Storytelling Workshop

The Next Step.

I’ve recently returned from a brilliant 2 day storytelling workshop, led by Michael Harvey.  I’ve had the priviledge of attending one of his intensive performance courses at the Bleddfa Centre in Wales and so I knew this was going to be excellent.

Inside Little Holland House
Inside Little Holland House

Our venue was Little Holland house – now a museum looked after by Sutton Heritage.  My Storyteller friend Andy Copps, hosted the weekend, spoiling us with delicious lunches and endless tea and coffee. We were lucky enough to have a tour of the house which revealed the most intricately designed furniture, beautiful paintings and delightful garden.  All created by artist Frank Dickinson in 1902.  It was such a pleasure to bond with others from different backgrounds and disciplines, creating stories, sharing our work in such an aesthetically pleasing space.

The weekend focussed on using specific tools from our storytelling kit to venture into areas of our story that we may find challenging. ‘The grit is often where the pearl is’ remarked Michael and he was right.

Wendy Shearer and other storytellers on the Workshop
Belinda, Andy, me, Siddharth, Lucy, Pyn, Titania, Shirley, Michael, Nana. Crouching row: Sarah, Hannah, Camilla.

Friends and laughter

One of the best things about attending a storytelling workshop is all the friends you make!  I’ve met so many wonderful people over the years from these workshops and created friendships where we can support each other with practice, attend each other’s shows, create shows together and most of all, share lots and lots of laughter. Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE to laugh. Storytelling can be quite a physical activity – oh yes, we don’t sit still and just speak.  Michael wasted no time in getting us to be physical with each other.  In the tranquil garden, we were dancing, yelling from our bellies, geticulating madly and being led around in pairs blindly.

Since my professional storytelling journey began, I’ve been on several storytelling workshops including one led by the renowned Storyteller Jan Blake, an intensive week in the Netherlands with Peter Frumann from Story Bag  and more recently with Ben Haggarty from the Crick Crack Club.  I always find a favourite exercise or tool after attending a storytelling workshop. Something that moves me forward.  My favourite from this weekend is one called ‘surprise and pauses’.  We did a few playful exercises to practice how we could bring this into a storytelling performance and then tried it out with each other during our peer to peer review.  I found myself suddenly barking out loud (as one of my characters in the story) and shocking everyone in the room.  It’s a great tool to use when you need to change pace in your story, in particular if you are telling a long tale. I’m definitely going to play with surprises and pauses as part of my ‘next step’.