Web Festival: Mind and Body Storytelling Workout

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Project overview

This bid was for a series of three ‘mind and body’ storytelling workouts, leading up to and including an event in the East Staffs Web Storytelling Festival 2008. The sessions were advertised as open to all staff in the library service as well as publicised more widely to school teachers and professionals who could use storytelling in their work. The sessions aimed to develop and strengthen the physical and mental skills required to confidently tell stories, either as part of people’s work or for their personal interest. The session aims were to build personal confidence and to explore use of gesture, body language, breathing and vocal techniques, as well as memory, language and imagination, to develop stories to tell, which were based on traditional tales from around the world.

The project was developed through the partnership working of the Library Service’s District manager and the Borough Council’s Storytelling Development worker.The events were advertised as part of the 2008 Web Storytelling Festival, a two week celebration of storytelling for all ages.

The project took place at Burton and Uttoxeter Libraries with storytellers Peter Chand (telling stories to young children), Christine McMahon (telling stories with teenagers), and Shonaleigh (walking through a story). The latter two had not previously worked with Libraries in the area.

Key aims and objectives

Through this project the following aims were met:

Qualitative results

Arts East Staffs issued feedback forms to all participants. They were asked to rank their agreement/disagreement with key statements. The responses for the Peter Chand workshop were 100% positive. Responses for Christine McMahon and Shonaleigh were also highly positive, but a few people commented on particular aspects which they found less useful to their work. “Great Session” “Great inspiration! Lots of food for thought. Now have a few ideas and hopefully a bit more confidence to try storytelling.” “Congratulations – fab!” “Would like more courses to give further advice”. “Funny, entertaining and informative. The time flew by. It was excellent” “Absolutely fantastic session! Peter is so enthusiastic and makes you feel the same about storytelling. I felt comfortable during the session and encouraged to try new things – thank you”. “The pace was perfect. More of this please! Absolutely excellent – thank you!” “Thank you”. “Really enjoyed the session. Peter was excellent. Best story session I have ever attended”.

Links to the National Year of Reading

Mind and Body: The workshop sessions focussed on both imaginative (mind) and physical (body) skills required when telling stories – from use of descriptive language and painting pictures for the audience to gesture and breathing skills. Telling stories, adult to adult, adult to child or child to adult, and listening to stories promotes a sense of positive personal health and well being. The link between storytelling as an oral form and the act of reading, retrieving people’s stories which are similar or different to your own, were threaded through all of the sessions and reinforced for both the library staff and teachers involved.

Contact details

Kevin Reynolds (District Manager) kevin.reynolds@staffordshire.gov.uk

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