Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Story Door Door: True Tales Told Live (Woodend)

pic: The wide streets of Woodend

At first I thought I was imagining it - but no, there is definitely an energy and enthusiasm for storytelling events in regional Victoria that wasn't there a few years ago.

My friend Kate Lawrence (from Macedon) has been offering workshops and open floor nights throughout 2015. Initially, not really comfortable telling personal tales, I attended a workshop some months back and have now, stepped up to the mic a couple of times.

Kate booked the lead-light Room in Holgates Hotel in Woodend for the first Friday of the month for three months as a trial. Not having good 'night eyes', I've enjoyed jumping on a train, hopping off at Woodend and sharing a meal with other folks following the stories from Kyneton, Daylesford, Castlemaine and Trentham. One quickly bonds around open mics and folks become new best friends in a blink!

 pic: Macedon Station (Love train stations!)

 Pic: Didn't get a pic of Holgates from the front as there were people enjoying themsleves, but this is a window in the Leadlight Room
I love getting on the train in the busy inner west of Melbourne and 45 minutes later, stepping out into the quiet, wide streets of Woodend. I love old train stations and those big pubs on the corners of wide streets and that's even before the stories begin. The big stories of life and death, the human tales of miscalculated consequence, the misreading of intention - funny, poignant and acerbic. I'm slowly becoming a fan of personal tales and highly recommend a trip to Woodend for meal, a wine and a story.

pic: The room slowly filling up. Later on in the evening, these chairs were filled.

Follow Kate's adventures and join in the fun: HERE 
And if you can't make it to an evening, or if you would like to hear the stories again, Kate is recording and posting to SoundCloud (with the permission of the storytellers) HERE. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Telling stories in the Story Peddlers tent

Children's author Sally Rippon and Coffee Peddler, Patrick Verdon, have combined their talents and created a story tent. Patrick has designed and stitched this magical space that loads into a small caravan mounted on a tricycle.

Pitched on the grass at a small suburban primary school, the grade 1s and 2s were in for an end of year treat. (To the envy of all the others!)

We comfortably squeezed 60 small people into the space. I can only imagine what was going on inside those heads. Glazed looks of wonder, the children loved the exquisite agony of the wait, there was much peeping and running away.

There is something of the carnival and circus about the tent. It was an absolute delight telling stories in the Peddlers tent. A highlight of my year, of that there is no doubt!

You can find The Story Peddlers HERE

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Mahabharata Project

The Mahabharata Project began when I googled 'king of the birds'. Up came Garuda. Well of course, that made me curious about the story of Garuda's birth. And that led me to The Mahabharata, and that led me to ask my friend Kala, who grew up in Malaysia with a Hindu background, for help.

One thing led to another and before long, we'd formed an informal study group on Facebook with a couple of friends from Storytelling Australia Victoria. Almost 12 months later, we have over 90 members who randomly post links and toss around ideas. Most of the participants are in Asia, or Asian born and know and love, aspects of Epic.

I try and look at a text that has come down to us from the oral tradition, at least every year. In recent times, along with storytelling friends, I've looked at The Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights and The Mabinogion but The Mahabharata is not a story that can be known in a single lifetime.

The small dedictaed group of us that live in Melbourne decided to explore some elements by retelling or responding in song, poetry, visual art and in my case I had a go at Kamishibai which involved months of drawing.

As so much of my work is in schools and so many children I meet love the protagonists and
themes of the Epic - this study project was way overdue. Within weeks of beginning the project I found I was able to connect with students via the story in a new an exciting way. I have had my pronunciation corrected, met boys named after kings and warriors from the Epic and a Dad who tells his children tales form The Mahabharata with an enthusiasm that is inspiring.

My friends and I shared some of our insights and ideas at the Newport Folk Festival and then most recently at a house concert. This latter of course involved food.

The story of the birth of Garuda is the first story I tell in Tales from the Flyway with a music  composed by my Flyway collaborator Sarah Depasquale.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kamishibai! In South Australia.

On a recent trip to Adelaide, top of my list was to visit the Asia Fest in Rymill Park. This is a 'food and cultural festival' celebrating some of Adelaide's best resaurants alongside stalls and all kinds of entertainment.

My purpose for going was (of course) to track down the storytelling, or to be specific, the Japanese Kamishibai. After a few quick emails from Munetaka and Gail Umehara, and with times and dates locked in the diary, the universe worked in my favour. I was able to catch some performances.

Mr Umehara's set up is well suited to out door events with large cards and sturdy rig.

