Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Melton Botanic Gardens Celebrates 15 years

I have friends who tell me that they would rather chew off and eat their own leg than tell stories in environments where the setting and elements are out of their control. I might have thought the same once but over the years, I've embraced the challenge of taking work out side of performance venues and into all kinds of spaces. I think I've become hooked on the challenge.
The Melton Botanic Gardens is the perfect fit for our stories; it is a place that celebrates and provides habitat for birds, including the migratory Latham's snipe as well as many spectacular plants and remnant bush.

The big flowering West Australian eucalyptus flower this time of year and if you missed me and Sarah, you can still see these wondrous plants blooming.

Once the environment is embraced, the relationship between listeners is re-calibrated as well. We love the informality and fun we have with the people who come to hear our stories. 

 Thank you Melton for inviting us to part of your celebrations. We had a top time!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tamar Valley Writers Festival, Tasmania

While I could hardly be called a prolific writer of children's books, I'm passionate and particularly interested in non-fiction picture books for upper primary.

My two titles were published a while ago and are still in print and I meet readers, and convert new ones, wherever I go.

I was fortunate to be invited to the Tamar Valley Writers Festival as part of the schools program. Thanks to Paul Collins and the Creative Net Speakers' Agency for tossing my hat into the ring.

I couldn't speak highly enough of this festival, located this year at the Swiss themed resort, the Grindlewald, a few kilometres out of Launceston.

And while speaking highly and offering thanks, a HUGE ALMIGHTY thank you to Petrarch's Bookshop. Their pop-up shop at the festival was quite extraordinary and I, for one, found my wallet opening all by itself on numerous occasions.

My sessions were for middle and upper primary and years 8 - 12. I believe that what I have to share with students (my 'point of difference') is that I come to writing stories through telling stories. My mantra is: speak, write, read aloud.

It was great fun acting out stories with the young ones and introducing the older ones to stories told.

The Tamar Valley Writers Festival is every two years. Its a ripper!!!

CHENNAI: Under the Aalamaram International Storytelling Festival

What a treat to be invited along to tell stories as part of Under the Aalamaram International Storytelling Festival.

With Storyteller Craig Jenkins from the UK and Giorgiana Elena from Romania
The festival takes place across ten days, primarily in schools in Tamil Nadu, born of a dream of the organisers of Kathai Kallatta, a storytelling organisation founded to '...address the benefits of storytelling for children, adults, teachers and parents'.

From the 23rd August to the 2nd September it was nothing but stories, stories and more stories. The team was a mix of local tellers and guests from the US, UK, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore and Romania.

During this time, it was estimated that between us, we told stories to over 8,000 children from kindergarten to middle high school. In addition, we ran workshops for the older students and teachers, and there were two public storytelling showcases.

There were times when we told stories to small groups and on other days, we were greeted by a sea of students.
It took a pano shot capture the numbers of students in this session

So many highlights during the ten days, but if I boil it down, the essence for me was the hospitality of the festival, the schools and the local storytellers and the good will of the international storytellers who supported each other as we adapted to the heat and the traffic.

The public concerts were a huge success and it was wonderful to see storytellers from different countries telling stories from their place with such warmth, polish and passion
Craig Jenkins (UK), Jeeva Raghunath (Chennai), Diane Ferlatte (US), Giorgiana Elena (Romania), Ariyo Zidni (Indonesia), Jackie Kerin (Australia), Lindy Mitchell-Nilsson (Australia), Roger Jenkins (Singapore).
This is how storytellers are greeted in schools in Tamil Nadu.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Williamstown Literary Festival 2018

'In the cosy comfort of the library, while outside an icy wind blew, Jackie Kerin and Sarah Depasquale kept the audience spellbound with their carefully crafted blend of evocative music, storytelling and kamishibai. With impeccable timing, just as Dr Ward's amazing plant filled case was aboard a ship, Australia bound, a particularly wild and heavy squall of rain lashed the library windows and had us all feeling like we were in fact afloat on a turbulent sea! A lovely session!'

AKA (Australian Kamishibai Association)

Kamishibai (paper theater) is a Japanese way of telling stories. Once popular in the 1930s - 1940s, it was swept aside with the introduction of television.

But kamishibai is back and new stories are being published and there are festivals and gatherings of kamishibai storytellers popping up around the world.

Bernard Caleo
Bernard Caleo (comic book maker, actor, storyteller) and myself formed a Facebook Group a few years ago, and calling it the AKA (Australian Kamishiba Association), we hoped to gather kamishibai enthusiasts from around Australia to share ideas and grow skills.

Daniela with her kamishibai stage and stories
We now have members from Victoria, NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia as well as a few overseas guests.

