Change of dates…

Unfortunately the dates fo the next storytelling evening turned out to be rather ambitious. What with family, work, and trying to get my application on to a college course approved, I haven’t managed to get enough material together and rehearsed to get a complete evening together to a level I’m happy with.

I love storytelling, but I can’t do it half prepared: I’d mess things up and waste your time.

So, I need to push the date for the evening onwards. As I’m theoretically starting a full-time course in April I’m not going to say when until I have a better idea how much time and energy I’ll have to spare.

I’ll be back, et,c…

“Another Great British Evening” in April

A bit of negotiating and I’ve now got the dates and the venue for the next storytelling evening, on Saturday the 9th, then Friday the 15th, and Saturday the 16th of April. The reason I’ve pushed it so far way beyond is that I’ll have finished my contract by then so I’ll have some buffer time for preparing if I find myself dealing with something unexpected and time consuming.

Based on no scientific evidence whatsoever, I’ve decided that the ‘Great British Evening’ went better than ‘The Complete History of the Industrial Revolution” so the current plan iss for more stories from or about the UK, some of which may actually have happened, but probably not exactly in the way I’ll be telling them.

With brilliant originality I’m calling this “Another Great British evening”, but tha may change if I get some fantastic idea for an alternaive.

As before the evening will be at Pfarrstrasse 2, 73760 Ostfildern. The evening usually takes about an hour and a half with a fifteen minute break in the middle.

There will probably be cake.

Here we go again. Again…

So, the last few months have been very busy, what with starting a new, enjoyable, but challenging job working with children and young people, and applying for training so I can keep doing for the long term. If all goes to plan I should start a course from April.

This explains why I’ve been a bit quiet since the last storytelling evening.

All of the above is of course, good news, but it is also frustrating not being able to tell stories, so I’m organising another evening in a couple of months. I’ll put up a more exact time later in the week.

I’m thinking of “Another Great British Evening”, with a new set of stories from different parts of the UK. Any other ideas?

 

Networking…

We’re into the summer storytelling dip: I’ll be doing more Storytelling later in the year but for a couple of weeks I’m concentrating on other projects and applying for further training in different areas, because generous as you are on Storytelling evenings, we can’t live off them, alas.

One of the other projects was ‘networking’: I’ve been told several times I should ‘network’ more with artists, meaning I should go to places where artists lurk and introduce myself. This is a great plan if you can do it. I’m far too introverted to try that sort of thing.

Fortunately, an alternative came up last week, when the town needed a stage for a festival, and the team building it were down one artist due to illness. Getting to know people while building stuff is far easier than talking to complete strangers, so I joined the team on day 2 and by the evening we’d done this:

img_5744Which involved cutting and fitting hundreds of upright pieces of wood:

IMG_5746

This is what happens when you ask artists to make a stage: they get all excited about making a piece of sculpture, beautiful on its own without a performance happening on it. Of course in practice that meant every upright was a different size.

A Proper Carpenter would have spent a day working out the radius of all the curves and then the exact sizes of the uprights to fit. We bent the curvy bits until they looked about right and measured from there to the ground and cut the wood to suit.

It turns out that this works just as well, although we did have to stamp on some plywood sheets until they stayed put, and screw them down quickly before they sprung up again.

IMG_5763This was a joint project between artists from here and from our partner town in the Ukraine, so everything had to be discussed and in both languages. As an added advantage I can now ask for several tools in Ukrainian, and you never know whan that may come in handy.

We made it in time for the big festival on Sunday, and as an added bonus it hasn’t fallen down yet…

Blech_orchestraThree days later, I’ve made several new friends, been given a book on art and education which will come in very handy, and in lieu of payment, I’m getting my very own woodcarving course from one of the artists I on the project.

That’s the ort of networking I can work with…

Personal Story: Music Lessons

This is the first in an occasional series of personal stories that I’ll be posting here. There are a lot of storytellers out there who specialise in personal stories, and it is an area I’m interested in looking at. I’ll put up stories here that I think may interest people. Let me know what you think…

I avoided music lessons as much as I could, I suspect the music teachers were quite glad about this. There were a few unavoidable times in School, of course, including one memorable term where they tried to make us think Mozart was cool by making us sing drippy songs to the sound of a harpsichord. I disliked Mozart for years… Continue reading

Storytelling and Barbecues…

On Saturday I had the last of the two storytelling evenings for “The (nearly) complete history of the Industrial Revolution”. Unfortunately (for me) it was a Saturday evening with perfect barbecue weather and most people very sensibly decided to go and enjoy themselves outside. Still, I had a few people there and they were most appreciative. I will hopefully be able to post videos and photos soon, as kind people made both for me.