Bilingual actor and storyteller, Jarrod Hoare, told the story and Mr Umehara played the flute. A bunch of kids in a school holiday program, crowded around creating a scene like in the old photos of Kamishibai performances. The ones I love so much on the internet.
It was very hot and the the stage, thankfully, enjoyed some shade. Other performance areas at the festival were not so fortunate. Although the team were busy, we did manage a group photo.

You can see some footage of Jarrod performing at the Festival HERE.
I'm hopelessly addicted to this kind of visual storytelling and catching up with Munetaka, Gail and Jarrod was a delight. How many more kamishibai storytellers are  scattered around Australia - I wonder ...

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Village Festival: Edinburgh Gardens 2015

The Village Festival is an annual event in Melbourne and this year was celebrating its 10th anniversary. I've been telling stories to children since the beginning - I think I may have missed two, but that's all.

The festival runs for four days, part old-school circus, art village, carnival and part edgy arts festival.

This year I moved away from telling to children as I wanted to share 'Tales from the Flyway'. I was curious to see how our little storytelling piece would work in the mayhem. Sarah and I had a great time and, as always happens, we were quizzed afterwards about the birds and the Flyway.

Thank you to Alex Kharnam for the gorgeous photos taken during the performance.

The Village Festival

Monday, October 19, 2015

‘Tales from the Flyway’: House Concerts

It been a long process with lots of  thinking, bird watching, writing, composing and making, but friend Sarah Depasquale and I finally launched our show at the Williamstown Literary Festival 2015. We dedicate the piece to the Friends Groups and Rangers who care for the urban wetlands and hope that we are contributing to the awareness of the connection between wildlife and habitat in the inner urban area.

We've been enjoying some House Concerts  and thank our friends Cath and Mariam for inviting us into their homes and gardens. We've even managed to raise some money for one of our local Friends Groups.

We've struck it  lucky with delicious afternoon spreads. Jean-Marie is a French chef and those cakes you can see were to die for. At the R.A.W. Garden we were treated to Shah and Sheko, Somalian tea and stories.

Jean-Marie has retired so I can't help you out with the French cakes but if you would like to enjoy an afternoon in the R.A.W Garden you can fiend Mariam and her friends HERE.

'Tales form the Flyway' will be traveling to the Port Fairy Folk Festival in March 2016

Saturday, September 5, 2015

100 Story Buildng and Ethiopian New Year September 2015

Well it just makes sense for 100 Story Building to host an activity when Ethiopian New Year is being celebrated right outside the front door.

100 Story Building is about providing opportunities for marginalised young people to develop literacy skills, confidence and a sense of belonging but its also a lot of fun mucking with stories written, drawn, acted, told ... whatever takes your fancy!

Living a short bike ride away from Footscray, where they are located, I'm able to volunteer at times and its good to know that my odd bag of
skills are useful.

A festival tragic, when asked to do a shift during the Ethiopian New Year Festival, of course I jumped.

Simon Conlon and I set up a table in the Mall with pencils and paper and the children were invited to draw comics and try and cover one of the windows. While I looked after the comic factory, Simon had all kinds of magical things happening inside including shadow puppets.

A slow start but in the end I had a table full of of
story makers. Every now and then I was able to zip away and snap some photos of the events on stage.

I love living west of the Yarra in the thick of a multicultural community.

Learn more about 100 Story Building HERE

You might like to join me  and become a volunteer?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Feeling blessed spending time with fine women storytelling friends.

Feeling blessed spending time with fine women storytelling friends with big hearts and embracing ideas.

The week began with a visit to Mariam Issa and her RAW project 'Resliant Aspiring Women'. In the company of Kate Lawrence we drove across town to see Mariam's garden and talk story and ideas about how the Storytelling Australia Victoria can support events during 2016.

Then on the weekend I trained off to Kyneton to visit Suzanne Sandow, who has been telling stories, painting children's faces, directing and reviewing theatre ... for years. She showed me some of the beautiful performance venues in Kyneton, including The Bluestone Theatre and introduced me to the movers and shakers behind the Lost Trades Fair. Together we pondered the ways storytelling might be included in such an event.
But my main destination for the weekend was Maryborough to visit Ronda Gault. Ronda has been involved with Storytelling Vic for decades - a teacher, librarian, French speaker, goat hearder and chicken wrangler.

Ronda decided it was time to initiate a Storytelling circle in her home town. So as part of the Words in Winter Festival she decided to run a beginners workshop where people could hear a story, learn a story and tell a story.

Wearing my presidential hat (Storytelling Australia Vic) I was keen to support this idea. I dream of Storytelling Circles dotted around Victoria where ordinary people can gather, where everyone can be heard - all ages, genders, cultures. What better way to strengthen compassionate community and build collective and personal resilience.

