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.