Friday, October 29, 2010

October Storytelling

I've had a wonderfully varied but quite busy month of storytelling this month.

One of the highlights were the training workshops I was asked to run for PSCQ Workforce Council in Townsville, Ingham, Charters Towers and Ayr. Got to meet lots of early childhood workers from 'the Capital of North Queensland' and surrounding towns.

This week I've been telling in Logan City libraries as part of Children's Week. Had some very young audiences for a pleasant change. One of the highlights though was a mixed age special needs group that came to the library from a local state school. No one had told me that I was getting a special needs class and it took me a little while to work it out. The pleasure though was the unreserved, enthusiastic way in which they enjoyed the stories. This is when storytelling works best. When an audience suspends disbelief and provides lots of feedback about what they are enjoying then the storytelling can really create lots of fun and pleasure.

Another little pleasant surprise at one of the libraries was the young (around 3 yrs old) boy who turned up carrying two dolls. One was Woody from Toy Story and the other was ....... Barbie. He took great pleasure in showing me that if you pressed Barbie gemstone brooch it and her similarly gem encrusted high heels started flashing. Pretty cool I thought. I told him that my favourite Barbie was Monster Truck Driving Barbie.

Had coffee down at Black Star with Rosalyn, a recent migrant from Liberia and Sierra Leone, yesterday afternoon. She wants to tell traditional African stories to Prep audiences. I suggested that she gets a number of stories together that might work and myself and some Storytelling Guild people can give her some feedback. I'm looking forward to seeing how she goes.

Today is the last kindy day before Halloween and, not surprisingly, I was asked to tell some scary stories. I must admit I'm a bit negative about the commercialisation and Americanisation of All Hallows Eve. I'm also a bit concerned about just how scary, scary stories should be for 4 yr olds.

I ended up compromising. I told Jack and the Bean Stalk and I told 'The Old Woman in the Pumpkin' from India. There were two Indian children in the audience and the boy, of Tamil background, was really enjoying it.

I'm never sure how to end Jack and the Bean Stalk however. I know that the main reason children enjoy it is that the hero is a young person and that he overcomes a scary, old giant by being brave and fast and quick witted but really he does dispatch that old giant in a rather gruesome way. I do believe in means and ends and I'm not sure I want to be encouraging any young person to be stealing 'hens that lay golden eggs'.

I wonder if the giant can chase Jack until he comes across the strange old man who gave him the magic beans in the first place? Could be good to bring him back into the story.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Storytellers' Names

Had the pleasure of performing at two Sunshine Coast C&K prepreps today - Kawana Waters and Buderim.

I love the pre-prepers at this time of year. They're just as excited but they are so intelligent.

At Kawana I told 'Rosie and the Whale' (one of my stories), 'Captain Parrot' (an improv. on my basic Captain Hook story) and 'The Very Clever Turtle' (an adaption of a folk tale from Ghana). At Buderim I told - 'Mary Had a Little Lamb (one of my stories based on the nursery ryhme),'The Baby Tyrannosaurus Rex' and an audience directed improv called 'Barbie and the Frog Prince'.

One of the children asked where I got my stories from and, when I said, 'Books, Grandparents and other storytellers' wanted to know the names of some of my storyteller friends. I obliged of course an even mentioned some of my Facebook storyteller friends. I had expected that some of them might have heard of Facebook but none had.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Enchanted Forest Stories

One of the projects I really enjoyed was the Enchanted Forest Playground story creation project at Ashgrove Primary School. The stories we created were recorded and incorporated into the Brisbane City Council playground in Dorrington Park. You can go to the playground and listen to the stories.

I've continued to tell some of those stories and create new Enchanted Forest stories with a whole range of students around the state. They usually get a really excited response especially from preprep and prep students.

Here's feedback from a C&K kinder on the northside:

'Thanks heaps Daryll. The storytelling continued outside. We are going on a group excursion in the next few weeks to the Enchanted Forest, so we can improvise some more. See you next time ...'

I love when the storytelling and creation continues like this.

You can visit the park as well if you're in Brisbane.

View Enchanted Forest Playground in a larger map

Here's a link on playground finder.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Forest Jigsaw, Media Massage and Goomeri Podcasts

Back home after couple of days performing and creating and publishing stories with students at Goomeri State School and I've been wondering why completing a 750 piece jigsaw puzzle called Stout Wood has given me so much pleasure.

Nice to complete things - yes; it's a pleasant photo - yes; but really I think it's about seeing a photo of such a rich forest after having driven through so much cleared farming land between Goomeri and Brisbane.

So much of that upper Brisbane Valley is cleared grazing country or is struggling regrowth. Sure there's some forest around Blackbutt, Nanango etc but from the main road you don't see much.

Good to see there are some rail bike trails being setup. Must get up there on some. Stopped at the market in park at Kilkoy and ran into two separate friends around the coffee van.

