Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Back in Bris, Little Tots and the Single Story

Back in Brisbane after corporate storytelling trip to Perth. It was a bit quick and I didn't manage to catch up with Perth storytellers. (Sorry about that WA storytellers.)

The session with Honda Australia salespeople and managers at the Burswood Entertainment Complex went well. It was good working with a local jazz band, John Bannister and The Charisma Brothers, as well. One thing I like about these corporate awards nights is the smiles on peoples faces as they are acknowledged for their hard work.

Really enjoyed our visit to the Art Gallery of WA. The Warholl to Picasso exhibition is definitely worth it and the general gallery collection is quite special. Good to see some old favourites again like Lin Onus's 'Maralinga'.

In my corporate storytelling presentation to Honda, I've been making the assertion that, 'If you want to oppress a culture one of the easiest ways to do it is to stop the people from telling their stories and especially stop them from telling their stories in their language.'

So today I was pleased to hear that idea expanded on in a Ted talk by ‪Chimamanda Adichie: 'The danger of a single story.'‬  She won me over very quickly with 'I'm a storyteller and I'd like to tell you a few personal stories about ...'  In her talk Chmamanda argues very eloquently about the effect of our tendency to simplify our perceptions of peoples and culture into - 'single stories'.

She says, among many other things, - 'Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person but to make it the definitive story of that person.'

She finishes her talk with:

'When we reject the single story, when we realise that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.'

I like that.

Told three different stories to some Little Tots children at Stretton today. So many different faces and cultures, all hungry for fun and stories. We had both but I do see that it is easy to slip into one type of story.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Weaving corporates, festivals and dramatic boys.

Last weekend was great hobnobbing with storytellers from around Australia and overseas at the NSW storytelling guild's 'Weaving Stories Together' Conference in Sydney.

I can't decide if the highlight was listening to Dianne Ferlatte the keynote speaker and featured storyteller from the USA or the energy of the primary school boys who won the children's storytelling competition. Then again I did really enjoy the workshop by Graham Ross called 'Enriching the Perspective and Power of Historical Storytelling' and the 'Improvised Storytelling' workshop by Lillian Rodrigues Pang. Jenni Cargill Strong's workshop on bullying was really informative as well.

I've also been enjoying the corporate storytelling I've been doing with Honda Australia. An adult corporate audience is so different from a school or a community audience. There is so much content wrapped around the stories I've been presenting them. It is a buzz to do that walk on stage with the spotlight and the musicians providing backup. So if you walk into a Honda salesroom in the next 6 months and get told a story or two by the salesperson, you'll know why.

Kalinga Park playground, image with thanks by Graeme Lanham (Panoramio)

 A funny thing happened on Tuesday - World Environment Day. I was doing some performances for the Brisbane City Council Catchment Coordinators under a marquee beside Kedron Brook - lovely setting. My audiences were Catchment Kids - primary school children from different schools involved in the junior catchment protection programs. They were short shows, just 30 minutes which usually meant telling one story and improvising a second one with the audience about the catchment. At the end of the last show, I invited the audience to do a little drumming each on my African djembe.

I noticed one boy, probably in about Year 6 or so, stepping up quite excitedly. He was obviously planning how we would play the drum in a different way as I saw him clench his fists ready to punch it. I said, "No not with your fists please."

I saw him unclench is fists and I thought 'that's good,' but I wasn't ready for what he did next.

He head butted the drum, twice! and unfortunately split the skin, duh! Needless to say I wasn't very happy.

Still that drum and that goat skin has had a lot of use in the 10 years or so since I bought it. I dropped it in a Eumundi Drums yesterday for a new skin and for the time being I'm djembe-less. I'm experiencing some withdrawal symptoms, oh well.

Still being without the drum will spur me into experimenting with some new story support activities such as my green ukulele.

I've already improvised a new story that starts with the song 'This Old Man' it's pretty simple chords and lots of opportunities to branch out into different stories.

Today I was at Augusta State School out by Redbank Plains and had fun with the students there. I'll be back there tomorrow to do another three shows looking forward to telling and creating some more stories with them.