If you're interested in learning more about the Maryborough Storytelling Circle contact Storytelling Australia Victoria: storytellingvic@live.com.au

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

'The Mahabharata Adventure' Newport Folk festival 5 July 2015

'The Mahabharata', one of the world's great stories, will be honored in one of Newport's humblest buildings. I think Vyasa would approve. A celebration and exploration using film, poetry, song, visual art and story at the Newport Folk Festival . A collaboration involving local, national and international minds and glued together by members of Storytelling Australia Victoria and the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club

We approached this project rather like a shambolic Book Club which a couple of us set up as an open group on Facebook. Our hope was to broaden and deepen our understanding of the epic. It wasn't long before storytellers, artists and other curious folk joined us from around the world and together we pecked away for 8 months exchanging links and and ideas. We decided that the exploration needed an outcome - some kind of event so the 'The Mahabharata Adventure' was born.

'The Adventure' was the brainchild of myself and Gerry Nelson from Storytelling Australia Victoria and includes SAV members Peter Fernon and Lana Woolf.Other adventurers came from the Newport Fiddle & Folk Club, Greg Hammond, Leonie Kervin and Christine McDonald. We are also indebted to Kala Paramanathan, Laura Sheridan, Rupa Anurendra and Anu Jegadeva, Aunty Nesa, Richard MacNeill and Michael Stewart as well as the countless enthusiasts who joined us on the journey from around the world via Facebook. Special thanks to Andy Fraenkel, Narayan Arunasalam, Kamini Ramachandran, Asha Sampath, GoodDay Tarmada and Kiran Shah.

Whatever is here, is found elsewhere. But what is not here, is nowhere else. ‘ (The Book of the Beginning)

Full Details for the Newport Folk Festival HERE

'The Sentimental Bloke 100 Years on' Newport Folk Festival 4 July 2015

Very excited to be part of 'The Sentimental Bloke 100 Years on'.

This project, developed especially for the Newport Folk Festival, will launch into the universe on Saturday July 4.

With Alan and Dave Davies recitin' the verse and Nicola Johnson doin' the tunes, I'll be narratin' the bits in between.

Check out all the details for the Festival HERE

Click on poster to enlarge

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Jackie and Dharma: Newport Folk Festival regulars 3 July 2015

One of my favourite gigs for the year, and chance to work with Dharma. We've been doing a spot for the kids since the festival first began. Long may we continue!

click to enlarge

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Williamstowm Literary Festival: Saturday and Sunday 13 and 14 June 2015

Tales from the Flyway 

June 13
2.00pm – 3.00 pm

Recently I met violinist Sarah Depasquale at the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club. We discovered we share a love of bikes, sensible shoes, binoculars and storytelling and decided to combine our skills in a collaborative storytelling adventure.

Sarah and I live in Hobsons Bay where there are five significant wetland sites. A week would not go past without us walking or riding our bikes along the ponds and checking in on the birds. Some of the migratory shore birds that travel between the Arctic tundra and SE Australia can be spotted over spring and summer. These are birds that connect us to countries via wetlands and transcend language and cultural boundaries. The corridors that the birds travel are called Flyways and Hobsons Bay is on the East Asian Australasian Flyway linking us to Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Mongolia …

What more inspiration does a musician and storyteller need?

The structure of Tales from the Flyway is simple. If we were to fly with the birds and visit the chain of wetlands in the countries along the flyway, what stories might we hear? Sarah and I have harvested stories from Indonesia, Thailand and Siberia. Our final story is a kamishibai story that has been passed down the Flyway from the Yatsuhigata Tideland in Japan (in 2008) to Boondall in Brisbane and then on to us (2015) for telling in Hobsons Bay. For me, receiving this story was very moving – a validation that there are people who see the big picture and don’t allow bureaucracy to get in the way of an idea. I thank the Yatsuhigata Tidelands Observation Centre, Brisbane City Council and the Rangers at Boondall Wetlands.

I would also like to thank City of Melbourne Arts Grants and the SAV series Words on the Wind that gave me time to work on this idea.

Hope some of you can join Sarah and me for Tales from the Flyway.

This is some video taken on world Migratory Bird day where Sarah and I adapted a story to share with children but please note  Tales from the Flyway is not suitable for the very young.

Kamishibai: Stories on a Bike 
June 14
12.00pm - 1.00pm

Kamishibai (paper theatre) is a kind of visual storytelling once popular in Japan in the 1930s and 40s. Connected to comic book making and anime, kamishibai is experiencing resurgence around the world. Many kamishibai storytellers who work in as many languages, connect via the internet to share ideas for building rigs and picture cards are swapped as jpegs or pdfs. Google translate is a wonder!

