What an awesome three days of storytelling outdoors at Norwich Puppet Theatre, based in a disused church. Storytelling specifically with men who attend mens groups in Norwich. The storytelling performances called ‘Fire in The East’, were run specifically to get men outdoors more, post covid and to inprove their emotional, physical and mental health and welfare through the medium of storytelling outdoors. Working collaboratively with fellow storyteller and friend Jonathan Lambert. We told a range of folk and fairie stories, from the funny, to the serious, to the bizarre and much inbetween. The stories led to some wonderful conversations and sharings of experience and emotions, during the intervals and afterwards.
Super proud to be a part of this important project. Part of rebuilding community after Covid.
The Green Children
I grew up, some 11 miles up the road from the Suffolk village of Woolpit, where the story of the Green Children comes from. I know the people, the land and the villages well, in this part of Suffolk. The tale fascinates me and I have been telling it for years. There are so many interpretations, so many layers to it. Everytime I revisit and research the story, I see more. It is part folk tale, part fairy/wonder tale and part legend. I am currently revisiting and researching the story again, as I have done many times. I will be telling it again next week, at Get A Word in Edgeways, an online storytelling space.
Get A Word in Edgeways will also be having an actual Storytelling and Spoken Word Festival, on the 8th-10th July in Shropshire. See you there.
My biggest gig yet is coming up this weekend, Storytelling to 500 Scouts.
2022 has been an exciting, interesting and busy year for me on the storytelling front so far. Some of the highlights include, going to Morocco, to tell stories and work with Moroccan students, the two week trip was amazing; Norfolk Libraries invited me to work on an innovative project, Nature Storytelling Outdoors, for mens health & mental welfare. Then there was an Essex Heritage project, celebrating Marconi, where I was involved with a school from the village, where the first ever official radio broadcast was made, by Marconi. Then there was a Ukranian fund rasing gig in Suffolk, where a group of us raised over £1,200, I was so proud to be a part of this. I have also been involved in some other very enjoyable storytelling work inbetween, including telling a story at a fashion show. And now I am about to do my largest storytelling gig ever. It is for the Essex Scouting Association. I will be at the Essex County Cricket ground this coming Saturday the 23rd April, where I will be telling a story to approximately 500 Scouts.
There is a lot more in the pipeline, this year, which I will share at a future date. ‘Doing the job I love’.
A dream come true for me I was invited to attend the First Marrakesh International Storytelling Festival, in Morocco. This was the first week of Morocco opening up its borders post Covid, so a very special time, in so many ways.
I was lucky enough to be able to work with Moroccon students, learning English with four x 2 hour sessions. The format of folk and fairy tales was used, with an open question forum for the students including enabling them to dive deeper into story and into English language and cultural differences. Depending on the groups ability, some of the stories that I told were translated, into Arabic, small sections at a time. While for other more proficiant groups the stories I told were only spoken in English. Such a deep, rich, rewarding encounter for me, stretching and enhancing my ability in running storytelling workshops. I have also made a friend in one of the tutors, Chayan.
A little Blog about my work and why this book is importent.
I am at a stage in my life where my love of Storytelling, Nature, Bushcraft and Ecotherapy are converging and are becoming a way of being. I am finding out that it is one of the benefits of getting older with an open mind. I do have a lot of real life experience and some qualifications. I have worked as a therapist for many years and have often used stories and the outdoors therapuetically. I have come to realise through client feedback, that I am able to offer something quite unique. It would seem that I have been ‘ahead of the curve’ for some time, I have been aware for a long time of ‘Nature Deprivation’ and its effects on our Mental Health, (child or adult) for many years. I want to share this learning as much as possible. Since the onset of Covid and the consequences for our mental health from Lockdown, people and organisations are increasingly aware of the importance of Vitamin N (Nature). However a word of caution, although a walk in nature is a very good thing to do, it is much deeper than that. The loss of nature in most of us, is profound and we are simply unaware of it. I spend up to six weeks each summer working and living in the woods. When in the woods for extended periods, in the daytime I am mainly with children teaching Bushcraft skills etc. In the evenings I camp alone every night in the woods. In addition I have also solo camped in various forms many times, I have worked in woodlands part-time and full-time in various ways, over my whole life time. I have planted trees, tended to trees and cut down trees. I am a casual forager, most of my food in the woods,is bought in a shop. All of this has given me quite a unique insight, into trees and woodlands, into myself, my mental welfare and into the interconnectedness of everything. The trees and creatures of the wood have an aweful lot to teach us about interconnectedness and about our lack of ‘wild’ connection with ourselves. The animals are not bothered that I have Dyslexia and problems with written Grammer is one such example.
