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

23 May 2014

Teller and the Tale with former animator, philosopher and storyteller Roger Way

Animator and storyteller Roger Way
Roger grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in Canada's capital city Ottawa. Blessed with some artistic talent, he left school and fell in with Ottawa's local film community. Later he moved to Montreal where he got involved with the National Film Board and such artists as Bill Mason and Blake James.

During the mid-60s Roger moved to London, England where he landed a job as an assistant animator with the director Richard Williams. Roger worked on such films as Williams' neglected classic "The Thief and the Cobbler" and Robert Zemekis' "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". I caught up with him at the Ramnee Hotel in Forres, Scotland.

Roger loves to share stories of those days and to philosophise about life. He now makes his home in the north of Scotland where he's an elder of the Findhorn Community. I'm proud to call him a friend.

Catch the show on Blues and Roots Radio on Sunday May 25th at 7am EST (Canada/US) and 12noon BST (UK/Ireland) and again on Tuesday May 27th at 8pm EST and 1am (Wed) BST and once more on Thursday at 4pm EST and 9pm BST. After that you can come back to my blog at michaelwilliamsstoryteller.blogspot.co.uk and listen again to the show.

(This programme was first broadcast at the end of August 2013.)

17 May 2014

Teller and the Tale with guest storyteller Daru McAleece

Storyteller Daru McAleece
(photo credit Graeme Nisbet)
The Teller and the Tale with Daru McAleece
Daru McAleece is a Druid storyteller, performer and visual artist with a strong love of Nature, science-fiction and Celtic mythology. Although he was born and raised in Edinburgh, Daru has strong ancestral links with the Scottish Borders where he now lives. He currently works as a Forest Schools practitioner and is the founder of the Bardic Grove storytelling project.

When we last caught up with Daru, we posed a few questions put forward by our listeners --

• Who or what called you to storytelling?
My background is as an artist and designer, and my interest in storytelling began when my love of my love of narrative and image fused together in graphic novels by artists and writers such as Bill Sienkiewicz, Alan Moore, Dave McKean, Steve Bissette and Neil Gaiman. I actually got drawn towards becoming a storyteller through discovering the path of Druidry. This began with me going out to explore and learn more about my local landscape, especially learning more about the kind of trees present there. This experience culminated in my attending a Druid camp where I found a very supportive community, and took the leap to perform my first story in an evening session in a yurt, and was so inspired by the experience I have been telling stories ever since.

• What was the last story you performed or told?
The last story I told was based on a personal story in my life. Recently my partner's mother Maureen passed away and I was asked to share her story and celebration of her life by the family at her service. Out of this I recently performed the story of experiencing her passing and the road trip into Wales, the amazing (and even at times funny) journey of her family and meeting the West Wales community, characters and landscape as we created her service. The story woven also touched on memory, stories we tell and the nature of storytelling itself, and is one of my deepest experiences of creating a performed tale out of personal experience.

• Who's your favourite storyteller?
I am going to go non-traditional here and say Eddie Izzard. I find his butterfly mind quite wonderful and magical, as well as adoring his use of voice and characterisation. I saw him way, way back before he was a stand-up during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a street performer - where I remember him in the middle of a slightly odd (and failing) escapology act where he threatened to cut the head off a teddy. Something about his style of verbal delivery hit the right note for me though and it was great to see him then make the leap to stage stand-up. Actually I don't see him as a comic at all, but someone who weaves together massive, rambling stories out of the odd and bizarre, pop culture, history, film the small moments of life - all peppered with sharp observation, albeit from a different angle.

Listen to my conversation with Daru, starting on Sunday 18th May at 7am EST (Canada/US) / 12noon BST (UK/Ireland) and again on Tuesday 20th May at 8pm EST (Canada/US) / 1am BST (UK/Ireland) and Thursday 4pm EST (Canada/US) / 9pm BST (Canada/US).

Blues and Roots Radio for the best in story and music from the independent artist.

02 May 2014

The Teller and the Tale with guest storyteller Allison Galbraith

Storyteller Allison Galbraith
Born in England to Scottish parents, Allison now lives in Lanark, south of Glasgow. [She also has Canadian connections -- her great, great grandfather Hugh Campbell emigrated in the 1920s settling in my hometown of Hamilton Ontario. His sister later married into the Emslie family, so if there are any Emslies reading this or listening to the show next week, get in touch.]

Allison started storytelling back in the 1980s when she started telling stories to Travellers' children in the Midlands. Since then, she's taken her passion for storytelling all over the UK. She has a wide repertoire of stories and accents with which to tell them. She loves nature stories and revels in tales of the faery folk from the Celtic tradition.

Learn more about Allison and her stories, beginning next week (beginning May 4th, 2014) on the Teller and the Tale on Blues and Roots Radio (www.bluesandrootsradio.com). Sunday at 12noon BST (UK/Ireland), Wednesday at 1am BST (UK/Ireland) and Thursday at 9pm BST (UK/Ireland). Check Blues and Roots Radio for times in your area.

Listeners of The Teller and the Tale asked 3 questions of our storytellers. Read on for Alison's answers.

1. What called you to storytelling?

In my first proper job - a part-time, community librarian - I used to entertain the local travelers' children, by reading them stories in the dinky one-room library. It was a very sad, rough depressed part of Wolverhampton, and these kids used to abscond from school and come into the library to see me. People were generally awful to these kids, they suffered from a lot of prejudice, and I've always had a huge instinct to support and love the underdog, no matter what, animal or human! So reading stories in the library was my first attempt to tell a story as part of a job.

When I moved to Glasgow in 1988, I was lucky enough to meet, befriend and share several flats with an American woman named Kate Kramer MacDonald. Kate had come to Glasgow as a musician and storyteller, and she opened my eyes to the world of story as an art form in its own right. Kate herself, had learned from a First Nations woman from the Ojibwa tribe in Minnesota, where Kate lived for some time in her own Ti-pi. Inspired by Kate I went on to tell stories for Glasgow libraries in the early 90s. I then spent a fantastic weekend learning to tell with the Conyach (travelers word for heart/soul), with a famous Scottish traveler and singer, called Sheila Stewart, at her home in the Highlands. At last I had learned to put the books down and tell the story, ''Eye to eye, heart to heart, mind to mind' (traveler saying).

Through the various transitions in my career, storytelling has always been present, as a performer, theatre director, dancer, drama lecturer, and finally - now - quite plain and simply as a freelance professional storyteller and workshop leader.

2. What was the last story you told?

I have been telling Spring stories outdoors (yes, outdoors in Scotland in March!) for the last four days. The last story was to a about forty toddlers, wee children and their parents, and is called, 'Two Birds in a Beard' I learned this from a CD by Mary Medlicott, a lovely Welsh storyteller. Its a very funny tale about why birds build their nests in trees and not beards - I always have some fun with anyone in the audience sporting a beard with this one.

3. Who's your favourite storyteller?

My favourite storyteller is probably Hugh Lupton, although I still have thousands more tellers to hear before I can really make my mind up for sure. I adored Duncan Williamson, while he was still alive and telling.

Thank you, Alison!


"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.