Meeting Wordsworth

  
This darling little creature is named Wordsworth, who made his debut with me at the Midsummer Faerie Rade this past Sunday. 

He spent the day playing wih children and trying to nibble my nose as I answered questions about his construction. 

For a creature without a voice, he certainly made himself noticed; delighting the kids by playing fetch, stealing candy, and revelling in belly scratches. 

After prompting from the children he developed a complex and amusing backstory, as being a book eating creature who takes on elements of the books that he eats (wolves from Red riding hood, little gems from a book on jewelery making, scales from a book on reptiles, feathers from a book on how to train parrots…etc) with the only thing he can eat without absorbing elements from being bananas.

Thank you to Cassie and Duncan for these photos of Wordsworth’s first outing.

  

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Catching up

Please excuse the lack of updates, I was recently in a nasty car accident and have been busy recovering while juggling performances. 

But never fear, the wounds are scars and the time in and out of hospitals just gave me more time to muse on projects!

I performed recently back at the Bull and Bear, where I haven’t performed since my first ever show in 2012… What a wonderful feeling to look back on that again and see how far my path has lead me! 

Village Festival has come and gone along with a whirlwind of other events… My my, I missed a lot of updates in my juggling. 

Stay tuned for some amazi plots and plans in 2016! 

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Echoes of Heirlooms Looms Large

   

Well, well, well! That went quick! I have been in and out of junk markets, tip shops, antique bazaars and museums big and small, all in the quest for some stories for my upcoming show Echoes of Heirlooms, for the Glen Eira Storytelling Festival. 

And I found so very, very many curious things and their wonderful, sad, beautiful stories found me. I can’t wait to share them with the audience on Monday!

Tickets are sold out, packed to the gills, which is why I haven’t been pushing it on social media…there is no room for more! 

Pictures and such will surely follow, including this little one’s story…

a strange little cocoon appeared not long after i started my hunt for oddities…..

 

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The Mystery of the Cave

I have been spending a lot of my Summer on the edges of land and sea, exploring and scavenging the rocks and murky mangroves, caves and yellow beaches.

I will leave my baffling little account of one of these explorations in an equally silly way of telling it…
page one

page two

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Finding the Bunyip – Researching for ATRTI

The most popular question asked of any artistic type is ‘where do you get your ideas from?’

The question changes to ‘stories’ a lot for storytellers, but it is all the same, and it is always a hard question to answer, so I thought, for interest sake, that I would look back on the stories from As the River Tells It and give a little behind-the-scenes look at the research and growth of the stories.

Finding the Bunyip

The Show

The brief handed to me was to tell stories inspired by the Docklands precinct. The Docklands history was the first thing I dug around in, both through the net and books, as well as interviewing my grandpa who arrived here over 85 years ago via the Docks.

I learnt of the aboriginal tribes, the river’s original course, ships, immigrants, industry… Lots of little nuggets of historic gold to spin in to fantastical tales.

I knew I wanted Matt Brown and Matt Hood involved straight away, having worked with them on so many other projects we all work so well together. Matt Brown is spellbinding with his music, and can live mix it to match wherever I take my tales.

Matt Hood made the beautiful bunyip puppet that stole the show (and the question time) with roars, menacing lumbering, and a few nibbles of children’s ankles!

Why a bunyip? You’ll see.

The Ghost’s Pipe

There were a lot of maritime disasters in a book I was reading (Shipwrecks of Port Phillip) and that prompted a story of sailors.

The final piece of the puzzle was from an article on Maritime Superstitions:

“At sea, some words must be strictly avoided to ensure the ship and crew’s safe return. These include obvious ones like “drowned” and “goodbye”. If someone says “good luck” to you, it is sure to bring about bad luck. The only way to reverse the curse is by drawing blood, so usually a good punch in the nose will do.”

Ol’ Snickersnack

Based on a dream from long long ago, this tale was originally told to a sick friend on a whim as a strange sort of personal tale that ended with Ol’ Snickersnack being tricked in to thinking my heart was in my stomach and that was how I came to have my gallbladder removed.

So you see? Sticky toffee doesn’t seem so weird now, does it?

The Chimney

Well, this one was very well received. It was a simple tale really, an urban legend based on a photo of an old chimney in a field that I was looking at while listening to these lyrics:

oh mrs. o

will you tell us where the naughty children go

will you show

how the sky turned white and everybody froze

heaven knows how they got into the fireplace

but everybody’s saying grace

and trying to keep a happy face

– Mrs. O, The Dresden Dolls

The scarf was lying on my dresser the morning of the show, so I packed it and played with it all day..somehow it made it on stage as the perfect way to get the audience to visualise the creature.

The Chimney

Miss Begotten

A poem I wrote in 2012 for The Red Bird and Death…I had to tell it as one of my favourite fans was in the audience, and it is her favourite.

