This is a reviews page to let you know what you have missed.

  Reviews:

 

 

Peter Chand, May 2009, Click here

Tony & Deirdre Joyce, February 2009 Click here

Roi Gal-Or, January 2009 Click here

Drollys Kernewek, December 2008 Click here

Joseph Kingsley-Nyinah, November 2008 Click here

Richie Crossman, October 2008  Click here

Xanthe Gresham, September 2008 Click here

Arabian Nights, June 2008 Click here

Kate Corkery, May 2008 Click here

Joanne Blake, April 2008  Click here

Fiona Collins, March 2008  Click here

Sef Townsend, February 2008  Click here

Tribute to Duncan Williamson, January 2008  click here

Italian Stories, December 2007  Click here

Ramayana, November 2007  Click here

Inno Sorsy, October 2007  Click here

Rachel Rose Reid, September 2007  Click here

 

May 2009: Mangoes on the Beach: Peter Chand

Mangoes on the Beach starts in 1937 in a small village in the Punjab. The British are still ruling the sub continent, and a ten year old boy dreams of a better life than the one he has. Storyteller Peter Chand has taken the story of his parent's journey to Britain in the 1950's and woven it with four traditional Indian tales. The result is a totally unique piece of work that explores themes such as the caste system, separation, misunderstandings, and the infinite ties that bind a family. Exploring events that are rarely spoken about outside of the community, Mangoes on the Beach is at times harrowing, optimistic, funny, but always told with warmth and great energy.

February 2009: Tony & Deirdre Joyce - Tales from Houses Made of Hair

Thank you to Tony and Deidre for their evening of Arabic stories ‘Houses Made of Hair’. Tony and Deidre have been stalwart members for many years, but this is the first time they’ve given us a whole evening of their stories. They are also experienced and intrepid travellers and the evening was inspired not only by a recent trip to
Egypt, but also out of Tony’s experience of visiting his mother’s relations in the region as a child.

My own particular favourites were Nani the Ghoul and The Bedouin’s gazelle. I would love to have heard more of Tony’s personal experience and memories. JP

 January 2009: Roi Gal-Or - The Doors of Perception

I find it difficult to put into words what it was that made this performance so special.

I don't want to talk about skilful storytelling. Though Roi's storytelling is certainly wonderfully skilful, what is of more note is the service to which he puts his skill.

Roi began with a personal anecdote which illustrated the way in which he has worked in Israel. He told how a simple story told at the right moment in the right spirit can diffuse and transform a difficult situation.

The stories he told - the familiar ones as well as the unfamiliar - all had me on the edge of my seat wondering where he was going to take them, but always trusting that what he was going to say would be interesting, enlarging, enlightening.

He finished with a jokey Hodja story delicately deepening tone at its ending.

We live in a world where so many are using stories to manipulate and create the negative emotions of insecurity, fear and anger to the point where they spill over into violence. Roi is going into difficult situations telling stories and listening to the stories of others with courage and humanity and humility in an effort to resolve conflict.

Throughout this inspirational evening, and in his final funny story he was telling those of us who were at the Hope that night not to give up hope.

I was inspired and I wish him and his team who are working in Israel in May the very best of luck.

June Peters

For more information on Roi's work see www.schoolofstorytelling.com.     Back to menu

December 2008: Drollys Kernewek - Cornish Stories, directed by Claire Bowden-Dan

For the latest of our group performances we turned to the country to the southwest, Cornwall. Cornwall is often seen as a land of legend and there is a long tradition of storytelling - drolls in the local dialect. For this performance we took a selection, including two stories associated with Christmas, as well as the three main mermaid stories.

November 2008: Joseph Kingsley-Nyinah - Morality, Merriment and Mayhem

If I was Goldilocks sampling storytelling, I would say that some stories are made longer than they should be, and others are made heavier than they should be, but Joseph Kingsley-Nyinah's are just right. His mouth opened and the stories flew out, well paced, engaging and pithy, but with a moral depth that they wore lightly. As story followed story, selected from the many he has heard in 25 years as a storyteller, Joseph gave us a truly entertaining evening and a warm glow to go home with. Great stuff!  Back to menu

October 2008: Richie Crossman: The Right Side of Death

 The evening began with a collection of stories from the floor, which provided a pleasant range of storytelling styles, each of which edged the audience further into the sinister feel of the evening. This paved the way for Richie himself to perform in the second half.

The story both started and ended with the dramatic use of candles which had the audience enthralled right from the beginning. With the masterful use of a range of distinct and  appropriate voices, Richie drew his audience deep into the story of Jack and Godfather Death.

