Friday, August 26, 2005

Reading Rocks

Well here's the 'Reading Rocks' movie I made for presenting at the Redlands Shire branch libraries. It went fairly well especially at the second show at Capalaba. The kids there joined in with the song well and enjoyed the joke of the books reading.
Brockie the Rock down at South Bank

One of the reading  rocks

It was a big audience. A child care centre group and a kindergarten attended as well. One of the regular girls brought along a wonderfully decorated rock princess. It had braided hair with little pink hair clips, eyes, mouth a tutu like skirt made from a patty cake paper cup. I really enjoy it when parents and kids work together like that.

Dial up version - 804 kbytes QT movie

Better quality sound - 3.1MB QT movie

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Children's Book Week is upon us!

Yes that's right. Another year! Another Children's Book Week! Another Children's Book Week Theme! This year it's 'Reading Rocks'. Well of course it does!

Trust me though I immediately thought of rocks. You know those hard stoney things you trip over and crack your big toe on when you're running down a bush track.

I had a great couple of days and nights up at Stanthorpe Library running some workshops for writers young and old and doing some performances. I asked the motel manager if I could borrow one of his rocks for a stage prop. He gave me a strange look but he did help me lift it out of the garden and into the boot of the car. It looked quite good on stage in the Stanthorpe Civic Centre Supper Room with my beanie on it's head and my scarf around his kneck.

I've made a movie called Reading Rocks for the Cleveland and Capalaba Library shows and I promise to upload it when I get a spare few minutes.

Enjoy Book Week 2005,

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Now hosting on my own site - yes!

Sometimes a storyteller has to stay up late at night slaving over a hot blog editor. Well tonight it has been worth it because I've managed to migrate my blog over to my own server using Blogger's FTP feature.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Qld Stories Digital Storytelling Projects

In amongst my regular storytelling performances in kindergartens, preschools and schools I've been helping to organise a couple of community cultural development Digital Storytelling projects in local libraries. They've been funded by State Library of Queensland - Queensland Stories Grants.

The first one is with the Brisbane City Council and is being run at their Chermside Branch Library. It will be following up on some multimedia workshops for young people previously run by SpeakOut at the library. We'll be working with young people in the area to combine their multimedia skills with rap and hip hop and digital storytelling.

There are still some spots in our participant group so, if you, or someone you know in the Chermside, Wavell Heights, Zillmere, Aspley area, is interested send me an email and we'll introduce you to the group and the wonderful world of digital storytelling with a cool rap beat.

The second project is 'Loving Logan - Adapting to a New City' being run, of course, by Logan City Library in association with MultiLink at Woodridge and SpeakOut. There are quite a range of community cultural groups and individuals interested in telling their individual and group stories digitally and in acquiring some community multimedia skills along the way. The first meeting with the community groups was really exciting and I'm looking forward to getting together again and getting into the stories.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Digital Storytelling at ACMI

Printing out our movie pics at the front of the booth in the ACMI foyer.

I've had the pleasure of completing one of ACMI's (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) public digital storytelling workshops - three days and a night of work in their digital lab in the bowels of their Federation Square building with a really interesting group of participants, staff and volunteers.

ACMI is very organised with their Digital Storytelling courses. It was a pleasure to be see a lab full of Macs to work on (30 all told), scanners, sound recording booths - all networked for easy transfer of files. We all ended the weekend with a digital story on a DVD. Mine was an 'appreciation' of our trips down the Newell Highway to Deniliquin called 'Southern Migration'. You can do the trip south with me from here. (1.3 meg QT movie)

Newell Highway creek sign - Little Bumble Creek
Mural on side of a Mendooran shop.

Other people had addressed quite serious subjects through the process.The potential of digital storytelling as both personal and community cultural development tools is really obvious. Good training is important however and the ACMI certainly provided that.

