The Art Of Storytelling For Adults
Byron Shire Storytellers Event, September 21st 2013
The story is told eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart.
Scottish Traveller Proverb
Since I separated earlier this year, Ned has been going to his daddy most Saturday nights. I’ve been using this time to catch up on work and blogging and sleep. But life cannot be all work and no fun. Especially when my blog is called ‘Parenting Fun Everyday’, right?
So last night I pulled myself off the couch (where I was happily reading the paper and nibbling on a bit of chocolate), and Jack and I took in a night of Storytelling Fun, an event put on the Byron Shire Storytellers. How did I not know this group existed? Two of my awesome storytelling friends, Susan Perrow and Sandra Frain, are in it!
Held in the Drill Hall in Mullumbimby, (Drill Hall? Yes. It feels like a place just right for the army, with the heavy black and red walls and noisy timber floor but we’ll forgive them that), it was a night for us adults to dip into the joys of listening to stories that might peak our interest and inspire our picture-making daydreaming abilities.
I mean, when was the last time you did that? Right? Me either.
I missed most of the first guy, arriving only to hear his last song about virgins. Mmmm…. not really my style but perhaps the late entry meant I missed something in the translation.
But the rest of the night was magic.
Sydney Storyteller Ebba Bodame retold Shel Silverstein’s, The Giving Tree- one of my favourite all-time stories.
Susan Perrow recited her story of the “The Flowered Kimono” (find the PDF version of the story via google here), a story of tragedy, grief, recovery and love after the Japanese tsunami. What a picture this paragraph painted…
…Then the rainbow spirits called on the cleansing rain. Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter.
The tailor was woken out of his sorrow by the falling of raindrops.
And when he looked up into the sky, there was a shining rainbow of coloured threads,
washed clean by the rain, stretching from heaven down to earth.
Sandra Frain and friends narrated a simple version of ‘Sweet Porridge’, complete with metres of sheer yellow-hued organza unravelling over the stage as the porridge spilled over the pot and filled the town. Sandra hints that we might look at this story of ever-growing, overflowing porridge through modern eyes as the overload of stimulation and information we are all subjected to each day. I like Sandra’s idea that all we have to do to stop it is to say ‘stop!’ “Stop, porridge pot, stop”.
Yes, as parents, we too can say ‘Stop’ whenever we want to. STOP to the materialism, STOP to commercial overload, STOP to more and more toys and junk mail and ever-changing wants. Although I love junk mail and seeing the specials, I don’t love the fact that Ned now also loves it. He now greets the delivery girl and collects it to check out the latest toys and finds, and likes to cut out his favourite pics. Sometimes, listening to his stories of what he now wants drives me mad!
Stop. Stop. Stop. What a story for our times, don’t you think?
Later, a lady whom I’m never met, spoke the story of Persephone and the returning of spring-time. With gallant gestures, and a rich powerful but not overwhelming voice, she guided our imaginations back to the time of the Greek Gods. I love this story, it is one of my favourites, but now I love it even more! What a gift it was to sit in this room.
Ilona Harker, a local songstress from Brunswick Heads, wowed the crowd with her vocal charms and stories in song but never more so when she forgot a song and came back from that hiccup with bravery and honest loveliness.
But for me, the night belonged to Mullumbimby girl, Jenni Cargill-Strong. I LOVE Jenni, and listening to her stories live must be one of the world’s most delightful ways to spend an hour or two. But mostly, I’ve heard her tell stories for children. Last night, she told us stories for adults. And I’m even more enamoured with her work. And slightly jealous of her talent, I must say!
My favourite was her story of place, her tribute to the songlines of this country. Jenni told us of her affection (one shared by all Mullum/Bruns locals) for Mt Chincogan and her desire to know the ‘story’ of this divine landmark that greets everybody that drives the road from the highway into town. (If you’ve never done this drive, then do put it onto your bucket list. Seeing that mountain for the first time as you head over the rise is one of life’s loveliest landscape views ever.)
Now, Jenni told us she had been searching for this story for years, consulting the council, the Elders of the area, and just about anyone who might have an idea but she had found nothing. Evidently, as far as the locals are aware, the story has been lost. But Jenni did find out that Mt Chincogan is one of three- brothers so-called ‘Mt Chincogan, Tincogan, and something else…cogan’. So Jenni decided to write her own as a tribute to this place she loves and hopes that this story might be shared and might become THE story of this land and place. I think it should. Beautiful.
Jenni’s story began with the Creator who made this land, and the three sky spirits that wanted to help clothe it. The story travelled over years to introduce us to those who took from the land, to the arrival of the rainbow people who began to give back and take care. I loved the rules given by the creator to each one of the Mountain brothers.
Take care of the Earth, Sky and Sea.
Take care of the creatures of the Earth, Sky and Sea.
Take care of the people of the Earth, Sky and Sea.
(I got the shivers. I’d say these might just be the perfect “rules” for us all to live by. We don’t need much else.)
But I’m not about to give it all away. I’d love for you to join Jenni’s Story Tree facebook page and support her work instead.
And keep a look out for Jenni. She’s often telling stories at events and festivals. Woodford for example.
And if you are in the area for school holidays, or just visiting for the day, Jenni is at the Byron Library this Friday for a free storytelling session for kids too. Grab the opportunity with both hands!