There is a story by Gogol, which appears in his collection Evenings on a Farm near Dykanka , Christmas Eve, which gave Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov the plot for operas – Tchaikovsky’s first effort was called Vakula the Smith and he revised it as Cherevichki [The Little Slippers] while Rimsky-Korsakov’s is simply called Christmas Eve. At the centre of the plot is the demand by beautiful Oksana that Vakula bring her … Continue reading How Stories Grow…
Last night, at Heads and Tales Story Club, I was the Patcher between other people’s stories of Arthur, having to do Conception, Sword in the Stone etc. in as short as time as possible… and I invented, on the spot, the fairy-dust that Merlin sprinkles on Uther Pendragon’s face, so that whoever looks at him sees what they want to see – Merlin takes care … Continue reading How Stories Grow
I was telling The Clever Girl the other week – the story that begins as proverbial interpretations of qualities [what is the fastest, the sweetest, the richest thing in the world?] and endorses imagination over literalness. Then it goes on to be a wit-contest between the young magistrate and the even younger girl, including the need for her to appear neither naked nor clothed, a requirement familiar … Continue reading How Stories Grow
I am telling stories all day on February 1st in Newbury: two sessions with Primary School Pupils, one with adults who are free in the afternoon, one with older children in the early evening, and a two-hour show of Russian traditional stories and Stalin anecdotes, called In a State of Terror. I’ll tell you what I did after I’ve done it. The venue sent me an … Continue reading My contribution to National Storytelling Week 2017
Yesterday, looking for new stories, I was browsing in Ralston’s Russian Fairy Tales and came across a story about the rivalry between the prophet Elijah [venerated under the name of Ilya in Russia] and Saint Nicholas. I learnt from Ralston’s own notes that Elijah had responsibility for what came down from the skies: thunder, lightning, hail, weather in general – indeed, in Old Novgorod there were two … Continue reading How stories grow…
STORY CLUBS in Hampshire and Wiltshire Southampton Story Club 1st Thursday in the month 8pm-10pm The Art House, 178 Above Bar, Southampton, SO14 7DW https://www.facebook.com/groups/southamptonstories/?fref=ts Sarum Story Club 2nd Tuesday in the month 8pm-10pm The Wyndham Arms, 27 Estcourt Road, Salisbury, SP1 3AS https://www.facebook.com/groups/sarumstoryclub/?fref=ts Wykeham Tales 2nd Wednesday in the month 8pm-10pm The Hyde Tavern, 57 Hyde Street, Winchester, SO23 7DY https://www.facebook.com/WykehamTales/?fref=ts Heads and Tales … Continue reading Where can you hear stories told?
The theme was The Devil in the Detail, so I thought I would tell the Grimm story Bärenhäuter (Bearskin), but I also wanted to make it mine. It seemed to me that having to stay dirty for seven years would be more of a challenge for a man who liked to be neat and clean, so the ordinary soldier became an officer, who put on his last dash of … Continue reading How do I make it mine?
People will know the story about the man who sees Death in the marketplace, and sees Death looking at him in a meaningful way. Thinking to avoid Death, the man flees, takes horse, rides furiously to a distant city – the distance and the city vary in different versions – where, the day after his arrival, the man again encounters Death. Since it is, as … Continue reading Where does that story come from?
I first heard this story told by Suzanne Houston at Heads and Tales Story Café in Ringwood three years ago. She had come across it in Doctors on afternoon television, where it provided the framework for a sad story of Afghani refugees. [You can watch it here.] There are various versions on the net, e.g. this one, but when I tell it I’m afraid I emphasise … Continue reading Silver on the Hearth
So – is it poverty of imagination? Or the ability to see the fairytale world in reality? Sleeping Beauty, too, has a real-life, semi-overgrown castle as her model in Ubbelohde’s world. But then the Grimm stories DO take place in sleepy old Germany… and the interiors in Schmidhammer are just as real… Continue reading Rapunzel’s Tower – not IRL!