I also enjoyed learning some new software (well new for me) - Adobe Premier. It has some interesting little quirks but is basically very good - quite user friendly. It's a good step up from iMovie with it's limitation on only one video track. ACMI had a good selection of their Digital Storytelling collection on display in the Memory Grid. It's a good opportunity to see some great examples which have come out of public workshops and community projects. You can find more information on their web site -

Monday, May 16, 2005

A Super Chicken Performance

Had the pleasure of performing at the Ipswich Art Gallery opening on Saturday morning. They had a great children's art exhibition on and had organised quite an array of entertainment and activities to add interest and impact for the kids.

Super Chicken exhibition pamphlet

The theme was 'Super Chicken - a fowl exhibition for children.' Some of Christopher Trotters' wonderful junk sculptures like the 'Red Fan Tailed Rooster' in their promo pamphlet were the most dynamic from my storyteller's point of view.

Of course I had to see what my repertoire could offer in terms of 'chicken' stories and, once I saw the audience, I settled on 'The Little Red Rooster Who Found a Diamond Button.' It turned out highly appropriate in the circumstances as the audience was a fair mix on ages and the story is both dynamic and fun. For the second show I improvised a story with the Christopher Trotter pieces as the characters and the chook house as the setting.

It was fun. I was able to get quite a few kids out the front contributing to the story and introducing each other and basically having a good time.

The performance reminded me of one of the strengths of storytelling and that is the fact that you can easily swap from character to character with a single step or a change of voice or the wave of a hand. It's one reason why I don't perform in costume or mask which can also limit a storyteller's ability to build a good rapport and connection with an audience.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

A Moving Story

Big clean up of the garden shed for Mum today. Dad sure was a collector. He kept so many bits of wood to make and repair things with that the old shed was full.



We found old brass taps, soldering irons, a big ladle that Uncle Alf used for melting down lead to repair gas pipes for the Brisbane Gas company, a Carbide Lamp, bits of chicken wire all neatly rolled up and tied with a piece of string and, right down the back, was the market bag barrow.

It was the sort of solid barrow or trolley that you could wheel a bag of flour or spuds on and, of course, when we were kids, Dad used to wheel us around the back yard for a bit of fun.


Deb Barrow

It reminds me of the story of how he went to the Brisbane markets as a young boy helping his father drive the horse and cart from the shop in Auchenflower to the Roma Street markets. When Grandfather was backing the horse up to load up some vegies a couple of pigeons that had been eating spilt grain on the road flew up in front of the horse. The horse shied and reared up, throwing my Dad onto the road between the hooves of the rearing horse.

The market men in those days were well used to horses. One grabbed a bag and threw it over the horse's eyes to calm it, another grabbed the reins and a third pulled the boy out of the way. Dad lived to grow up with a love for life and for interesting pieces of wood and stones from the Oodnadatta Track and music, lots of music.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Treasure Chest of ..... ?

Performance ReadyI've been performing as a storyteller for around 20 years now and this old tin trunk has been my faithful companion and sidekick for most of those years. I've carried it into so many shows I've got a certain fondness for it.

To be honest I don't know what it thinks of me, it's hardly been pampered. Then again, I have kept it out of the rain and off the rubbish heap. I have given it a purpose in life, a good, honest, inspiring job to do. It carries my storytelling props from show to show much like it once carried my grandfather's camp gear from railway surveying camp to railway surveying camp.

Somewhere we have a copy of a letter my grandfather Bob Bellingham sent home as a teenager from, we assume, his first job away from home. He was employed as a surveyor's assistant to chop down the prickly pears in the surveyor's line of sight on the new railway being built out across the Darling Downs in south west Queensland.

What's inside?

It's a good prop itself of course. It's a dead ringer for a treasure chest and it's been the stimulus for many a good pirate story. There's been a couple of tall tales told about my grandfather's involvement with pirates in the past as well. That story usually ends with my confessing that Bob Bellingham spent all the treasure on a new house on Balmoral Heights, a two toned blue Austin A40 car, lots of cigars and wild afternoons spent at the Gaythorne bowls club.

