"Become aware what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it." - Meister Eckhart

03 July 2014

Whose stories do you miss?


Geschichtenerzählerin ("The Storyteller")
by Karl Joseph Brodtmann (1787-1862)
Living here in Scotland, I've come to appreciate how storytelling is such a rich part of the cultural fabric here. The travellers, in particular, have nourished the storytelling tradition over generations.

Growing up in Canada, I never thought of myself being part of such a "storytelling" family or culture. I grew up on stories "told" through television and books.

Yet recently, I've become more acutely aware of the stories told in my own family, particularly by grandparents, aunts and uncles. In fact, now that both my parents have passed on, I find myself not only missing them, but missing their stories. No matter how old I got, I never tired of listening to my Mom tell the story of my birth or stories of my childhood. I miss my Dad's stories of the Depression and growing up through the War. And I miss the jokes, anecdotes and funny stories shared by my grandparents, aunts and uncles at family parties. Most of all, I miss being able to call my Mom or Dad and asking them about the past, about things that happened, about relations that I can't recall but know that they would know. I miss their stories, their memories.

I'd be interested in your thoughts and reflections on your storied past. Whose stories do you miss?
Leave your comments below.

01 July 2014

The Teller and the Tale with guest storyteller Calum Lykan

This week, the Teller and the Tale presents Edinburgh storyteller Calum Lykan. Calum is one of Scotland's up-and-coming young storytellers; he's also a highly sought-after tour guide who knows his way around the narrow closes and wynds of Edinburgh's Old Town as well as the stories that haunt these secret places.

Recently, Calum has teamed up with artist Chris Rutterford to stage a 2-week performance in the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Entitled "An Audience with Bannockburn", Calum and Chris transformed the Storytelling Centre into their private fiefdom, resplendent with period costume, banners, and a battle re-enactment video installation. The public has also been invited to have their portraits included within a huge mural depicting the Scottish troops.


3 Questions for the Storyteller Calum Lykan

1. Who or what called you to storytelling?
Although I’m relatively new to telling I still sometimes struggle to remember what brought me to this path and started me on the journey. I drifted for many years without focus or even an idea of what I wanted from life. Then one day I was put on a stage to deliver a historical talk (absolutely terrifying) but afterwards I realised I was still in one piece and the world hadn't ended and actually I rather enjoyed the experience. So I sought out other avenues to perform which brought me to Tour Guiding. Telling gruesome and grisly tales of old Edinburgh was my first telling experience and I saw how the stories captivated and entranced the audience, it was like casting a spell.

From this I started to attend courses and performances of Storytellers and my love for the tell began. Couple this with some of the most wonderful storytellers who were more than happy to help a young pup out with advice and kind words of encouragement. To them I will be eternally grateful as without the support I may never have continued.

2. What was the last story you performed or told?
I love to tell traditional Scottish Folk and Fairy tales but recently I have experimented with one or two of my own invention. So the last tale I told was about the Great Kilt which I wear and how it can sometimes get you in to trouble or just plain cause you embarrassment.

3. Who's your favourite storyteller?
Difficult question which could cause me to become a pariah in Edinburgh. So I’ll answer honestly. I do not have a favourite. My favourite storyteller whose tales I use most often is the late great Duncan Williamson. However active tellers that I love listening to as each delivers a tale so differently and uniquely are David Campbell for his use of language which is exquisite and the emotion of his delivery, yourself Michael Williams for the tone and delivery of a tale as it just settles the audience in to a wonderful evening, Donald Smith if your lucky to hear him, passionate and humorous with a laugh that can shake walls and Gerry Durkin for the energy, humour and sheer joy he brings to stories.

Don't miss my conversation with Calum Lykan on the Teller and the Tale, beginning Sunday morning June 29th at 7am EST (Canada/US) and 12 noon BST (UK/Ireland), only on Blues and Roots Radio (www.bluesandrootsradio.com).

The show will be repeated on Tuesday July 1st at 8pm EST (Canada/US) and 1am BST (UK/Ireland) and again on Thursday July 3rd at 4pm EST (Canada/US) and 9pm BST (UK/Ireland).

Remember, if you miss the show you can catch up at the end of the week at http://tellerandthetale.blogspot.co.uk/  where you can listen again to past programmes.


Testimonials

"We have received only very positive reports of your workshop, and must thank you for being so flexible and responsive both before and in the course of implementing the workshop. It has been lovely to work with you. . . . We are hopeful this project will give rise to future storytelling endeavours, and would be very happy to work with you again if the opportunity arises!" Muireann Crowley, At Home in Scotland, University of Edinburgh, May 2014 ("Storytelling, Research and Public Engagement" workshop)

Michael Williams is a a storyteller of compelling skill. He is also a fine human being who engages in all situations and draws people into the warmth of communication and shared experience." Donald Smith, Director, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh Scotland

"Michael's understanding of storytelling within a leadership and business context has helped us provide a great service in helping leaders determine their personal and organisational destiny and legacy. Working with Michael is inspiring and fun; and pulls you to be fully engaged from start to finish." Norton Bertram-Smith, Managing Director and Leadership Consultant for On Purpose.

Kamink: the little boy who grew into a giant of a man

Blues and Roots Radio

Blues and Roots Radio
Check out my weekly storytelling radio show, The Teller and the Tale on bluesandrootsradio.com.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland
I'm grateful to Creative Scotland for its support.