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Archive for July, 2013

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For six weeks I have been running an after-school storytelling club for 6-7-year-olds (Key Stage 1) at Knavesmire Primary School here in York.  This has been a special privilege, as well as a learning experience for me.  A special privilege, because one of the downsides of life as a ‘journeywoman storyteller’ is that most contact with audiences is one-off – you tell them some tales, maybe they get involved, but then off they go.  Whereas, on this occasion, I got to know their names, what they found difficult and what came naturally, what parts of them were stretched or unfolded by their participation.

They engaged, I think, quite deeply with the story we worked with – I chose to work once more with ‘Lugalbanda’ for its epic scale and the centrality of a brave child in a wild world!  The children were able to choose the characters they identified closely with, and each made a puppet to represent that character – it was very interesting to see who gravitated towards the heroic soldiers, who towards the king, who towards the mysterious sky gods. 

Every child managed to find their ‘storyteller voice’ at least for some moments, and not a single one displayed the ‘short attention span’ children are reputed to possess. 

What have I learned?  Not to cram too much into a short space of time! Me + 20 enthusiastic children + learning a large meaty story + making 20 puppets + drama work + writing work = rushing!  I have been invited to re-run this club in September and I will extend the session from 45 minutes to an hour, seek a parent volunteer for each session, and think very carefully about the choice of story we work with.  A storyteller needs to be a source of calm and surety for her audience, not the person darting about the room retying broken strings. 

The final presentation to the children’s parents was both mighty and slightly chaotic, as it was always going to be.  So the journeywoman picks up her bags and goes off to her wagon to reflect for a while, before her next outing….

 

 

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