10th to 12th February 2012

Oh no.. it’s the last of our weekends together at Emerson, on the craft of storytelling course. Once more it is so beautiful as snow gently covers the college grounds.

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There is such a mix of emotions and nervousness as we each prepare to tell a story to the assembled group. In preparation we think about the ‘Fourth Voice’ of the storyteller, which is using the voice of the authentic self – speaking with integrity, belief, presence, and honest vulnerability. The poet Rumi said: Speak from your inner self to the innermost part of the listener. With this voice it is possible to go deep and stay real. We recognise this voice, the voice of the authentic self, when we hear it. Some practices help us to discover something of its quality – playing with conversation and silence, and gradually increasing the times of silence, so that we speak with one another from out of the ground of silence. Silence becomes the clothing around the words, the space allowing another form of communication.  We write poems about snow and silence.

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Soft, white crystals transform the landscape’s voice and I bend to listen.

What are the challenges and gifts of silence? What does it mean to model silence in our being together? We discuss the need to name the challenges, to negotiate, to contract for silence, to feel safe. Biographical work can help us to discover our authentic voice, and Roi models this for us with a ‘bedtime story’ from his own experience, including a King Solomon story. In this the king seeks to humble a boastful servant by giving him the impossible task of discovering a magic ring – one that makes the happy person sad and the sad person happy. ..These things shall pass..

The next day the feast of stories begins, and what a wonderful banquet it is!

We travel the world and range across different cultures: Ireland, Burma, Native American lands, Turkey, Africa, India, Morocco, Norse legends, Scandinavian mystery, tales with a Mayan twist, the Rabbi’s gift, Grimms tales, goblins and elves, Hans Christian Andersen, healing story. They are all, in different ways, personal to the teller. We see rich colours of many landscapes, smell the smells both fragrant and repugnant, hear the music, feel the power of silence, join in the actions, laugh and cry.

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By Saturday afternoon we are pretty much storied out.. though some of us enjoy a gorgeous walk up Pixton Hill, and watch an amazing sunset.

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Tiredness is struggled with as we don’t want to miss an evening of Valentine stories – stories of love from traditional and biographical sources. My favourite teller was Heleni, telling her story of love lost and re-discovered in the land of Greece, as well as a hilarious story of a little cockroach, La Cucharacha, from Cuba, told in English and Spanish.

Revived by such lively (and sometimes surprisingly raunchy telling) some of us continue the evening with imaginative exercises to try and create a collective name for the group (still work in progress), then more games, and much, much more laughter. Above us the night sky is clear and sparkling with stars – more stories there!

The end of the weekend comes all too soon, and we take time to talk more about next steps. More courses tantalise, ideas are shared in abundance as we discuss ways of celebrating story in story clubs or circles, ceilidhs, story evenings, how to craft a programme, a menu that will attract and not cause indigestion! We have plans afoot to keep connected, and are already using one another as story resources.

We take time for goodbyes, for more laughter, hugs and tears… who knows where the time goes, but this time has been very special, and there will be more stories to share further down the line.

Here’s the song I play a snippet of in my telling: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f15UwZ-u2uY

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