While visiting Canberra for the launch of Children's Book Week and the CBCA Awards, I was able to connect with the ACT Storytellers .
The ACT Storytellers Guild holds two Story Circles a month and all are welcome. With Canberra’s sprawling suburbs, the group meets on the north and south of the city. The first Wednesday of each month is on the South Side and the second Wednesday of each month, is on the North Side.
I attended the North Side Story Circle and can report that these tellers have told more stories than most of us have had hot dinners. They’re highly skilled and living in the National capital has given them opportunities which those of us living elsewhere have not enjoyed. Between them, they’ve crafted stories for the National Museum, War Memorial, Botanic Gardens and other national institutions. Some have worked alongside, historians shaping primary source material for telling inside exhibitions or in collaboration with horticulturalist and rangers and education officers.
The ACT is also home for Patsy Allan who has made telling stories to the very young her specialty. On the day of my visit, Patsy had just launched her DVD, The Wonder and Joy of Storytelling to Young Children. Pasty, makes, tells and writes stories. She is a well-loved storyteller with much to teach all of us who dare to tell to the very young – surely the most challenging but rewarding audience.
The North Side Story Circle was attended by nine tellers who made good use of the time to try out stories before going public. Mary French (our hostess) used the gathering to share a tale to commemorate 48 years of marriage to Eric with an immaculately crafted story about their wedding day. Vonny Kemister tested a story she is learning to tell at the Botanic Gardens, while the resident teller, Roslyn Hull is away. Vonny’s story comes from Olga Earnst’s Fairy Tales from The Land of the Wattle (1904). If you are interested in reading these early Australian Fairy stories, you can do so HERE. (This takes a while to download so be patient. Its worth it.)
Thank you to the Act Storytellers for good company, fine food and the warm fire.
Visit Patsy Allan and The Wonder and Joy of Storytelling to Young Children available: HERE
Visit the ACT Storytellers Guild: HERE
Storyteller Roslyn Hull was unable to make the Story Circle but the following day Ros took me on a tour of The Australian National Botanic Gardens and talked me through her role as the resident storyteller. We made this little video (rough as it is) to share how she approaches storytelling in this setting. Be amazed Ros's knowledge and enthusiasm is exemplary! Australian National Botanic Gardens: HERE