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…

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…

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…

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…

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.