News and Events

Best Ever Fun on Zoom

Since ‘Lockdown’, live storytelling has moved online. I must confess that it is not my favourite format to perform on or listen to stories on. As in my opinion, you cannot beat a live audience in front of you. However I do realise that for some people, it is a way of enabling them to access ‘live’ online storytelling, albeit via Zoom or Facebook etc. I have slowly migrated over to doing a few online events, a bit like trying to get a Cat to go out when its raining. I have had some good experiences and met some people that I would not otherwise have met. My favourite experience was just this week. I was invited by the Poet Gill Wes,t to tell some stories for people with learning disabilities who attend Project 49 in Southend. What a lot of fun it was. A very interactive audience with a great sense of fun. It was the closest that I have experienced to it feeling like a live audience that I was in the room with.

My most recent work: A short animated story.

I was recently asked to collaborate on a project about bereavement, with two organisations. ‘The Ideas Hub’, Chelmsford and ‘Dying Matters Essex’.   I was asked to provide a short audio recorded story, that then had animation added to it afterwards. We are all very pleased with what we achieved together.

If you would like to see and hear the story, then please click on the link below, which will take you to YouTube.

A short story, with animation. The White Butterfly

 

 

What is a Zoomeller ?

In these challenging times what does a Storyteller do ?

Well as a storyteller of Folk, Fairy tales and Myths, I have a compulsion to tell them. However I never expected to Zoom tell them, or Zoom hear them, a  “Zoomeller” of tales (my new word) if you will. As many turn to their phones, tablets, and computers to consume art, to learn, to fill the void. I have wrestled with the situation.  I personally need to see live faces in front of me. I need eye to eye, heart to heart connection in a live moment, to really bring the stories to ‘life’ otherwise they are merely stories. Now there is nothing wrong with mere stories, I mean, I need them all the time. I love them. However the world of spoken aloud, Folk, Fairy tales and Myths, is very different. Not just for the teller, but also for the listener. Truly live storytelling when people gather together in a real space, not a virtual space is a very different experience. We know this from the feedback of listeners and from us storytellers also being, story listeners ourselves.

Back to being a ‘zoomeller’ of tales, I was and am struggling with it all. Until I recently heard and read articles about Zooming (other platforms are available) and how stories over the Internet, are very different to live or even radio stories, (this includes conversations and meetings etc). Audio and language specialists point out that listening online is fatiguing, as a result of more metallic sounding voices, the subtle time lapses of a millisecond, the zoom gaze, looking this way or that. The family life going in in the background, unless the ‘mute’ button is pressed on. Although this still leaves the visual life. All this and more, contribute to the brain having to work much harder, to hear, to listen, to absorb, meaning that it is harder to relax. All this is going on as more people are consuming more Online content.

So what  do I do?

Well I remember being told once that;  ‘Less is more’. This simple message has helped me a lot. To avoid digital burn out, or from getting Zoomalitus. So I am simply listening to less and telling less. The quality of what I am listening too, has increased and I now have more time to let the stories that I tell, speak to me of their deeper secrets. So that when live performing comes back, my stories will be invigorated.

Simply put, ‘less is more’.

Letting the Light In

While most of us are locked down, sitting out the ongoing Pandemic, I am sure that for moments, or even longer,  we have felt or looked, a little like the nature spirit above.  We may be currently feeling a little wretched, beaten up, like we are falling apart. Or perhaps a little unkempt, left in a field, for the wind to blow through us, pulling at our hair, ripping our clothes to shreds. Our minds and emotions, pulled and pushed, to the four corners of the earth and back.  But look closer at her, look through the holes, the gaps, you will see nature is still blooming, crops are still growing, birds are still singing. . Her apparent frail structure, is stronger than it looks, for it withstands the blowing wind  along which, the scent of spring comes, she pauses……. breaths it in……. all,.. will be well. Rainy days soak her feet, quickly forgotten, as brightly painted birds land on her twiggy arms, singing sweet songs, into her ear. Songs of the land, songs of  journeys, across mountains, across the sea, deserts and lush green valleys. She listens to their song……. and is soothed.  Her gown is bejewelled with bright insects, it shines, it sparkles, it hums with life. Look even closer at those tattered holes in her clothes, for this is where the sunlight shines through. This mythic nature guardian, is looking over us, showing us, speaking her truth. That nature both gives and takes, that we need the holes, to let the light in.

