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Posts tagged ‘Storytelling’

Out of Africa

an Axatse (rattle from Ghana)

Image via Wikipedia

I was born in the midlands, England ( ahem) years ago. When I was ten my parents decided to emigrate to South Africa so I packed my teddy and prepared  to see lions.

I never really did see lions, except in a Zoo. My childish ideas of Africa were born in the mythology of the childhood Jungle where the Lion is the king. I didn’t expect the bright lights and heaven forbid, fish and chip shops! Cape Town and the beautiful Table Mountain became my home for over a decade.

I lived at the very tip of Africa for eleven years, and soaked up the sun and the culture and vibrancy until I decided it was time to return to my roots. I didn’t regret my African experience, far from it, Africa fired my loins and gave me my love for bright colours and a deep passion for African music ( and an awakening of my political awareness as I was dropped into Apartheid South Africa which shook me to my very core).

Today in my job as a children’s entertainer and storyteller, I told African stories at a South East London school. It was lovely to be able to bring a piece of my African memory and passion to such lovely children. They lapped up the stories of the trickster Spider Anansi, and were enthralled at my clumsy rendition of Nyame the Sky God,

My vision of Nyame the Sky God, in papier mache

as I hid behind my paper mache mask. They chuckled at the burping Lion and the silly witch called 5 and we explored yams and beautiful African fabric.

The box of stories and the sticky doll

I spoke about the web of stories that Anansi has spun around the globe, reaching far and wide from their origins in Ghana , travelling across the Caribbean and over to North America and all over Africa and we ended the stories by jumping on an imaginary bed with Jaffa, my monkey.

The cast and crew from the Anansi Spider tales

It was a delightful day at work.

The last time I told Anansi stories at a school in Brixton, upon showing the children the Sky God mask and the magic box of stories, one boy declared that he was going to call the police as I had stolen stuff from the museum. Bless him. I had to get him up to the front so he could see that the mask and box were just made of cardboard. 🙂

Storyteller Diane of Diane's Puppets tells Anansi Stories

Just a regular day at the office NOT!

Space mouse is ready to blast off

Oh how I love my work. I’ve just got back from the most inspirational day of storytelling at the very well respected children’s theatre Chicken Shed.

I was booked to do an early years Storytelling performance for this fantastic theatre company through a mutual acting friend.

I was so excited, I mean SO excited. I’ve always known about Chicken Shed and the fabulous work that they do and had admired them from afar, now was my chance to become part of them, if only for a day!

So Fifi the Baby Fairy and I set off with Space Mouse and headed off to Cockfosters, all the way to the end of the Piccadilly line. Took ages to get there, luckily the weather was fine so we didn’t have to worry about the ten minute walk from the station, even though I did get just a few stares from the Southgate locals.

My stage was prepared with gorgeous glittery curtains and a sweet sofa covered with astroturf and cherry blossom. It was a chair surely fit for a fairies bottom. I felt very privileged to sit on it.

I was to do two half hour story telling sessions and my first session got off to a cracking start, blowing bubbles and putting the audience at ease.

Fifi the fairy worked her feisty, cheeky magic and soon had the boys and girls wrapped around her little finger. She brought giggles galore before settling down on her fairy sofa for a bedtime story.  She had chosen the theme of stars, moons, a mouse and a cow. Space Mouse fitted the bill perfectly. So before I knew it, the stage manager was whispering to me that the second session was about to come in. So Space Mouse came to a hasty conclusion and Fifi was found to be fast asleep.

I got lovely feedback from the audience and a few little children requested a photo with me on the fairy sofa. I felt like a popstar!

The second session started and finished in a blink of an eye. They say time flies when you’re having fun, my goodness it went at warp speed! I then packed up and went to watch the main performance on the main stage with the full audience.

It was a rare privilege indeed to be able to join in with the Chicken Shed experience. I love how inclusive their ethos is , celebrating every child and young person no matter what their physical or mental challenges may be. The thing that pulled everyone together was just having fun. I certainly had fun and judging from the great big grins on everyone’s faces, I think fun was the order of the day.

Sigh. I love my job.


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