I am finding with increased frequency that I am being commissioned to run workshops and to facilitate discussions, in relation to the combination of, Storytelling, time in Nature and the connection’s with positive Mental Health. The book shown in this article, ‘Storytelling For Nature Connection’, is a timely purchase for me, to further consolidate my experiences, learnings and findings, relating to the stories that we tell ourselves, the stories that we tell about ourselves, and about the world ‘out there’ and how this affects our Mental Health and our general health. And how this in turn, affects our relationships with the Environment and with the Communities in which we live. As the saying goes ‘everythings connected’. My extended times out in nature have taught me and continue to teach me, about the interconnectedness between everything and everyone. I am still on a learning curve, there are many things that I could do better. As we say in the Bushcraft community, ‘everyday is a learning day’.
Some of the ways that I have worked with these themes over many years include, speaking to Environmentalists about the power of story, not just the stories that we tell ourselves, but also the power of how a simple story can convey ones message. I have put together and delivered several outdoor programmes for children, teenages and adults, all based around Story, Nature, Bushcraft and coming together. I work part-time, with a community of ‘Home Educators’, in a woodland and have done for two years. I have facilitated a workshop/discussion (online) for storytellers in Wales, relating to how to connect story, people and nature. I have perfomed and told stories outdoors, for enviromentaly minded families at festivals. I am currently working for Norfolk Libraries with some colleagues, with an Applied Storytelling Nature based project, for a wide range of groups.
I currently help to run woodland camps for children and adults in Surrey part-time. In the future I am looking to run some bespoke days out in a local wood in Essex, combining, Story, Nature, Bushcraft and Ecotherapy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope that you feel inspired to get outdoors more often. Shane
This coming weekend, I will be performing a set of Halloween stories for children and families at Marks Tey Hall, Essex, ( I wont be looking quite so spooky) in the late afternoon as dusk sets in. And then later in the evening I will be performing a set of stories for adults, in the dark, (where I will be looking as spooky as the photo) in a wood by the camp fire again. Then on Sunday, I will be telling Halloween stories in the afternoon in Chelmsford Town Centre, in a pop up art shop, (in collaboration with The Ideas Hub) where children can also create Halloween art and crafts work. Then on Sunday evening there will be the return (hoorah) of Chelmsford Storytelling Club, at The Two Brewers pub, I am so looking forward to the lovely audience coming back and the return of several of my storytelling colleagues, where we will be sharing more Halloween stories.
October has been a very busy period for me. I have already told a story for the Armstrong Storytelling Trust of Northern Ireland; also at Tipi Woods for families, around a camp fire at night; I have been on the World Storytelling Cafe, sharing a spooky tale; I then recorded a Halloween story for Chelmsford Community Radio. I have also shared ‘Autumn Tales’ with Chelmsford City Mencap group. Finally this week I ran three storytelling sessions for Big Hat Bushcamp in Surrey………My broom has had a lot of use, just as well that I have a story about how to get another one.
I am really looking forward to telling some Halloween Stories at Tipi Woods Learrning Community tomorrow evening, in a Wood and around a Fire. (Its a Private event).
There will be stories about Witches, a Buried Moon, a Young Girl unafraid of a skeleton in a spooky house, a Hairy Toe and probably more Witches.
More Halloween news of open events next week.
What a great day at Tipi Woods today, where I work once a week, as a resident storyteller and facilitator, at a Learning Community for children who do not go to mainstream school.. Some of the children, aged between 6-10 years of age, shared in the morning circle, that they have ‘bad dreams’, so I offered time for them to hear the Wonder Tale called, ‘The Maker of Dreams’, a traditional tale from the Isle of Skye, in Scotland. The children were very engrossed in the images of the story and the narrative of why, we have ‘good’ and ‘bad’ dreams. After the story, I facilitated a child led chat about their dreams, both good and bad dreams. Following on from this, one of the children mentioned that she had recently had a dream about “pies”, which she found odd and funny. This led to me telling an old Sufffolk Folk Tale, ‘Tom, Tit, Tot’, (a variation of Rumplestiltskin), in which at the begining 5 pies were eaten. I hadn’t told the story for at least 3 years, it was a joy to tell and the children were really taken in by the magic of the story. They also learnt some new words, by asking me about words such as, ‘Skein’, ‘Flax’ and ‘Linen’. Later in the afternoon the same group of children asked for some more stories. So I told them a Native American story about why we have the wind, as it was somewhat windy in the woods today. I had them listening to the rustle of the leaves. I finished with a fun wisdom tale about, being sure of your ‘facts’ before spreading a rumour. It was a very interactive story, with the children giving me lots of animals to include in the story. We had so much fun. Even the quietest ones, in the larger group, were more vocal than normal. What a special day 🙂
What does a life giving Fire, a mother Polar Bear and her cubs, the very first radio broadcast, science and a primary school, have in common?
They are all part of a Chelmsford and Writtle, Heritage Storytelling Project that I am working on for early 2022. I love this kind of creative challenge, turning a rather dry scientific subject, into something accessible and enjoyable, for primary aged school children, delivered via an ancient folk tale. The ideas are flowing and a plan is coming together.