World Storytelling Cafe: A Virtual Experience

I am feeling most humbled to have been asked by the organisers of the World Storytelling Cafe, to join them, along with some other marvelous Oral Storytellers from around the world. In what I believe is the first (or one of the first) virtual gathering of Storytellers from far and wide, from Columbia to Ireland, from Scotland to the USA to Chelmsford, telling tales to sooth and relax you in these troubled times. I have already contributed a 45 minute set of 3 tales, for you to listen to whenever you wish. Suitable for all the family from 3 to 103 years of age.

Just visit the site www.worldstorytellingcafe.com or Facebook page; World Storytelling Cafe Community for further details.

Storytelling Workshops During Childrens Mental Health Awareness Week

During National Storytelling Week, I spent a full week in a school in Suffolk, working with  four seperate classes. I was commissioned by the wonderful Children’s Mental Health Charity, ‘FineNotFine’, to put together a week of Storytelling Workshops, incorporating the theme of ‘Find Your Brave’. As it was also National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.  Here is some of the genuine feedback from several of the children. Its heartening to know that we truly made a meaningful connection with these children.

“I enjoyed Shane he was really funny. My favourite part was the Viking story”.

“My favourite part was wen Thor wor that dress”

“Everybody has brave in them and you find it at certain parts in your life. Some people don’t”.

“I enjoyed that wen Shane told the story and we could picture it in your head”.

“My favourite part was the donkey pewking out Pinoncita”

“I enjoyed the exciting art lessons we’ve had. My favourite part was where Shane came in and told us lots of stories”.

“I enjoyed Shane telling us the stories and the art. My favourite part was when we drawed the pictures and when we heard the stories”.

“I enjoyed doing the different activities. My favourite part was being there and listening to Shane who is very funny”.

 

National Storytelling Week

As National Storytelling Week, begins on 1st February, I have some news to share.

I was asked by The Society for Storytelling to contribute an audio recording of me telling one of my favourite stories for children, ‘Clay Pot Boy’. It has been put into a ‘free’ National School’s Pack. (300 packs have already been requested, contact SfS.org.uk)   The packs are to aid teachers in introducing Oral Storytelling to children, along with explaining many of its proven benefits to children. I was also asked to contribute to a section in the pack on, “inclusive storytelling”. With tips and comments from my various experience’s of working with children in multiple settings over 24 years. With additional comments, from my experience of working with people with Learning Disabilities.

During National Storytelling Week itself, I will be Storytelling in a Suffolk school, all week. Working with a Children’s Mental Health Charity, ‘FineNotFine’. We will be using and working with a particular story all week, primarily to look at helping children access their inner strengths. To help build upon their inner resilience and confidence. Along with having a lot of fun.

In addition, later on in February on the 15th and 16th, during half term, I will be Storytelling at RHS Wisley again, telling stories all about the weather.

I will also be appearing for a second time on the 18th at ‘The Widgeon  Theatre Boat’ a unique theatre on a canal boat, moored in London. I will be telling stories in the daytime for children and than performing stories in the evening, for adults only.

I will also be at the Thenga Café, in London again  for the third time, on 27th, telling a story along with others,  to help raise money for the Children’s Refugee Charity DonateforRefugee’s.

I will also be in London again on Sunday 1st March, telling a story in Hackney, at an open event, where the stories are all about Witches and Witchcraft. (address 186 Hackney Road, E2 7QL).

Perhaps I might see you at one of these events.