Soon more stories began to unfold from the first, including the tale of the death of Captain Van der Goot and the story of the little girl who died of cold selling matches. Throughout this tale, the audience was captivated by the dramatic use of matches; Richie struck one after another, suddenly extinguishing them at the height of each vision he invoked, and with them, the hopes of the little girl surviving the night. However despite the first two deaths of the evening, Jack's obstinate nature continued, leading with a feeling of inexorability, to his own death. Even at this final point in the narrative, the drama was maintained as 'Godfather Death' (Richie) simply lifted Jack's own candle of life and blew it out.

The whole performance left one with a lot to think about. The moral of the story seemed to be the idea that it is not about when you die but how you live. However when you compare this with the ease with which Jack's own life was blown out, and the negligible effect on the ambient light in the room; you found yourself humbled. What is one life; for while all of the other candles kept on burning, it could have been as though Jack's candle had never been there at all? All in all a very thought provoking performance both sides of the interval, and although all of the audience remained on the right side of death throughout, by no means all of the characters did. Back to menu 

   September 2008: Xanthe Gresham - Isis Is-You-Sis

From the moment Xanthe appears, in tight fitting, red shiny dress, carrying two battered suitcases, betrayal is in the air. Who is she leaving, or running away with? Whose life will be destroyed, and whose made?

Of course the cases are actually there to carry her array of props: saucepan, old newspaper, cat litter … not the usual storyteller fare. But then Xanthe isn't your usual storyteller. With her pyrotechnics, revealing costumes and Blue Peter crafts, she is definitely at the performance end of the storytelling scale. But while stagey devices can act as a barrier between audience and performer, with Xanthe somehow they seem to make her more open, more vulnerable.

This was an interweaving of two life-death-life stories - the 5000 year old love story of Isis and Osiris, and a modern love story. Both loves die, killed by betrayal, are dismembered and thrown away. But the pieces are rediscovered and carefully reassembled. New life, but different life, is born. And by the end of the evening, I think we all felt a bit torn apart by the emotional rollercoaster from laughter to horror to awe, but masterfully reassembled by Xanthe, with a new understanding of the power of story. What will she do with Hecate?!  Back to Menu

June 2008: Tales from the Arabian Nights:

A group performance by Storytelling in Hope, directed by June Peters

 The Arabian nights is a classic collection of stories from Arabia and Persia. They recreate a fabulous and fanciful world of sorcerers, sages and Jinnis, but also of ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. And above all it's a story about the telling of stories.   Come and learn how telling tales can save your life!

June comments "Since our first performance of 1001 nights 15 years ago, I have been enchanted by the story of Sheharazad telling tales to save her life. I return again and again to her huge repertoire of stories.  Many of the stories have a depth and a quality that makes them stand alone, some need to be heard in the context of the frame story in order to get a sense of the full range and subtlety of meaning. All are wonderfully flexible and malleable so we can constantly create new tellings and new meanings with these old stories. But whatever tales find ourselves telling in any new performance of 1001 nights, its essential message is of the capacity of the human heart to be touched and changed by the stories of others."

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 Kate Corkery telling stories of the Cailleach, May 2008

 Within the intimate atmosphere of The Old Bakehouse and in the beguiling company of Kate Corkery we made the acquaintance of the Cailleach, a multifaceted, female elemental power; ancient as time, synonymous with the very landscape of Ireland, and the conduit for poetical insight. When old, manifest as the Hag, yet a force for renewal and regeneration, a source of beauty and inspiration.

Kate skilfully, and entertainingly, threaded a path towards an understanding of this elusive figure by sharing with us how she was first drawn to Her, and with stories, song and poems, revealing some of the myriad aspects in which the Cailleach pervades and invades landscape, history, and peoples' souls.

Kate and the Cailleach took us to places deep within ourselves. In the story of the Cailleach and Donnacha we faced an ambiguity as to the source or inspiration of the Cailleach's actions. Was she showing the rewards of the struggle against nature, or the folly of exploiting the land and those who work it?  Whereas the tale of Red Hanrahan explores the Cailleach as Goddess of inspiration. The hedge scholar, seeking to return to his love Mary Lavelle, reveals the danger of lacking the courage to express ourselves and embrace our creativity, thus thwarting our hopes of fulfilment. The poem Ebb Tide was a poignant evocation of old age, but the learning attained through pain and loss hints at the possibility of regeneration.

