New Workshop: ‘Macbeth’

Macbeth front small text“Shakespeare reloaded: Macbeth” is a journey for students and others who are studying Shakespeare in English. The workshop starts with a look at why Shakespeare wrote ‘Macbeth’ (Hint: It pays to write what your sponsor wants to hear) why the witches were so very important to the audience and the king, and ask “Where did the rest of the play go?” After this we go through the play, focussing on the important scenes and discovering hidden meanings (and comedy) in the text.

If the school wishes to go further, this can lead to hands-on workshops with writing assignments and role play in English and German. The goal of the workshop is a safe, fun, non-embarrassing session to help students gain a deep understanding of the story in both languages.

The original design of the picture featured a  dagger shape in the ‘blood’ but this looked too nice and controlled so I changed it to the ‘splatter’. Not overdoing this effect was possibly the hardest part: there’s a lot of blood & violence in ‘Macbeth’, but not that much…

More news on ‘steam and pirates, the industrial revolution evening, next week…

Offline, Online…

Gremlins attacked the server this week and I’ve been unable to log on until today: my usual tactic with computers of ignoring the problem until it went away worked out in the end. This is fortunate as I didn’t have a plan ‘B’.

My inability to understand/repair/operate computers is one reason I tell stories live rather then with videos.

‘Steam and Pirates’, the industrial revolution evening, is taking shape, and because I don’t have enough ideas at the moment, I’m developing the next project: “Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ in 45 minutes”. Some German schools have a play by Shakespeare in their English courses, which is remarkable as British school students find it hard enough and it is (almost) our first language.

Several local people were kind enough to say they would talk to their teachers about inviting me if I prepared a workshop so I’ve been doing background research this week.

Amongst other things, I’ve found that in Shakespeare’s time Propaganda was as common as it is now, the play as we know it is missing several pages, and as usual, the true stories from the time of the play are almost as incredible as the play itself.

More details to follow, and possibly pictures…

Video: Janko’s Dog

The second video from ‘A Great British Evening’: the story of Janko’s dog. This is a story about the Roma people in the UK. I really wanted to include a story about the Roma because their culture tends to be ignored, and is almost invisible in a lot of places, and they still face a great deal of prejudice today, even though they are in theory protected by the law now.

The story is made up of themes from several original Roma stories. At fifteen minutes I thought it may be a bit long, but the action comes pretty quickly and audiences seem to like it.

Any thoughts welcome. Having watched both videos several times while I edited and posted them, I’ve decided I really need to leave the waistcoat open in future.


Voting results…

So, the results of the vote are in: thanks thanks to those who voted for taking the time to let me know what you think.

The vote came in as 70% for the Industrial Revolution stories, and 30% for more Folktales, so I know what I’ll be talking about next time. I will come back to Folktales later in the year…

Now the fun part starts: finding stories and knocking them into shape for an evening together. There will be new pictures too, and you’ll see them here first…


Monsters or Steam engines?

As I said last week, this is where I start asking for your opinion. I’ve started work on the next storytelling evening*, and I am wondering if I should make it like last time, a mix of stories and a bit of history, or maybe carry on where “A Great British Evening” finished, and tell stories from the industrial revolution in Britain. Those are mostly true stories, although you may find the folktales more believable.

I finally won the battle with the website and you can now simply click to vote for your preferred theme:

You don’t have to log in or anything, just click one of the points and press the big yellow ‘vote’ button. If you don’t mind either way, or you have another idea, let me know in the comments.

 I’ll publish the results next week along with a video, as long as the computer isn’t sulking…

*If you haven’t been taking notes it is in Pfarrtrasse 4, Ostfildern Kemnat, again, on Saturday the 4th & 11th of July, bring a friend…

Here we go again…

2015-04-19_027So a ‘Great British Evening’ went really well. Many thanks again to those who came, gave feedback, and and joined the email list. It is really encouraging to have you aboard.

Now I’m working on the next step: another two evenings in the same place -the Evangelische Jugendhaus in Pfarrtrasse 4, Ostfildern Kemnat. on Saturday the 4th and Saturday the 11th of July. Please book one of the dates, and for those who came before, please bring a(nother) friend this time.

I’ll start planning the evening in a week or so, and I’ll be asking for opinions about the content: there may be voting. so please come over then, and let me know what you think.

Video: Thor’s Wedding

A presentation of the Nordic Legend of “Thors’ Wedding” where Thor pretends to be the goddess Freya to get his hammer back from Thrym the giant. The story was part of “A Great British Evening”, an evening of stories and history from Great Britain from the time of the Romans to the beginning of the modern era.

This is the ‘short’ version of the story: if circumstances are different it can easily be twice as long. I also didn’t use many of the names in the original legend, such as Thor’s hammer, Miölnir, or Asgard, the home of the gods, because I thought it would be confusing for my German-speaking listeners to be confronted with lots of unfamiliar. non-English words. I also refer to Thrym as the ‘King’ of the giants. I’m not sure where I got that from as he is simply the ‘Stupidest’ in the original story.  I’ll get it right next time.

I’m grateful to Dave Thirlwall, who I first saw performing “Thor’s Wedding”  for permission to adapt and use his version of the story, and for showing me the potential of storytelling. Dave is the site manager for the Yorkshire Museum of Farming and Danelaw Living History outside York, UK.

First Step

2015-04-19_029 So, people turned up to “A Great British Evening”, didn’t run away during the interval, and made positive comments. Some of the students even came twice. We also had a healthy amount in the tips jar, which is encouraging as people tend to be honest with their wallet and pay what they think their evening was worth.

The evenings went well too. We had a great time together and people seemed to appreciate the mix of stories and history, the humour, and appeal at the end that we be open to “immigrants” because it is the waves of immigration over the centuries that made our countries what they are.

Several people suggested I work on a ‘sequel’, possibly based around the time of the industrial revolution in Britain, I like the idea, but I think I’ll work on improving “Great British Evening” first: I’ve got lots of time for at least one more story in the first half.

I’ve also got a couple of videos from the performance and when I’ve fought YouTube into submission, I’ll start putting them up here: within the week you should see these appearing on the site and get a much better idea of what a storytelling evening looks and sounds like.

Assuming I can persuade the computer to work, at any rate…

‘A Great British Evening’ April the 18th and 25th

GBE_Postcard_front_mergedI’ll be performing my storytelling presentation ‘A Great British Evening‘ in the Evangelische Jugendhaus in Pfarrstrasse 2, 73760 Ostfildern-Kemnat on Saturday the 18th (NOT the 19th as in the Stadtrundshau…) and 25th of April, starting at 1930.

The evening is a journey from south to north of Britain, and from early history to the beginning of the modern age. We’ll start with the beginning of London, and how it nearly didn’t last much longer, then move on to 1066, when the Normans came along and stole the more accesible parts of the country from some people who had stolen it off some other people a few centuries earlier. We find out why we have Viking names for the days of the week, what really happened to King Arthur, sort of, and why you really, really need to read the small print sometimes. After this, we have a story from the Roma people, avoid meeting Scotlands Loch Ness Monster, find out what qualifications you need to be the king or queen of Britain and end with the question, “so who are the British people anyway?”

The venue is easy to get to using public transport: the “Kemnat Altes Rathaus” stop is a few steps away, and you can find it on the VVS/public transport online journey planner for Stuttgart, and if you are really lucky, there may even be cake…