Went into a St Vinnies in Kingaroy and, as I usually do, had a scrounge around the 2nd hand books. Right in front of the children's book section, strangely enough, was a book I couldn't resist. It was only 30 cents as well. It was that oft quoted product of the late 60's 'The Medium is the Massage' by Marshall McLuhan and Qentin Fiore. What a blast from the past. Not so past though, it keeps on being quoted 43 years later.

I looked for one of my favourite photos in it - the one with the traditional African storyteller putting on a scary face for his village audience. Still like it. Speaks of the tradition of storytelling so well. The caption reads : 'The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.'

It was interesting watching what grabbed the interest of the primary and highschool students in the Goomeri 'village'. Listening to stories did; helping to create stories about students in their place did; telling stories about their experiences did. Recording and editing the podcasts was interesting for them as well. They enjoyed seeing their stories published online on 'The Learning Place' blog and podcast lounges.

One of the media that was not exciting for the highschool audiences however was my suggestion that we do a digital radio production - Radio Goomeri. I was a little puzzled until one of the teachers reminded me that they don't listen to much radio. Their massage comes from iTunes playlists.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Kookaburra - feathered laugher

I've always liked Kookaburras. What Australian doesn't?

I think I remember reading about them in David Fleay's book on Australian animals when I was a child and definitely loved reading research about their communal nature and things like why they trapeze fly.

It's not surprising that one of the stories in my storytelling repertoire is one I created with prep students about a kookaburra and a rather 'muddle headed' but heroic wombat.

We used to have kookaburras visit us at home. They would sit on the clothes line under the mango tree and laugh and look for worms and bugs in the compost. There are too many construction sites around us now and although we still hear the occaisional one in the distance they don't come visiting like the butcher birds, magpies and rainbow lokikeets.

Still they always sound like home.

Create your own video slideshow at

And here's the poem that inspired that video on - you can move it around and zoom to see it.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Question of Balance

Caught the bus over to the Royal Brisbane Hospital to visit my mum today. She was gardening and took a step back rather then forward, tripped on a rock and landed with a hip crunching force on the concrete drive.

Watching and listening to the parallel dramas of the public hospital ward has really brought this question of balance up in my conciousness this week. Things like - use this painkiller and you will be able to handle the essential physio treatment but it might cause some nausea. Well something has certainly caused a fair bit of nausea for my Mum.

Still, despite the superbug in the ward and the shortage of moniters etc, she is getting really good treatment by the staff and I've learnt a very neat way of taking off the disposable apron and folding it into each of the disposable gloves before consigning them all to the bin, thanks to watching a wardsman.

I got off the bus at the Roma Street busway on the way home and walked across the Kurilpa Bridge and took in the Asia Pacific Triennial again. Watched a video that Suse Wolf recommended. She said it really made her glad that we lived in such a wonderful country as Australia so I was curious. I had to agree really. It was a commentary on the ugliness of the rapid industrial development in the three dams area balanced with the beauty and colour of the pots of flowers the two men were carrying. I hope our Lord Mayor got to see it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Great Brisbane Bike Ride

Well done Bicycle Queensland for organising yet another Bike Week and the many cycle events on today. I managed the 45km Great Brisbane Bike ride - yey!

We descended down, down into the Clem7 version of subterranean hell and ascended somewhat more slowly into the fresh on the other side.

What a pleasant change it was to be riding without cars and trucks thundering everywhere. There was just the whirring of bike chains, puffing of riders, the clicking up and down the gears and the pleasant warnings of passing speedsters 'passing right'.

Riding with my friends Bill and Isabelle, I remembered the sort of riding I used to do with my sister and cousins as kids - up to Jolley's Lookout and down the goat track to Highvale and back in through Samford. That was a longish day adventure. No one seemed to mind. Must have been a different universe. Today was too in a way, a bicycle universe.

Bit funny though, I collected my t-shirt and stuff at the Southbank finish line and road home, and, would you believe it, coming up that last hill to our place, my leg muscles finally said, 'Enough!' and they all decided to cramp at once. Took a bit of stretching to persuade them that I wasn't going to ride any more k's, at least not today.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stories about Digital Stories

Got invited this week by Dr Christina Spurgeon to drop along as guest lecturer to her Digital Stories course at QUT Creative Industries.

I really enjoyed telling students stories about the Digital Stories I've either created or helped create in the various community digital storytelling projects I've organised, co-ordinated and facilitated. Digital Stories are one of the wonders of the digital age. If done well, they help keep the old traditional storytelling skills alive in a low cost digital production way. We had some interesting debates about what was 'Digital Story' and what was 'documentary' or 'interview'.

It's great to interact with students discovering the way in which creating a digital story about one of one's own important stories can be so transforming. Hearing their draft scripts was a real gift.

It will be interesting to see how the Digital Story develops in this digital age. The relatively low cost software like MovieMaker and iMovie and hardware like laptops and digital cameras will keep changing and digital stories will change with them for better or worse.

In the meantime, if you would like to see some Queensland digital stories, you can go to YouTube and do a search for 'queensland storylines' (without the apostrophes). There are even some there that I did. Look out for 'Lucas Papaw Ointment' or 'Growing up with the Princess', for example.