This poem is a story of love with an unfaithful man, the jilted lover becomes something of a ghoul in the orchards. Being that I live on old orchard land myself, I thought it relevant to the theme.

And besides that, it always gets a good reaction of revolution when she rips her lover apart 😉

The Bunyip

I knew I wanted a bunyip from day one. I didn’t know how, but I wanted it. As a child, on trips down to a small fishing village were I spent all of my childhood holidays, we would stop at the lookout at Bunyip River and I would strain my eyes at the muddy waters, looking for a bobbing head or swish of a tail.

Bunyip River

I went a little nuts researching Bunyips from my already extensive personal library as well as my local libraries. I found some wonderfully interesting tidbits that made me feel this was exactly the monsters for my last story.

Being originally an aboriginal myth, I was nervous, until I realised that this creature was also a major part of our collective history…such as:

Page from Research

The story of Mr. Green and his assistant Samuel was written for a laugh between Miss Begotten and The Dirt Sister.

The Dirt Sister

Originally written for two of my dearest friends on their wedding day (as a gift, requested by them) the story was prompted by research on death rituals and phenomena for another tale (a version of Cinderella).

When I found out about ‘Angel Lust’ the story just spilled forth from there…. No pun intended.

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2014 – In Summary

2014 is nearly over….And here I am, sliding in to home base by the skin of my teeth whooping and cheering about how awesome the game is*.

a bunch of moments from 2014

There were plays, festivals, grants, new jobs, interviews with the media and amazing new productions all through 2014, but I am looking now square in the eyes of some serious rest time. A good week, or at least a few days!

But never fear. The new year holds some very exciting things, and more time to focus on my creative output.

The Goblin Ball for next year looks even better(!) than this year, and I may have a few more fun surprises up my sleeve.

Looking forward to sharing in the new year!

* I do not sportsball, I have no idea if this is a good analogy.

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As The River Tells It

question time

As Thursday afternoon drew to a close, the grey skies loomed…but from the puddled streets came people, flooding in to the theatre with a drink or two and an excited buzz to hear some new stories woven around them.

I was nervous as all hell, both myself and Matt, my puppeteer had been rottenly sick the week before and we had not had a full dress rehearsal for our little friend (seen above during my interview after the show, carefully considering biting the toes of a child). Obviously, I shouldn’t have been bothered with a single lip bite or furrowed brow…our dear puppet charmed the socks off everyone, adding the final charming cherry to the top of a delicious cake.

Here is a review posted online about the event that makes me blush to the tips of my toes with joy.:

On Thursday, Miles and I got to go along to the new and rather fantastic Library At The Docklands to see a storytelling performance by Roslyn Quin. Held as part of Words On The Wind, a wonderful program of stories that we utterly failed to get to, with this exception.
I thought it deserved a review.

It is a sort of secret that Melbourne has a thriving Storytelling community. Having discovered it a couple of years ago I, and my son, have become discerning but enthusiastic fans. And have found it not at all difficult to recruit our friends to come and listen too.
Among the very best of the local Tellers is Roslyn Quin. Heavily inspired by European folklore of monsters and magic. Of the powerful and the clever, she spins a mixture of tales; some are her own while others are traditional tales, but told in a way that highlights perhaps overlooked aspects.

The sense that you get with Roslyn’s work is that the story is not just being related, it is being explored. There is humour and horror, fear and courage…and most of all a very recognisable and relatable humanity among her heroes and her villains. Even the ones covered in scales or fur.

Her presentation is not at all sing-song or overly-polished, and as such it grabs attention. Her delighted willingness to work with props and puppets and inanimate objects that suddenly start growling also adds a level of surprise, though she can hold a crowd just as readily by simply waving a silk scarf to indicate the desperate searching of a spirit looking for companionship.

Roslyn tells audiences that her inspiration was Jim Henson’s The Storyteller, and this is clear in the way her voice moves through the characters of her tales, but while Hensen’s narrator sat in a big chair, Roslyn delivers her stories in a more dynamic way. Pacing and exploring a stage or an audience, using subtle cues in her movements to impart tone. Delivering even her characters screams in a soft voice that rivets the attention of kids and adults alike, so that they do not miss out on anything.

We have seen Roslyn perform her Red Bird And Death show amidst dozens of props and monsters, as a stand-alone teller using nothing but her voice and gesture, and a few points in between. It is very much my intention to see many more of her performances to come, and to see the evolution and expansion of her style and material. I highly recommend you catch one of her performances. Bring friends along. I promise they are not too old for storytime!”

Much thanks to the Docklands Library and the City of Melbourne x

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Midsummer Night’s Dream and Faerie Rades!

 

 A Midsummer Night's Dream - Australian Shakespeare Company

A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by the Australian Shakespeare Company under the stars at the Royal Botanic Gardens

It will come as no surprise to you that I love A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but it does surprise me that it’s taken me so long to get along to one of the summer performances by the Australian Shakespeare Company in the Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens.

