Storytelling in Ecuador

Wendy Shearer storytelling in Colegio Menor School, Ecuador

Mountains, volcanos & local food

I’ve recently returned from storytelling in Ecuador with Dream On Productions. It was part of a 3 week tour where I spent the first 2 weeks storytelling in Schools in Bogotá, Colombia before visiting schools in Quito, Ecuador. My first impression of Ecuador, was the vast landscape.  The capital Quito, is a vibrant city mixed with modern (late 1950s) and colonial architecture.  The city is flanked by towering mountains and volcanos to the west.  On a clear day, once the mist has faded  you can see some of Ecuador’s hightest mountains – all over 5000 meters high.

Mountains in Ecuador

My Tour Manager Sandro Rota is from Ecuador. Upon my arrival he had prepared a lovely introduction to some of Ecuador’s finest food – fruits and cocoa!  With a helpful personally drawn guide, I was able to identify and try out a variet of local food and sweet chocolate.

Ecuadorian fruit and chocolate
Granadilla, tamarillo, golden berry and banana passion fruit.

On my days off he shared wonderful folktales and stories about the history of his country whilst taking me around the monuments and churches within The Old Town.

Basílica del Voto Nacional
Basílica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow)

Fables, Myths & Folktales

My storytelling sessions took place at these outstanding schools: Collegiate Terra Nova, SEK, Liceo Campoverde, and Colegio Menor. Within the schools, students ranged from aged 5 years to 11 years old and as they are bi/multilingual schools their understanding of English is quite good.  For older students I told some of my favourite Greek Myths from The Odyssey and darker African folktales around Anansi and his brushes with death.  For the younger children I told short Aesops fables – my favourite being The Fox and the Crow.  This story is about a bird who has found some food which she holds tightly in her beak whilst sitting in a tree.  The sly fox comes along and asks her questions to make her open her beak so that she can drop the cheese which he would eat.

Wendy Shearer storytelling in Colegio Menor School, Ecuador

Interactive Storytelling Sessions

With the story of the ‘Fox and the Crow’, I’ve created a performance of this story which is interactive with children.  I first taught them a short welcome song which I had made up. I began my story by playing them some audio sounds of an atmospheric forest.  I asked children to name what they could hear in our forest.  It really set the scene for the story and gave them a chance to join in with ideas of what they could hear. Then I began with the welcome song for the story which the bird sings first thing in the morning to welcome in the day.  The children sang along with me.

When the fox entered the story I asked children to come up with ideas of questions that he could ask the bird to make her open her mouth.  This is my favourite part of the story because once again children love to get involved and create the story with me.  It doesn’t actually matter what questions they come up with as it’s a chance for them to let their imagination run free.

I moved the story forward by trying out each question suggested by the children, until someone either guesses the right question or I tell them the right question that makes the bird open her mouth and sing her welcome song.  The children  automatically sang the welcome song with me.  I love the proud look on a child’s face when their idea has been included in my story.  It’s once of my favourite techniques for children to create a story with me and it works for all ages.

Wendy Shearer, professional Storyteller asking a child for her idea in the story

When storytelling with older children I ask them to come up with an ending for the story before I finish the tale.  Students in Ecuador loved this activity and were bursting with ideas.  Sometimes I pressed them for more description and detail. I’m always impressed with how well they’ve listened to clues during the story which helps form their ending.

All the schools in Ecuador were incredibly welcoming and showed great pride in their love for storytelling and story creation.  It was such a wonderful, unique experience to be able to travel across the world and share this ancient tradition which brings people of all ages and cultures together in one captivating moment.