So… thoughts on how this went. It was a deliberate change from the last evening which was based on folk tales: it took a lot longer to prepare, and while I enjoyed doing this, I think that both me and the audiences enjoyed the folk tales more.

In the other hand, I felt that the mix of prepared drawings and drawing as I spoke drawing as I spoke worked pretty well. Most feedback on that was positive as well…

One thing I noticed is that there wasn’t such a clear beginning and end to the stories as there would have been to a set of folk tales and this meant the audiences didn’t have a handle to tell where they were. I also felt that I couldn’t relax like I did with the fictional folk stories. I think that may have been because they were ‘true’ stories, so I felt I couldn’t exaggerate or increase things for comic effect. Certainly in the second evening I was more relaxed when I was speaking about the final inventor, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose stories were probably the funniest and most outrageous.

At the moment, I think I think I’ll keep the set in my story folder but probably concentrate more on folk tales and traditional stories in future. What do you think? Please let me know either in the comments or the contact form, in English or in German…

I also think that next summer the storytelling should be with a barbecue…

Scribble pictures

Ind.Rev.jpgPresentation number one for ‘The (nearly) complete history of the Industrial Revolution‘ came and went on Saturday. As you can see, there were pictures. I have enough to think about without a computer deciding not to work, so I don’t trust technology more complex than a big piece of paper and a pen.

Besides, the fun of Storytelling is that it is live and small scale. The sketches get us past the potentially boring technical bits so we can have more time for the fun stuff.

One piece of feedback is that the sketches could be more cartoonish, so we can get away from the feeling of ‘lecture’, which I can understand. I set up a cartoony style with the dates (which I prepared beforehand) so I’ll think about that more for next time.

There will be another presentation this weekend, Saturday the 11th of July, same place and on a donation basis.

Low-tech multimedia

There will have to be a few changes to this presentation.

I said last week that my job is to get rid of all the boring bits in the Industrial Revolution, and stick to the stories of inventors and things blowing up. Thing is, when we are talking about inventions there sometimes have to be some technical details: for example, it is all very well me explaining that James Watt made steam engines useful, but if I don’t explain the reason why a Watt steam engine is different to the previous design, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The reason, of course is that Watt introduced the condensing chamber, a simple but revolutionary addition that…

You’re drifting off already, aren’t you?

So last week I decided we’re going to have a multimedia presentation, or to put it anther way, I’ll be drawing pictures live as I tell stories. This is partly because I have an aversion to high-tech solutions to just about anything, but also because this is a live storytelling evening, so I want to make the drawing live too. If I draw a steam engine, all it takes is a few extra lines to show the changes that altered history, and we can move along before people start snoring…

No pictures of alligators though, sorry about that…

History, without the boring bits…

Books_BWThe research is done, I’ve read my books, the useful bits anyway: I won’t have time to explain the importance of the new banking system or the repeal of the Calico Act, which I suspect will be a relief to all. That’s kind of the point anyway: this is a storytelling evening, not a lecture: people come to hear about jealousy, love, exploding steam engines and people being fed to alligators, not long rambling essays and dates.

Unfortunately people who write history books don’t seem to think this way, so I’ve been digging through acres of paper. I think the current ratio is about fifteen laws and two chapters on banking for one Alligator…

The final straight…

Apologies to George Stephenson and Isambard Kingdom Brunel...

The new poster: click for a big version…

I’m coming to the final stages of preparation for the Industrial Revolution project: today I sent the posters and postcards to be printed, which is a great relief, and I’ve found time to adapt them for a couple of header images: if you click on the picture above one will appear sooner or later.

More importantly I’ve decided which stories will be included, and which stories won’t, -which is a far harder decision because I want to include all of them- what order to put them in, and now I’m working on making them understandable, exciting, and interesting.

There are some great stories which I’m really looking forward to telling: some are funny, some quite incredible (The incident with the engineer and the alligator comes to mind) and some are simply tragic reminders that the changes were not welcomed by everyone.

All these stories now have to be packaged together, told, retold, and timed so I don’t go over the promised 90 minutes, and presented on the 4th and 11th of July. See you there. If you were at the last presentations and you enjoyed it so much you want to come again, don’t forget to bring a dozen of your friends…