My toy box

I tell the kids that, by the time I got the trunk, the only thing that was left in it was a tattered, old map.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Indigenous Digital Storytelling Project

Riverina TAFE Indigenous Digital Storytelling WorkshopPart of the reason for being in Deniliquin was to run a couple of storytelling workshops at the request of the local Aboriginal community. In cooperation with the Riverina TAFE and Jennifer Edwards, Head Teacher IT, they are running a Digital Storytelling course. There's little point in publishing stories in either hard copy or digital format if they aren't interesting or entertaining so that's where I came in.

It was an interesting time to be in Deniliquin because, in between the two storytelling workshops, an Indigenous Place Names seminar was held. This was start of the process of getting local Wamba Wamba names on maps and road signs along side the current non-indigenous ones.

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the Digital Storytelling workshops. I suspect they are happening at an important time. Some will be personal 'day in the life' stories. Some will be traditional stories in both Wamba and English text and local illustrations. We had a good time yarning, playing storytelling games and activities and getting people's stories into the computers. We've brought home a dictionary of Wamba Wamba words so, next time we're down there we won't go swimming in the Edward River, we'll be in the Kolety.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Traditional Easter Migration

Well we took part in one of the great Australian Easter traditions over the last week or so and went travelling along one of our great highways - in this case the Newell.

Menduran mural - black cockatoos flying south

It flows south along a river of black asphalt through the wide open plains of southern Queensland and the length of central New South Wales. We carried our orange and blue two person B-line kayak past grazing paddocks, cotton and wheat fields, silos on sidings, dry creek beds, service stations and motels all the way to Deniliquin in the Riverina.

Gurley silo siding

We managed to escape the sticky asphalt a couple of times on the way down so that we could have a paddle first of all on the Macquarie River at Dubbo with its willows and green weed lined gravel banks

Macquarie River at Devils Hole Reserve Dubbo Paddling on Yanco Creek between Narrandera & Jerilderie Yanco Creek River Red Gum

and then on to Yanco Creek near Gilgandra. The Yanco is full of snags and is lined by magnificent old River Red Gums.

Moonrise Good Friday

After a beautiful moonrise on Good Friday and another motel stop we finally made Deniliquin on Easter Saturday.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Wow what a week!

Hey, life is never dull as a storyteller.

In amongst the performances, project planning meetings and the dreaded tax book-keeping, I've just finished burning a DVD for a Digital Story about the 'Stories and Songs of Vulture Street' Project. I'm really pleased with how it looks on the TV and can't wait to get a copy to Getano who did the magic with the songs and music. He just worked so well with the members of our West End Community Storytelling Group. The lyrics for the songs just seemed to be magically created from our stories and he could then come up with a melody that fitted so well. Now sure, we were hardly Dianna Ross and the Supremes when it came to singing our songs but, what the hell, we had a really good time at the concert.

Stories and Songs of Vulture St Concert I've enjoyed getting out there on Vulture Street taking some more digital stills, putting them together with the video of the concert and some interviews and, of course, our songs, and putting them together on iMovie and then iDVD.

Now let me see, I've got a draft grant submission to write. I've got to do some preparation for some storytelling workshops for some Indigenous TAFE students down at Deniliquin in the Riverina during our Easter holidays. Type out a rough version of a couple of stories I improvised at a Family Day Care Centre this morning (before I forget them - I'm always looking for good Easter stories) and, oh yes, print some labels and covers for the new DVD.

Anyone want to be a storyteller's apprentice?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Hippity Hop - It's Easter Bilby !

I arrived at my second show today at one of my regular community kindy preschool centres at Carina, pulled up in the shade of a convenient street tree, wheeled in my folding trolley with my tin trunk prop box and drum and was pleasantly surprised to see the teacher, Sue, had put up a display about Bilbies, those wonderful long eared marsupials from Queensland's western desert country.