The box used to frame the pictures is called a ‘stage’. I have two – a beautiful handcrafted stage made from recycled eucalypt made by my friend Ted Smith from the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club and another that I made from papier mache and heavy duty cardboard. This one I can fix to my bike, take to the streets and parks and busk. If you are interested, you can see the plans for this one on the Storytelling Australia Victoria site under RESOURCES

I’d love to meet you in the Williamstown Town Hall at the Festival, tell some tales and share the magic of stories on wheels.

*(with children in mind but everyone will enjoy)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Kamishibai story travelling the Flyway: Williamstown Literary Festival 2015

This is a kamishibai story about the migration of the Red Necked Stints from SE Australia to Siberia and back. 

Its been passed down the East Asian Australasian Flyway from the Yatsuhigata Tideland Observation Centre in Narashino City Japan, to Boondall Wetland in Brisbane in 2008, to me in Hobsons Bay (SE Australia) in 2015. 

I'm standing on the Strand in Newport. You can see Melbourne in the background. Directly behind me is Sandy Point, where I can observe the stints from September to March. A tiny piece of land 12 ks from the CBD. Thank you to the council, the rangers, the Friends of Greenwich Bay - how fragile it all is! I wonder what we could send back along the Flyway to the wetlands in the countries to the north?

So if I seem Kamishibai obsessed, I think you might understand why. A mode of storytelling that leaps language barriers ..

I'm working on a storytelling piece with friend and classical violinist, Sarah Depasquale for the WIlliamstown Literary Festival called 'Tales from the Flyway'. This will be one of the tales.

Bookings HERE

This is the video that sparked my interest.

JP JUNIOR EVERLASTING BOOKS, an off shoot of JP Books (Educational Books)

Holding the fort for my good friend Dharma who is the driver behind JP Junior Everlasting Books, an off shoot of JP Books Educational Bookseller.

Everlasting Books specialises in selected picture books and favourites from a bygone era.

Dharma and I met through the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club almost a decade ago and quickly formed a bond over the ukulele and and interest in telling stories to the very young. Its not for the faint-hearted! Dharma has more songs and rhymes in her head than anyone I know. As our lives have grown busier and more complex, we have fewer opportunities to tell stories together but we always take time to do a session for the Newport Folk Festival the weekend of July 4 -5.

Every Thursday at 11.00 am, she tells stories and sings to small children and their carers. In over six years, she has never missed a session until the opportunity to go to Bali for a holiday came along.

It was my pleasure to sit in her place - but let me tell they are a very big pair of boots to fill!

Everlasting Books in Yarraville HERE

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Family Fun Day National Rhododendron Gardens. 2015

Telling stories with my new Kamishibai rig. These gardens are on Mt Dandenong just out of Melbourne. Home to the Lyrebird, which you can see painted on my dress. The new set up worked perfectly! The Kamishibai is tilted so the children could see easily without crowding around. Home tired and happy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

World Storytelling Day 2015

This year the theme for World Storytelling Day is 'wishes'. With the help of my friend Gerry Nelson, I recorded my very first Kamishibai story. Hmm perhaps I have stretched the concept of the wish a little, but hey! What the heck!

Enjoy ...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Making a Kamishibai rig for my bike.

So much as I love my wooden Kamishibai stage made by my friend Ted Smith, it is just too precious for the the rough and tumble gigs. So I decided to try and make a lighter one.

Turns out, we had some super thick cardboard in the shed - industrial strength.

I'll let the pictures tell the story. Suffice to say - I have been enjoying myself, I think it looks fabulous and it works!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

House Concert for Storyteller Taffy Thomas

It was thrill to learn a few months back, that revered UK storyteller Taffy Thomas would be visiting Victoria. Storytelling Australia Victoria tried to get Taffy into some public venues but at such short notice - it was just not possible. The 'big houses' in town plan a year ahead.

So we opened up the doors to our home and hosted a 'Welcome Taffy Thomas House Concert'. Here are few pics from the day.

Taffy was the first Storytelling Laureate in the UK and held that position for two years. Some time ago, he acquired a Tale Coat". This coat is an exquisite piece of work crafted by one of Britain's finest textile artists.  We were lucky to see it up close.

 The House Concert was made possible by the support of Storytelling friends from Storytelling Australia Victoria, Jan Wositzky and Teena Hartnett. Other contributors included musicians Michael Stewart and Bruce Williams from the Newport Fiddle and Folk Club. It was documented by Gerry Nelson and Alex Kharnam and in time we hope to have some of it up on you tube so others can enjoy.


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