Held in one of the best gardens in the city (and in the Garden State, that’s a tough call) under the setting sun, as the warmth of the day starts to fade – a stone’s through from the Shrine of Remembrance and the Observatory – the ASC put on this classic every year.

Rugs and picnic dinners spread everywhere, people sprawl on the lawn to watch the tangle of lovers and fae on stage as the sky above fades from blue to pink, to violet then deep blue with winking stars and fruit bats on silent wing overhead. The dew settles and the wine glasses swap to coffee mugs as Puck announces intermission amidst playful acrobatic faerie antics…and I wonder distantly if the ASC has been training with the NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts).

A Midsummer Night Picnic, rug, rosé and Roslyn legs!

A Midsummer Night Picnic: rug, rosé and Roslyn legs!

Naturally my favorite character is Puck (I’ve a soft spot for tricksters….as I’ve found a lot of storytellers have), and by the time the show closed “If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended….” I was about ready to move in to the garden and start being a full time faerie myself.

It’s a terribly good thing that the Faerie Rade is next weekend, else I’d be at a loose end.

I’ve got almost everything gathered for the faerie rade this year. Just a few fancies to add a final touch to.

This year I have given up my crown to the new Queen elect and will be traveling around in a much more roguish role as a sort of Herald/Host and incidental storyteller with my dear friend Will (obviously he won’t be telling….but he’ll be loud-mouthing with me).

I can’t think of a more relaxing way of launching the very busy year of 2014 (in this week alone I’ve had meetings with four separate projects to plan fun things!) than a picnic with some fae friends (and if it’s anything like last year; unicorns, knights, pirates and even a 5 year old ninja turtle…)  in the park.
More more info on the performance go here: http://shakespeareaustralia.com.au/a-mid-summers-night-dream-25th-anniversary-production/ 

To find out about the upcoming Faerie Rade: http://www.goldenowlevents.com/the-midsummer-faerie-rade-2014.html  (yep, that’s me and my king on that page…This year there will be a different royalty, the Queen being the same lovely creature who played my daughter at last year’s Goblin ball!)


Categories: Dear Diary, Fantasy Events, Storytelling Events | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Inspirations – Slava Polunin

 

The Inspirational Slava Polunin

One of the best shows I’ve seen, Slava’s Snowshow, I saw entirely by accident. My darling friend Lilly had an extra ticket and I tailed along, not really knowing what to expect.

What I walked out with was sore muscles from laughter, smudged make-up from tears, and a complete ‘love affair with everything’ buzz as I picked snowfetti out of my hair to lovingly tuck into the program I had shyly held out for signatures (I get tongue-tied very easily when I’m overwhelmed…it’s pretty much the only way to get me to be quiet).

My favorite act from Slava’s Snowshow

That show and other pieces of Slava’s work has always been an inspiration for me and a reminder to what movement can do – but then today this came across one of my feeds…and I became even more in awe of the man.

The show I saw drew down the barrier between children and adults to get genuine reactions of enchantment and wonder.
And that – more than anything – is something I aspire to.

I don’t want to say too much more as the video and pictures can easily speak for themselves and I am mostly putting this here so I don’t loose a link that will no doubt be a regular visit when I get stuck.

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/think-clowns-creepy-slava-polunin/

So who inspires you? I have a whole list of posts like this planned but if you think there’s someone that needs to be mentioned – don’t wait. Comment!

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New Friends

Dörte

The Wonderful Dörte Henschel doing what she does best (Not my photo)

This weekend I caught up with the delightful Dörte Hentschel from Berlin. I was so excited to meet Dorte as we are both the same age.

This may seem silly, but in the Storytelling world I do not get to meet people who are in the same stage of life as I am, and I am sure Dörte felt the same way.

We hit it off fantastically, relating on quite a lot of topics and easily falling in to comfortable conversation over a delicious meal and then a quick trip to one of my favorite op shops.

Speaking with Dörte over lunch and again at Ladders to the Moon, has given me a great perspective on Melbourne and the English Language – as she speaks so favorably about the rhythm in our language and the charm of our sun burnt land.

I also got a insight on her own storytelling projects and the challenges she faces with old tales that tie to the darker side of Germanic history and how she is attempting to work around them in creative and sensitive ways.

Over cacao smoothies I enthused to her on monsters and my love of them when they reflect something not as cruel, but as natural predators or protectors (such as bunyips protecting their young as any mother of any species would or preying on children who come close to their stomping ground – not with malice but simply as part of the food chain as any tiger, wolf or bear might).

We discussed the expectation of travelling storytellers to tell stories from their own land and weather it was relevant – as well as many other non-story related topics.

All in all, I was utterly charmed by Dörte, both her stories and her insights, and I can’t wait until she visits Melbourne again! If she’s performing here again I’ll let you all know.

 

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