Can we make a show around British folk tales/music that doesn’t involve glitter

Convener(s):Jonathan Bidgood

Participants: Sarah, Danny Scheinman, Timothy, Mark Trezona, Dodger Phillips, Martyn Duffy, Morvern Macbeth, Sarah Corbet, Ian Pugh, Ed Jaspers, Kate Lane, Mary O’Connor, Jonathan Bidgood

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

Reading List; Books suggested by members of the group

  • Joseph Cambell; everything, but especially ‘The hero with a thousand faces’
  • Christopher Booker; The Seven Basic Plots
  • Women Who run with the wolves L.Ester
  • The Feminism of Fairytales, Maria von Fanz
  • Rumi
  • Songlines, Bruce Chatwin

Why do we tell stories? To teach/explain/pass experience/convey culture

                                                To celebrate

                                                To find out what happens next…

                                                To tell the story of who we are


Jonathan Explained why he had called the session, explaining his interest in the deep archetypal nature of folk tales and desire to create a piece around the stories of the british Isles. He observed that, while we do have access to folk tales, and there is a great deal of literature around the symbology and import of those tales, the majority come from places where the local culture still has a widespread link to the stories.


Dodger Told us about Leo Sofer, a Modern storyteller, and mentioned some of his travels to see master story tellers around the world in action. He outlined various principles that he had learnt from them, including the importance of never writing the stories down… lest you devalue your art,or make yourself redundant, perhaps. Or maybe because the importance of the stories is that they remain (a)live.


He recounted meeting an Irish storyteller, Jack with the Flat Cap, who refused to tell him anything about his craft, but did allow him to come and see him tell the same story twice, allowing him to step out of the process of being told, and observe the craft.


He also mentioned that many traditional stories are nested to three degrees, with a story inside a story inside a story.


The group talked about storytelling as a physical art, a mesmeric, hypnotic process, in which the audience entrains to the physical and emotional signals of the storyteller.


Dodger suggested that Peter Pan and Wind in the Willows are both books written to be read aloud, with the Rhythm of the language designed to have a similar effect upon the audience.


Danny mentioned that he is a lecturer in storytelling, and has spent a great deal of time researching storytelling processes and examining how they can be applied to group performance.


There was talk about the sentimental narratives of Hollywood, which often steel the form but bowdlerise the content of classic narrative, especially the work of Disney. Jonathan observed that it was interesting that the group was meeting in Tatooine, given how much of starwars’ plotline was the product campbell’s work on mythic structure.


The book Eragon was mentioned as an example of the potency of these stories. Written by a teenager who essentially copied his narrative structure from the starwars movies.


There was brief discussion of Mitaclirans(?), as an example of the newer starwars films missing the point, trying to make magic into a blood disorder, and thus losing all their charm/glamour


Talk turned to the subject of music, how it could interact with stories and with the tradition. Danny described his experince of experimenting with music in story contexts, and observed that, while music creates atmosphere, melody sits in the same aural and emotional space as the storytellers voice, and thus tells story.


The Black Rider and Shockheaded peter were referenced, the latter especially for its ability to tap into the psyche of the child in a very primal fashion (and then she… DIED!)


There was discussion around the way stories get transferred and evolve within an oral tradition. Strong traditions still extant in the isle of man and Norfolk were mentioned.


The group finished by sharing emails and agreeing that it would be interesting to meet and explore some the ideas arising from the session through the medium of an open space workshop.


If you are interested, Email [email protected]