SpinHopMsBDoyleI couldn't resist doing a story about the Bilby in the show so I told the students about going out to Bedourie to the Arts Camp last year and the story that we created about Spinnifex Hopping Mice and you guessed it Bilbies. Brian Doyle created some great cartoons to accompany the story.

After my show, the Carina preschoolers went back to creating their Easter cards with Bilby cutouts. Brianna, who had stood up in the show and co-created and co-told a most wonderful little story with me, presented me with her card.

BriannaBilby 'Dear Daryll, I hope you have a lovely time at Easter - the best Easter ever! From Brianna.'

The spirit of Easter and of Bilbyship is definitely in the air.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The other side of a chain wire fence.

Another two show day today. Two of my wonderful regulars.

I got a bit of a surprise when I pulled up in front the first kindy though. The other side of the chain wire fence was a sandbagged army observation post with Diggers in full uniform and weapons at the ready. When I went inside the kindy, five of the children were dressed up in police uniforms and were playing at shooting me with finger guns.

They were a great bunch to perform to - lots of energy. I mentioned the army exercise to one of the staff afterwards and she said, "Yes five of the children's fathers are off to Iraq soon."

Why can't we struggle with stories instead of bombs and bullets?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Stories Alive on a Saturday Morning

Had the pleasure of running a storytelling workshop for the Lady Gowrie West Family Day Care conference this fine Saturday morning. On the way I drove past the gathering crowds for the St Patricks Day march. There was much wearing of the orange and green, and funny hats and I found myself wishing I was taking part in that celebration rather then going off to work.

The regret didn't last long however. Silly me, I should remember how much I actually enjoy running storytelling workshops. I enjoy the challenge of working out what the participants are actually looking for and trying to provide it. I enjoy the fact that most people who come to such a workshop actually want to be there and want to be better storytellers. I enjoy passing on some of the storytelling knowledge and techniques I've developed in my storytelling careers.

Family Day Care carers are special as well. In essence they are all small business people like me. They want to learn how to do their home based child care better. This Saturday morning's group were really flexible. They joined in the stories and added sound effects and clapping to the rhythm of the djembe and had some fun.

I ran out of time as per usual - an hour and a half is not very long time to pass on a lot. Oh well. It was heartening though to hear what the participants had considered they had learn't and were going to try in their own sessions.

I learnt a lesson as well. We had to hassle out of the room because a garden club wanted to start their meeting at the same time I was supposed to finish. As I was saying goodbye to my participants and answering questions and packing my gear, one of the Garden Club members said, "Oh that sounded interesting from outside. Do you have a card?"

Friday, March 11, 2005

Past Revisited CD Launch

Went to the launch of a storytelling and music CD on Thursday night in the Queensland Parliamentary Annex. It was a MECDA (Migrant Education and Cultural Development Association) bash and the CD is called 'Past Revisited' in words and music. It was satisfying from a number of different angles.

One was, I helped write the grant application that got the project underway. Second was that, one of the stories on the double CD was one that I had researched, written and performed with classical harpist Nicole Amies. It's about Captain Burke who migrated to Brisbane from Ireland in 1861 on the Erin-go-Braghe. It sounded pretty good on the CD although, I must admit, performing it is more exciting then listening to it.

Another reason for satisfaction was to hear stories valued up there with classical music and opera. To be honest I enjoyed the stories much more then the music but then, I'm a storyteller, what do you expect? The adaption of the sound track of 'Crouching Tiger'was particularly interesting though.

I enjoyed catching up with friends, Paula Gunton - the Coordinator of the Qld Storytelling Guild, Margaret and her sister, and meeting some new people as well. Stella Gibbs is also in on the CD. Her story is about a local community's response to the plight of African refugees. Sounds like she's doing some great work at the Ipswich library.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tone Turns 100

Originally uploaded by Austories.
Managed to make some final adjustments to the narration on my Digital Storytelling movie called 'Tone Turns 100' today. It still gives me a lot of satisfaction viewing it.

