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The Storyteller of Bath (and Bristol)

So, the first week of March and I travelled down to Bath to stay with my friend Harry. Next day, Wednesday, I worked in a school in Bristol, running Poetry workshops for KS2 children. Wonderful fun. I used a structure-based approach similar to the work I do with StoryMaking, and the staff were amazed at how the right level of limitation liberated the children’s imagination. After my first class there was a break and, as she entered the staff room, my class’s teacher smiled broadly at a colleague.

“If only all learning could be like that!” she said.

And I sincerely believe that more of it can. The children created complex poems in which an everyday object tells their own story. Some poems were riddles and you had to guess what the object was, and some were metaphorically very rich. Everyone wrote something and now the staff will take these beginnings on further. Proper job satisfaction for me.

On Thursday, Harry and I did our best to destroy the best that Bath had to offer in the matter of ales and pies (very good at The Griffin). I saw a moving play at Bristol Old Vic called Pink Mist. Actually, it was very storytellery as all the characters narrated the story straight to the audience. There was no set and minimal props and actors created scenes with movement and posture. I’ve got so much to learn there. I happened to be seated amongst a clump of 6th Formers, A Level drama students. Kid next to me was all scorn at the end of first act, so above it all, telling everyone how he’d worked out the impending twist in Act 2. He had and he hadn’t. As Act 2 progressed, I noticed him stop fidgeting, start leaning forward listening intently. At the end he spun to his friends;

“Excellent!!!” he said.

He’d dropped into the story. So much better than being above it.

On Friday I worked in a different Bristol school and, at day’s end, boarded a train not to home, but to Manchester. Word Of Mouth Storytelling Club was celebrating its 21st Birthday. I cut my teeth there 17 years ago. I wasn’t going to miss their birthday for the world…

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Ancient Tools For Modern Speakers

I’m on a train right now, whizzing through the Buckinghamshire countryside as dusk falls. I’m floating. I’ve just taught, for modern business leaders, a class in Rhetoric, as defined by Greeks and Romans between 2-2½ thousand years ago. They found it hard so I pushed them. They struggled, so I pushed them harder. My colleagues who hired me to run this session came to listen to the results. What we heard was astonishing, inspiring, moving, so moving that both my colleagues had tears in their eyes.

So, I learnt these techniques from my colleague Leon Conrad, with whom I founded the Academy Of Oratory. Both storytellers, both rhetoricians, both voice teachers, we are passionate about bringing ancient wisdom to modern minds. The results today were more than worth every time we’ve heard people say “you do what?” It makes perfect sense to us. It made perfect sense to my clients today. It felt wonderful. G ;{~