Storytelling News; Quiet but Busy

A quiet month for performing/telling stories, however I have had time to work on some new stories.

I have also been working away in the background on several projects for this year.

I have been working with The Society for Storytelling, on their free schools pack. I contributed a recorded Oral Story for the pack, along with some advice for storytelling to children.  It is all part of a  free pack with lots of advice, recordings of other storytellers telling their favourite stories and various other resources for schools. It is designed to enhance the understanding of how Oral Storytelling develops children’s, verbal storytelling skills and narrative structures.  As well as their creative, imaginative brains and written storytelling skills. It  is designed to run alongside National Storytelling Week in February.

I was able to ‘birth’ a new story at the lovely Woodbridge Storytelling club, Tapas ‘n’ Tales, this month, as their special guest, I am grateful for it being well received.

I have also been working on two children’s Mental Health projects  and on an adult Mental Health storytelling  initiative. More on this later in the year.

I have also had a meeting related to the ‘Dying Matters’ initiative and how Oral Storytelling can help with the often taboo area of death and dying.

In addition I have been responding to several storytelling enquiries, some new and some from people and organisations that  I have previously worked with. So lots under wraps that I am working on. I will share things as they develop.

Perhaps I might see some of you at the Oral storytelling night that I run in Chelmsford , called ‘Tall Tales & Short Stories’. It is on this Sunday 26th January. You will find further details elsewhere on my website or on my Facebook page. Thank you Shane

 

The legacy of Storytelling

I had a truly wonderful experience this weekend. Sometimes we do not get to see how our work and our art affects others. However this weekend I had a chance to see just that, in one child. I was invited back to do some storytelling at the Alternative Education setting where I had previously been working. Part of my work there had been oral storytelling to the children. One child in particular, a 7 year old boy, really loved listening to the stories. Yesterday after I had finished telling a story to about 25 people from babies to Grandparents, the child in question, asked if he could tell a story, to the same audience. My immediate answer was “Yes, please do”. As I am always so keen for children to tell oral stories.

What followed was amazing. He confidently sat on the story tellers chair and told a story at length. He introduced the story and then began. He used so many of the storytellers skills in what he told. The storyline made complete sense, he added drama, character, he used contrasting images, he used movement in his body and in the narrative of place, voice change, humour, description, the rule of three’s in the narrative and he used the available space well. It was an amazing example of the passing on to someone so young, of much that I have learnt myself from actually telling the stories and also so much of what I have learnt from other story tellers.

Looking at this young boy, the ancient tradition of oral storytelling is in safe hands with him.

December News

December Storytelling News.

December: Winter has officially started.

7th; Winter Tales with Soup at Anke’s Café, Southend.
8th; Daytime Storytelling at Tipi Woods, Winter Gathering.
8th; Evening, I will be making a brief appearance as Abanazar, looking for his lamp, in a Mummers play in Leigh-on-Sea, St Peters Church.
12th; Fishermans Chapel, telling Winter Tales, as part of the Spinning Yarns Collective, Leigh-on-Sea.
14th; Essex Wildlife Trust, I will be performing Winter Tales, with Hannah Brailsford, amongst the trees of Belfairs Wood. Tickets may still be available, go to the Essex Wildlife Trust, Belfairs Wood site to see.
15th; Chelmsford’s very own Storytelling Club, ‘Tall Tales & Short Stories’, presents Winter Tales. It is also our clubs 3rd year anniversary. We have a very special guest storyteller in Baden Prince. Baden will be telling Caribbean Folk Tales and other stories. In addition there will also be tales from our regular tellers.
16th-21st; FREE Pop up storytelling, at ‘The Bearded Gypseys Trade Fayre’. During the week I will popping up in their shop in Bond Street, Chelmsford, to tell some winter folk and fairy tales.

There will be some news in the new year, of some very exciting projects for 2020.

Have a lovely peaceful Winter break, one and all.