It's the story of my Great Uncle Tone who, yes you've guessed it, turned 100 last year. It was good to see him stand up and recite a poem and give a speech. More power to you Tone!

At 4 minutes 45 seconds it's a bit longer than most Digital Stories. It doesn't matter though, I had a lot to say about Tone and it all comes together really well. I've got a recording of Tone playing his accordian as background music at the beginning and the end, quite a few stills and a little video. It's most satisfying.

I'm currently making copies to send to interested family members and my next job will be to do a streaming version to put on my web site.

Digital Storytelling can be such a powerful medium. Although it requires some digital hardware and software it is relatively accessible especially for Apple Mac users. I'm looking forward to creating and facilitating lots of projects

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Clowning around

Wonderful storytelling workshop with Young Peoples Librarians on the Gold Coast today. What a buzz. I love seeing professional librarians stepping out of their comfort zones to develop new skills because they believe in the importance of storytelling and a creative culture in libraries.

As part of the workshop I did a demonstration performance in the library with some young children from a local Robina Child Care Centre.I started off with one of my 'Little Blue Train' stories, followed with my crazy version of 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'. The kids were rolling in the aisles. It's great to see.

I had promised them a third story and had not left enough time so I said to the audience, "Who's going to tell the third story." One boy put his hand up and I invited him out. He plopped down in the usual storyteller's chair and we created a story about a giant horse and a rider with a horse shaped hat on his head.

I realise how much my early clowning training still adds to my storytelling performance. It helps me say 'YES!' to story offerings from audience members. It helps me have fun within the storytelling format and to think on my feet.

I think it is time I ran some clowning workshops as well.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Magic storytelling ring and piggy gastronomics

Two show day today and one of the good things about it was that they were both in the same centre - a Creche and Kindergarten Association centre on Brisbane's inner northside. I really do like performing in C&K Centres. The staff are very professional and very human.

I always feel well supported as well. At one stage I 'caught my throat'. One of the staff noticed and immediately signaled another staff member to get me a glass of water. A nice big glass quickly and quietly arrived. Ahh relief.

Looking after my voice is one of my personal challenges as a storyteller. I enjoy going out on vocal edges and sometimes my throat pays for it. For example I was doing my crazy version of the Three Little Pigs for some preschoolers. My little pigs jumped into the bowl of pig breakfast food and were extremely messy and vocal in expressing their gastronomic piggyness. Somewhere in the middle of that improvisation it felt like the big bad wolf had gone for my throat and that there would be no sound left if I wasn't careful. I was immediately more careful. Actually I notice, I am getting better at providing good muscular support for my vocal athletics.

Had fun today with one of my favourite storytelling creations - 'Aidan and the Murray Cod'. I created the story with a group of kids in the Rochester Library near Echuca in Victoria. It's a great fishing tall story set in the local Campaspe River. It gives me a chance to introduce the kids to some of the local fish species including that dreadful pest species the European Carp.

I used to think when I first started telling stories to children that you couldn't tell 'tall stories' to preschool children. How wrong I was and today's telling of 'Aidan and the Murray Cod' certainly proved it. These four and five year olds were rolling around the floor and laughing their heads off. After the story, which includes a reference to a magic ring that pops out of a Carp's mouth, one of the boys said, "I'm wearing a ring."

Well I invited him out and we created a new story about a boy on holidays with his parents in the US. They found a magic ring in a woodpecker's tree hole and the fun went on from there.

It was a good two show day.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

rap movie and raga bliss

So ends a dramatic day. I finished off creating a short Digital Story with some rap music created by Dragonfly and lots of still images from around Brisbane. All went well until I transferred the movie to the iBook and then some digital catastrophe occurred with a couple of the images. Somehow it didn't matter however as the subject was utopias and dystopias and somehow or other it all went with the rap music anyway.

Finished off the night with an Indian meal at the Nepalese Kitchen in Brunswick Street in the Valley and concert with friends at the Judith Wright Centre for Contemorary Arts.