Sunday, August 17, 2008

A world of stories

I'm back to Brisbane and I feel both immersed and bereft of stories. I've just spent the week in Emerald telling stories to and creating stories with students in five different schools. It was both fun and hard work.

During the week I was both immersed in storytelling and its wonderful energy but also banging hard up against situations that, on reflection, demonstrated that so many people in our work and domestic cultures have no appreciation of the value of stories or even, I suspect, take a subconcious stand against either what stories represent or against any other stories apart from those that guide their own lives.

Now, on the weekend, recovering from the hard voice work of the week, I've looked for refuge in stories. Last night I watched TV but the stories were pretty unsatisfactory. Friday night on the ABC is 'crime night' and, yes, I could escape into a story, a different world, but it was a pretty ugly crime world in urban UK. I gave up on that. There was a bit of drama in the olympic weightlifting with one of the Chinese competitors achieving a world record lift and then being told it didn't count and he would have to do it again. Did he? Yes, the Chinese Atlas, did the lift again even better than the first time. I would have liked to hear his story.

The soccer match between Brazil and The Cameroons was a reasonably interesting story - not quite David and Goliath but a bit like that - but it got a bit repetitive. Finally Brazil got its act together and scored a goal and then a second. I'd turned it off before the second goal however, I'd lost interest in that story.

I retreated into a book. What did I read? - one of the Brother Cadfael medieval 'who-done-its'. A number of times as I read it I was reminded of one of the things I was trying to convey to students up at Emerald. Stories are made more interesting and more accessible if you put some detail into them. Detail the setting enough so that listeners or readers can take themselves there. Detail the characters enough so that listeners can either identify with the character or at least know how to behave around them.

Ellis Peters does this well. I find it easy to relax into that medieval world of friaries, villages, castles and cathedrals that she creates. The balance isn't quite right for me. I would like a little more action in amongst the world creation.

My other refuge is our back garden. I feel so blessed by the quality of the light in it at the moment. It's a little world of light and leaves, trees and birds and the occasional blue tongued lizard. I like the balance of wildness and order, dirt and concrete path, grass and pavers. I wonder what story or stories it suggests for me? I suspect its a strange mixture of wild beginnings of the human species, my playing in Queensland rainforest and bush as a child and more.

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