 We emerged from this evening with Kate, entertained, but also enriched by having been in the presence of tales of great wisdom. Back to menu

 Joanne Blake - A Well Trodden Path: stories of Northamptonshire, April 2008

 Our guest this month was  'Young Storyteller of the Year Runner up 2007' Joanne Blake. A brilliant evening of stories, which was made even better by the accompaniment of fine music played on fiddle and guitar by Guy Fletcher and Gregg Cave. Joanne hails from Northamptonshire and with the increasing interest in the significance of place in storytelling, she has been exploring the stories of her home; searching for the stories which belong to her. She started by paying tribute to her former teacher in retelling 'The story of the Seamstress and the Green Velvet Dress'. As Tony Aylwin always says "Pass it on!"

There was Rushton wherein lies a tunnel built over the gates of hell. A fiddler at the time was unable to resist a challenge to check out the tunnel in return for gold! He disappeared to the tune of Moll in the Wad  and it cost Lord Cullen dearly!

Another legendary part of Northamptonshire is Fawsley with its three lakes. Local names such as Capability Brown, B.B., John Merrick ('Elephant Man'), Lord Fawsley, the Knightly-Spencer Estate, Badby Woods, Lamport, Pytchley and Brixworth all helped to set the scene for the Story of the Foxhunt in the area. In spite of the charming names of a pack of ten hounds such as Diamond, Sybil, Rivulet etc they met their doom one by one. Fortunately Mr Fox won the day again!

Then there was Northampton itself, a Shoemaker's town with many old factories. Boots worn by soldiers in The Civil War and Second World War with quality stitching of 64 to the inch were made there. Joanne made us aware of the magical qualities of shoes with soles worn on the feet of people with souls! Did you know that an old shoe would traditionally be 'concealed' in the walls of a new house to protect the inhabitants from bad spirits? 

There was more footwear in the story of the three day Horse Fair on the Village Green at Boughton, accompanied by Guy and Gregg with a tune in the Cotswold tradition,  as we listened to the misdemeanours of George Catherall - aka Captain Slash - and his highwaymen friends. Unwilling to die at the gallows to the inner refrain of his Mother's constant harangue "George Catherall you'll die with your boots on" he quickly slipped his boots off and in 1826 swung barefoot on the gallows.

Musical accompaniment made Joanne's final story more poignant. The Granddaughter was on a mission to "find the House of Bones and listen to those stories" as instructed by her Grandmother. During an arduous life of learning new skills and earning pennies - sewing, carving wood, carving stone, raising a family and telling her stories, she never gave up the search for The House of Bones. But when she found herself back at the ruins of her childhood home,  she felt a deep sense of failure. However a glimpse of her reflection, now looking so much like her own Grandmother, brought an awareness that she herself was the house of bones, fleshed out by all that life had given her. 

The second half of the evening was a lively mix of stories from the floor - but I guess you should have been there… Back to Menu

  Companion Tales to the Mabinogion: Stories from Wales retold by Fiona Collins, March 2008

In a month rich with Celtic patron saints - St David of Wales, 1st March, St Piran of Cornwall, 5th March and St Patrick of Ireland, 17th March - Fiona hosts an evening of stories to celebrate our Celtic heritage.

Less well-known than The Four Branches of the Mabinogion, the Companion Tales are found alongside them in two renowned medieval manuscripts: The White Book of Rhydderch (c. 1350) and the Red Book of Hergest (1382- c. 1410).

The Dream of Macsen tells of the Roman Emperor who dreamed of a beautiful Welsh princess, found her in his waking life and built fine Roman roads, which still bear her name, as her wedding present.

The Three Plagues explains the design of the Welsh flag and enlightens the attentive listener about the whereabouts of the exact centre of Britain

The Birth of Taliesin is the tale of the origin of a great bard, and points out some of the unexpected benefits of fishing in Wales. 

Fiona  was a founder member of Storytelling in Hope and only managed to tear herself away to fulfill a long-held dream to go back to North Wales to live. She lives in the Dee Valley, in Owain Glyndwr country, and is learning Welsh. She tells stories in North Wales and the Marches, with occasional forays to London for special occasions, like this one. Back to Menu

Land of the Morning Calm: Stories of Korea from Sef Townsend, February 2008

For the last eight years Sef has specialised in storytelling with refugees, but an opportunity to do research in Korea enabled him to look closely at the phenomenal storytelling style of Pansori, unique to Korea. A scholarship at The National Centre for Korean Traditional Performing Arts in Seoul gave him the chance to concentrate , once again, on his great interest, the Voice in Storytelling.

South Korea may well be the most 'wired' country on earth but super-computer-literate Koreans are still likely to believe that spirits exist in every part of nature, and see nothing unusual in seeking guidance from stories. From his recent research Sef brings traditional stories, (as Koreans told him they should be) earthy stories of "fun-satire-and instruction"! Back to Menu

   Scottish Stories - A Tribute to Duncan Williamson, January 2008 

 A gathering of Storytellers assembled in the intimate atmosphere of the Old Bakehouse Theatre, Blackheath, to remember and celebrate Duncan Williamson, a Scottish Traveller and traditional storyteller and balladeer, who died in November 2007. 