Tetsuta Watanabe's 1940s Japanese tale of 'Mr Carrot' was a favourite
With growing confidence, we decided to go public and so pitched ourselves to the Williamstown Literary Festival 2018 offering: a display, two shows, introductory session and workshop for children.
Anna telling a story to an enchanted crowd
The plan was hatched when Anna Manuel said, 'Let's do it!' Anna shouldered a huge amount of the planning and arrangements with the festival organisers: curated the showcase of Kamishibai Stories for Kids and facilitated the workshop. Together with her partner Anthony, she also designed our flyers and banner.

L-R: Alex Kharnam, Daniela B├╝cheler-Scott, Jackie Kerin, Matt McArthur,Tetsuta Watanabe, Anna Manuel

And I would like to express gratitude, on behalf of the team, to those members of Storytelling Victoria who so kindly gave up their time and helped us with the display table. We were overwhelmed by your willingness to down tools and lend us hand.

And please, if you would like to be part of the fun, don't hesitate to join our group and follow our Page.

Find us on our AKA PAGE HERE

Sunday, May 20, 2018

World Migratory Bird Day 2018

Sarah an I have become passionate supporters of any attempt to share information about the migratory shore birds that visit the wetlands in Hobsons Bay where we both live.

Several years ago we developed a show called Tales from the Flyway where we imagine what it would be like to visit some of the countries on the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

This is the fourth year we have celebrated World Migratory Bird Day, a global event with our local community and rangers.

And this year was especially wonderful as the Spotswood Primary School Choir joined voices with the Newport Community Choir in singing about the life of the Godwits, words by Barry Hill, music composed by Todd Mcneal.

Such a buzz to use the skills that we share to make a difference.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories is a show developed by me and my wonderful collaborator, Sarah Depasquale.

Wandering through our local botanic gardens (the Williamstown Botanic Gardens), we asked ourselves the question, 'Where did all these exotic plants originally come from and how did they get to Australia?'

We discovered that part of the answer was 'the Wardian case', or as we like to say: 'The Amazing Case of Dr Ward!'

The problem of carrying botanical specimens on board ships had been ongoing for centuries. Then in 1833, Dr Ward (a plant enthusiast) experimented with sending some plants in a sealed glass and wooden case from London to Sydney and back again. The experiment was success and the transportation of plants was revolutionized (and the terrarium craze was also sparked).

Sarah and I have found our delight in this story to be infectious. Our local Men's Shed (Hobsons Bay Men's Shed) made us a couple of scaled down replica cases.
Neil Davidson, Mick Linsay, Philip Frisina Colin Dyall from Hobsons Bay Men's Shed

Jackie helping Loraine oil the cases at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens

Loraine Callow (who works part time at the Williamstown Botanic Gardens managed by the Hobsons Bay City Council) created a glorious set of illustrations for us to use in a Kamishibai (Japansese wooden storytelling box).

Dr Luke Keogh (environmental historian and curator with a special interest in the global movement of plants in the 19th and 20th century) offered advice and ecouragment and Nan McNab (editor and author) kept a close eye on us as we developed the story.

Sarah and I were invited to the 2018 Port Fairy Folk Festival and as part of a packed program of storytelling, we finally launched our new show into the universe.

I made a little video of Sarah and me at the Port Fairy Folk Festival. It will give you a glimpse into the kind of fun we have when out and about with stories.

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories
(suitable for an inter-generational audience and ideal for festivals)

When you bite into a mango and the juice dribbles down your chin, spread a picnic rug under a shady elm, or pop a fuschia bud, do you ever ask the question: how did these plants come to be in Australia? It is quite possible that the answer lies in a simple invention made of glass and wood. 

In London, in the early 1800s, a doctor and enthusiastic amateur naturalist, accidentally discovered a plant growing inside a glass container.  Aware of the difficulties of transporting live botanical specimens aboard ships, Dr Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward concluded that plants needed to be sealed in transparent cases, protected from salt spray, rats and clumsy sailors. The Wardian case (as it became known) revolutionized the transportation of plants and were in use up until 1962.

Sarah and I begin with the ripping tale of how Dr Ward developed his idea, and we follow with two stories dedicated to specific trees (the golden elm and the weeping rosebud cherry) and a story dedicated to the gardeners.

The Amazing Case of Dr Ward and Other Stories is inspired by the Williamstown Botanic Gardens, designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman and opened in 1860.

45 - 50 minutes

For audiences under 80 people:
  • 4 metre x 3 metre space – preferably raised if the seating is flat
  • no amplification required
For audiences over 80 people we need:
  • 4 metre x 3 metre space – preferably raised if the seating is flat
  • Digital projector for images
  • Radio mike for Jackie and a mike on a stand for Sarah
Cost available on enquiry
Visit Jackie's website HERE
0412 210 098
Sarah Depasquale and Jackie Kerin
Sarah Depasquale is a classically trained violinist, librarian, birdwatcher an gardener.
Jackie Kerin is a classically trained actress, storyteller in the oral tradition and author of several award-winning children's picture books, bird watcher and gardener.  Learn more here.


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