Thursday, March 25, 2010

Storytelling Guild(Vic) welcomes UK visitor Naomi Wilds

The Storytelling Guild (Vic) gathered for the AGM at Wonthaggi - on the beautiful Bass Straight coast. (March 20). After dispensing with the formalities we had the pleasure of showing our UK visitor some of the sights. Gael Cresp (chairperson of the Guild, published writer and storyteller) and her husband Stephen have created a beautiful home over looking the water.

Naomi Wilds describes herself as a self employed Producer of Storytelling and Music Performances. She grew up in Bath but is now living in the East Midlands in Derby, north of Birmingham; she is passionate about putting storytelling into the spotlight.

Her company ADVERSE CAMBER works with storytellers and musicians to tour distinctive stories that inspire adult audiences.

ADVERSE CAMBER became a company in 2009. With the support of Arts Council and Lottery Grants they employ a director/artistic adviser, designer, vocal coach and choreographer to work on the shows. The shows, drawn from Celtic mythology, are one story told across a night. Future plans include storytellers with connections to African and Asian story traditions.

Naomi has nurtured a passion for stories from childhood when she was spellbound by the folk tale Cap-o'-Rushes, the classic English fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales. Naomi is currently in Australia, having been funded as an independent Producer to connect with storytelling elsewhere in the world and to expand her understanding of the art form.

Following on from this weekend she is flying off to Central Australia for a camping trip with some of the traditional owners of Uluru and then off to New Zealand to meet with storytellers in the land of the long white cloud.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I first bumped into the amazing Mal Webb at the Spirit of Woodford Awards. Mal describes himself on his website as a 'vocal adventurer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist'. He is also a wonderful storyteller.

I attended one of Mal's workshops at the Port Fairy Festival and learned more about sound and the human potential for vocal expression in one hour than I learned in three years of drama school. (Well I guess that was a long time ago.)

For anyone working with their voice: singer, actor, storyteller - no matter what your training and background - a session with Mal will open your mind to places beyond imagining. Do I sound like an advertisement? Well ... like Big Kev used to say, 'I'm excited!' I am a fan and yes I plan to learn how to yodel, will never again pop plosives into the mic - and I think I'll learn Tuvan throat singing (just to annoy the neighbours).


The Pat Glover Memorial Storytelling Award attracted a good audience and some fine storytellers this year at Port Fairy. As a three time recipient of the award, I stepped down from the mic and Jim Haynes gave me a spot on the judging panel instead. One of the delights of this event is catching up with folk I rarely see otherwise. Rob England was in fine form. Rob can be heard sometimes on Bush Telegraph on Radio National - he's passionate and articulate about the plight of the Coorong but at PF he was in full comic yarn mode. David Demant from the Storytelling Guild (Vic) took a turn at the mic as did Stephen Whiteside from the Australian Rhyming Verse Orators (ARVOS) and Toolangi CJ Dennis Festival and Sheilagh Kentish, from the Ballarat Storytellers was in the audience. This year's winner, Terry Rooney (Sydney) had us in stitches with his tale, Passage to Coffs Harbour. It's hard to get a good pic of people in a line up but here you can see the judging panel and Terry - L to R : Paddy Ryan from Duri (south of Tamworth), Peter Mace (Empire Bay), Me, Terry and the indefatigable Jim Haynes (host). Thanks to Port Fairy Festival, the late Pat Glover and his family for continuing this wonderful gathering of yarn spinners. Jim has a great website. There are some terrific resources here for storytellers. His latest book The Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids is a great one.


Claire Saxby, friend and writing buddy, invited me to launch her latest book, There was and Old Sailor. The event was supported by The Sun Bookshop in Yarraville. The crowd swelled and filled the foyer of The Sun Cinema - the two places being separated by folding glass doors. Pirate and musician, Danny Walsh put the text to music leaving no doubt in our minds that Claire's story has life as a terrific song as well as a wonderful picture story book.

There was and Old Sailor has arrived in the bookshops with a splash of terrific reviews. Cassandra Allen's illustrations are remarkable and I thoroughly recommend folk (especially my storytelling mates) check it out. With strong rhymes, repetition and the cumulative structure - this text is perfect for the trad teller.


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