Their mission was to honour the man who said: "you can never die if you tell a story", with an evening of anecdotes and reminiscences of Duncan, and a telling of his stories, and other stories "in the style of Duncan".  Their achievement was to evoke the spirit of this seventh son of a seventh son, by weaving his magic in word and rhyme. 

A skilful mix of song, story and anecdote was blended together.  Duncan was remembered as "at his best in the kitchen" although he could turn a large hall into an intimate parlour.  He was a treasured emblem who, when he visited, was passed around as a trophy, sharing a meal with one and staying with another.  He "conferred his blessing" on those he recognised as in the true tradition, even taxing them with the duty to retell a story of his. 

And what stories these proved to be.  Lazy Jack who bested the Devil through skills honed by his indolence; whilst a traveller woman who disobeyed the terms of His hospitality was turned to stone;  a battle between the Slaugh (spirits of drowned sailors) and Christian souls risen from the churchyard; a Seal hunter who attained redemption by being taken to the Seal Kingdom. And not far behind the Devil, spectres, and the ordinary folk, followed tales of the Sidhe, powerful elemental forces with no love of humankind; whether abducting a mother's bairn, or pursuing the serving boy who stole their magic cup.  Unlikely heroes vanquished giant worms through acts of daring-do; and a Priest with a holy horse came to an untimely, but wryly humorous, end. 

This rich mix was enhanced by song and fiddle tunes, and unaccompanied ballads in authentic Glaswegian and other dialects that were interwoven with the tales.  We left the Bakehouse knowing a treasured man had inspired these talented performers to give us an evening to treasure.

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 Italian Stories, December 2007

Tony Aylwin and June Peters directed a fine selection of tales from The Facetious Nights of Straparola (1550) and Il Pentamerone of Giambattista Basile (1636). These early collections of tales haven't suffered the same bowdlerisation and Victorian sentimentalisation as Grimms and later collectors. And so, although similar images occurred: Beauty and the Beast; the wish-granting fish etc, they usually came with an unexpected twist: the Pig Prince 'Beast' ate his way through two wives before marrying the right 'Beauty', while the magic fish was used not just for personal gain, but to make a mocking Princess pregnant in revenge.

There was definitely a darker and quirkier side to these tales: the wicked Andrijetto whose last will & testament left his colleagues' souls to the Devil, and irresistable temptations to his family that would ensure they would also follow him to hell; and the flea who got so fat that his flayed skin covered a wall. Add to that cross-dressing and satyrs, necromancy and shape shifting, jugs of tears and cockerels with hidden gems, and you have an idea of the vivid pictures and edgy stories which made this such an entertaining evening.

Many thanks to all our tellers: Chris Wise, Tony & Deirdre Joyce, Anne Burman, Claire Bowden-Dan, June Peters, Jac Paschoud, Alma Simpson and Rich Sylvester. Unfortunately we ran out of time, and Debbie Guneratne and Tony Alywin were sadly unable to add their salt to the mix. Back to Menu

Ramayana, November 2007: Storytelling in Hope and Lotus Arts

The Ramayana is the story associated with the Hindu festival of light - Diwali. I thought I knew this story well, as I have heard it told many times for children's school Diwali celebrations during my teaching days. But this was a very different version. I thoroughly enjoyed this very adult retelling ! It was really great to hear the familiar voices of club members accompanied by the lovely drumming and dancing of Jayashree Acharaya and Shiv Shankar Ray, all introduced by Anita Verma, from Lotus Arts. Thanks to Debbie and Pennie for organizing this great collaboration, and thanks to everyone for a lovely evening. I enjoyed the sweets and snacks as well. Back to Menu

 

 Inno Sorsy: King Cotton, October 2007

A story based on the parallel lives of slaves on the cotton plantations of Alabama and a young family in Lancashire who work in the cotton mills, lives which despite enormous differences still had strong parallels.

Originally conceived as a stage piece with brass band accompaniment, Inno had her work cut out to carry it as a solo piece, a challenge which she brought off with aplomb.

This was the third time I had seen Inno in a 10 day period (Camden Ceilidh and a workshop) and it was the one I enjoyed the most. Back to Menu

 Rachel Rose Reid - A Darkening Harvest, September 2007

We opened our season with a first visit from Rachel Rose Reid with a show which she based on the time of the year, starting with the story of Persephone - but this was after she has invited everyone to close their eyes, in a magical opening sequence perfectly suited to the intimate venue of the Bakehouse. I hope we will see her return in future years. Back to Menu