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June and July Storytelling News, London, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Shropshire, East Anglia

This is a biggie! For your convenience I’ll simply list them by date first so you can scroll quickly, and then more info will follow below. Ready? (big breath…)

Monday 30th May, 1pm and 6pm
Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham
“Alexander Pope – A Search For Perfection”

Fri 3rd June 7pm
Matlock Storytelling Cafe, Matlock, Derbyshire
“Mongan’s Frenzy” Booking details here

Sunday 5th June 7pm
Brompton Cemetery Chapel, London
“Tales Of Transformation” Booking details here

Sunday 12th June 7pm and 9pm
The Viktor Wynd Museum Of Curiosities, Mare Street, Hackney, London,
“Mermaid Tails” Booking details here

Saturday 18th June, 10am to 3pm on the hour and half hour
Radnor House School, Pope’s Villa, Cross Deep, Twickenham
“Alexander Pope – A Search For Perfection” 20min version. Booking details here

Weds 22 June 10am to 12pm
Explore York Library, York, Yorkshire
“Discover Your Natural Voice – a Workshop” Booking details here

Weds 22 June, 7pm
Explore York Library, York, Yorkshire,
“Mongan’s Frenzy” Booking details here

Friday 24 June, 7pm
Shaggy Dog Storytelling Club, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
“Patched & Mended” Booking details here

Saturday 25th 10am to 3pm on the hour and half hour
Radnor House School, Pope’s Villa, Cross Deep, Twickenham
“Alexander Pope – A Search For Perfection” 20min version. Booking details here

Monday 4th July 7pm
Twickenham Library, Twickenham
“Alexander Pope – A Search For Perfection” (full version) Booking details here

Sunday 10th July 7pm and 9pm
The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Hackney, London
“Cock Tales” Booking details here

Saturday 16th July
as part of Festival At The Edge Friday 15th to Sunday 17th July
Stokes Barn, nr Much Wenlock, Shropshire
“Discover Your Natural Voice – a Workshop” Festival details here

Friday 22 to Sunday 24 July
East Anglian Storytelling Festival
MCing, family telling, voice workshop, adult telling. Festival details here

Weds 27 July 11am to 12pm
William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow, London
“Indian Fairy Tales” Free event, details here

Saturday 30 July 2.15pm – 3.15pm
The Globe Theatre, Southwark, London
as part of the Telling Tales Festival – “Shakespearean StoryMaking”
a participatory workshop for visually-impaired children. Festival details here

Ok, that’s the bare details so now you know what you’re interested in, what’s within reach. More details now if you want them…

Alexander Pope – A Search For Perfection” is my new Arts Council England supported work. Commissioned by Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust this 45 minutes (-ish!) celebrates the life and achievement of the 18th century English poet Alexander Pope. An outcast from society on two grounds, one his Catholicism and the other his terrible disability, Pope nonetheless became the most celebrated writer of his age. This story is his story. There is a version for adults which I’m doing twice at Orleans House on Monday 30 May and once for Twickenham Library on 4th July. For Twickenham Festival at Radnor House School there will be a shorter, more family-friendly version running for 20mins on the hour and on the half hour from 10am – 3pm. It’s been called “wonderful memorable storytelling” and if you can’t catch it this year, it’ll be running again in 2017.

“Morgan’s Frenzy”, which I’m telling in Matlock on Fri 3rd June and in York on 22 June is a magical, mysterious, sometimes slapstick and deeply moving wonder tale, the story of a man raised and educated by the Gods but who completes his wisdom in this world, taught him in the only way this world can teach wisdom, through pain. It’s a stunning story and one of my favourites. 2 x 45 minutes (-ish!)

In Brompton Cemetery Chapel for “A Curious Invitation” I will be telling Tales Of Transformation. “A Curious Invitation” have curated a day of talks about Magus’ such as Dr John Dee, Aleister Crowley and others. I shall be telling stories on the theme of magical transformation in a beautiful chapel in a beautiful cemetery. I plan this visit to be temporary.

On 12th June it’s time again for my popular “Stories On A Sunday” sessions at the Museum Of Curiosities in Mare Street, Hackney which is also a wonderful cocktail bar. There is a real mermaid in the Museum, or at least a real fake, and I’m telling British Mermaid Tales. The 7pm session has one seat left! There are a more available for the 9pm sitting but they’ll be gone in the flick of a mermaid’s tail. And the stories? Haunting, tragic, romantic, scary.

Sunday 18th June is the start of a wonderful and insane week! Kicking off in Radnor House School, on the site of what used to be Alexander Pope’s villa, I will be performing rolling tellings of a shortened version of the Alexander Pope – A Search For Perfection story. Then, it’s on the train to Yorkshire where, for York Explore Library on Wednesday 21st June  I shall be running a three hour voice workshop suitable to voice users of no and of considerable experience. You will hear yourself as you have never heard yourself before! It’s dynamic, effective and great fun!

That same day, at 7pm, I shall perform “Mongan’s Frenzy”. Then on Thursday I’m going to mosey slowly from the Vale of York to Calderdale in West Yorkshire, where I lived for 7 years and where I began my trade as a Storyteller. On Friday 24th June I’m performing for the club where, in 1999, I had my first experience of traditional storytelling. Where I fell in love, in other words. Shaggy Dog Storytellers, the club who started me off, have been flooded out of their usual home and all I know about this gig is it’s in a mill next to the railway station. If you’re local I’m sure you’ll know where that is! If not, folk are very helpful! I’m telling “Patched & Mended”, a story which starts in the Mabinogion and the tale of how the land of Dyfed is cursed and then how the victims respond to this disaster. I open a second thread in which I explore how anyone of us can respond to disaster, this thread rooted in, but not limited to, my own experience of sight-loss and chronic illness. Doesn’t sound like a feel good story, perhaps, but trust me, it really is! That’s 45 mins and they’ve asked me to do another 45 mins of whatever I fancy. So I shall.

Then I have to grab my bag and shift to the train station to get the last train to Halifax and a night bus, not to Cairo, but to London, because I start the rolling Popating again at 10am on Saturday 25th, 20mins, on the hour and half hour till 3pm. Who does my diary management, I hear you cry? Me, and of course it was a sight-related oversight (or underweight?). I can do it though. Just don’t contact me on Sunday – I shall be under the table in a cardboard box filled with straw.

On Monday 4th of July at 7pm, suitably rested, it’s the full grown up version of “Alexander Pope” in Twickenham Library.

On Friday 10th it’s “Stories On A Sunday” again at the Viktor Wynd Museum. The 7pm session sold out today but the 9pm session has only just been opened. The theme for July is “Cock Tales”. Well, it’s a cocktail bar upstairs, so why not have a narrative celebration of cockerels and some everyday stories of poulterer folk? The audience might force me to abandon my plan and instead tell some mucky stories about willies and penises (penii?), but that will be entirely against my will I assure you, honest mate straight up no kidding.

Surviving that dangerous ordeal, I shall be on my way to the 25th Anniversary of the Festival At The Edge, one of Britain’s most wonderful storytelling events. A greenfield site on Wenlock Edge in Shropshire hosts three days of the best storytelling in the country (if not the world). On the Saturday I’m running “Discover Your Natural Voice“. Other than that I shall just be chatting, lounging, listening and grinning from ear to ear. Come and join me?

Then, the following weekend, on 22-24th July I get to celebrate the FIRST EVER birthday of the brand new East Anglian Storytelling Festival. I’m chuffed to bits to be invited to be part of this! On Saturday I’m running a one hour voice intensive workshop in the morning and MCing in the evening. On Sunday, I have the honour of closing the festival with an adults only performance, “50 Shades of Grimm” in which I take Grimm’s stories and allow the women to be a bit less passive? So “Rapunzel” becomes a story of awakening, “12 Dancing Princesses” becomes the negotiation of a daring and exploratory relationship between an experienced older man and a princess who wants to feel more intensely, and I close, I kid you not, with the story of a threesome. Feeling daring?

On Weds 27th July at 11am at the wonderful William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London, I shall be running an interactive storytelling session for children on the theme of Indian Fairy Tales. William Morris loved Indian fairy tales. This session is free! Just bring a child, preferably your own. This is the first of five weekly sessions and it runs every Wednesday up to and including Weds 24 Aug. No, I’m not going on holiday this year.

The last gig of July is on the 30th at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Southwark. As you know, for years now I’ve been analysing story structures and using them to channel the creativity of children and adults in various contexts. For the Globe and for young visually-impaired people, I shall be running a session wherein v.i. children, as a group, co-devise a new story based on the same narrative structure which Shakespeare uses in his great tragedies, Hamlet, Lear, MacBeth. It’s only an hour long so I shall have to tell back to them what they devise. With double the time, they would be doing the telling! This probably won’t be relevant to you, but if you know somebody who would have an interest in this session, please encourage them to contact The Globe for more details and in order to book.

Sheesh!!! I’m very happy to have such a busy summer! And I know and accept that there’s no rest for the wicked. What I do think is a little unfair is that I can’t remember any of the wickednesses I must surely have committed to get so little rest. I should like to remember – I bet it was fun…

See you somewhere, I hope?!

best wishes,

Giles ;{~


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StoryMaking and Voice Workshops, Chandigarh

So, I taught the last of five workshops, one each in Kolkata, Delhi, and two in Chandigarh. These are the kind of workshops I would love to do more often with teachers in UK. Essentially, it puts staff in touch with their memory, their imagination and with the natural storyteller in all of them. It is so rewarding to teach.

Children always sound excited when I tell them there are going to be no written notes. Grown-ups sound alarmed. I have to explain that, when you say “I’m writing it down so I can remember,” in fact, you are writing it down so you can forget. And of course staff were much more able to remember things than they thought and, at the end, were all confident they could replicate the workshop I taught them with their pupils, and were excited to do so.

So I taught them a Memory Technique from Ancient Rome (Cicero, if you’re interested in provenance) and then used that to get them to memorise a content-free story structure. Then, in just over five minutes (I kid you not) staff, in groups, were able to create new stories, each different from those of other groups, which are guaranteed to hang together and maintain listener attention because they are based on the same Story Structure as Star Wars (the first ever and the most recent) and, for that matter, the Ramayana. Having  used this structure to devise the story we were then able to spend the rest of the workshop exploring the language used to develop the story and the voice used to deliver the story. All staff said they were amazed by the  way that a little limitation of choice actually liberates, rather than kills, imagination, and agreed that nothing kills inventiveness more than absolute freedom of choice. A strange paradox, but something I’ve found again and again.

Best of all, I got to hear them tell stories! It never ceases to give me joy. I can remember, when I was 11ish, some friends and I were all discussing telepathy, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could put thoughts inside someone else’s head? I now know we can – use language to name things, describe things, narrate things, and a whole world can burst into life inside somebody else’s head.  You put it there.

Here are some pictures of the lovely people I worked with in Chandigarh…..

hard at work on their stories
and happy with their achievements after

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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 ;{~