The Buried Moon

Posted: November 7th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

Earlier this year I was a part of Adverse Camber’s amazing GAZING season of online stories for lockdown. Here’s me telling “The Buried Moon.”


Taking the Devil to Zurich

Posted: October 9th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

In May of 2019, I had the pleasure of being part of the GESCHICHTENOASE – International Storytelling Festival in Switzerland. It was a beautiful festival, “an urban storytelling oasis”, taking place primarily in a flower filled glasshouse in The Old Botanical Garden.

Film-maker Thomas Radlwimmer was on hand to record things and he’s created this video featuring a story adapted from my show “Rebranding Beelzebub.” 

I do hope you enjoy it!

Hand Pulled History

Posted: February 27th, 2019 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

One of the most interesting projects of last year was a commission from The Walkley Historians to devise a show based around pub life in Walkley, Sheffield, during the Victorian period. My first thought was to bring on board the wondrous Roo Bramley to provide some music and song. Our grand endeavor culminated in three sell out shows last November in some of the few pubs that are still open, more than a century later.

Massive thanks to Frontier Media for capturing the event, to Bill Bevan for his organisation, to the various landlords who offered us space and hospitality, to the many listeners who crowded inside (and outside) the pubs to sign and celebrate with us, and especially to the Walkley Historians for their detailed and painstaking research.

And if you want to catch the show live, it should feature at the 2019 Walkley Festival.

The Room Behind the Bookcase ~ Episode 6 ~ Out of the Silence

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Podcast | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

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In this podcast I interview Simon Heywood about the stories of World War 1 conscientious objectors and his show Out of The Silence.

The intro music was from Hymir’s Maidens used you as a trough by Prometheus Project. Outro music was sung by Shonaleigh.

The Room Behind the Bookcase ~ Episode 5 ~ The Four Chambers of the Heart

Posted: March 31st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Podcast | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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This podcast features Clare Murphy and was recorded by Tom Donegan of The Story Museum.

The intro music was from Hymir’s Maidens used you as a trough by Prometheus Project. The outro music taken from Death Jig by Sharron Kraus.

The Room Behind the Bookcase – Making it your own

Posted: February 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Podcast | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments »

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Want to make a traditional story your own when you tell it? We ask Nell Phoenix how. Show notes in the comments.

Storytelling for Researchers

Posted: October 13th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

It’s been a month and a half since I got back from Edinburgh and I’ve been pretty busy. The list of gigs is mostly up to date for the rest of 2014, check those out. There’ll be pictures from a photo shoot, roleplay games and even podcasts coming up soon so do check back.

I’ve been working with researchers and Phd. students from The University of Sheffield. We’ve been exploring how storytelling can be a powerful tool for engaging the public outside of academia. It’s a topic I’m really interested in and I’ll probably write more about it soon. Until then, we filmed a few of the participants and I thought I’d share. Here’s Rachel Askew talking about some cows.

Storycast – The Thieves’ Daughter

Posted: April 15th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Podcast | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

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The intro music was from Hymir’s Maidens used you as a trough by Prometheus Project. The outro music taken from Death Jig by Sharron Kraus.

All Things Girl Interview – Exciting Edinburgh News

Posted: March 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

By some weird coincidence of gender and timing, I was the January “Man of the Moment” for All Things Girl. Melissa A. Bartell took the time for a lengthy interview and you can read it in full here. I talk about storytelling, my ministry and life stuff in some detail. Here’s an example of one question from it:

MAB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? What advice would you like to pass on to others?

TR: I don’t really hold much with advice. There’s a story about a Rabbi that was famed for his wisdom and insightfulness. He kept two scraps of paper, one in each of his pockets, and his pupils had often seen him consulting them but nobody knew what they said. These pieces of paper were of enormous interest amongst his pupils, and each had a theory about what might be on them.

One day, finally, the pupils could stand it no longer and asked the Rabbi what lessons were so great that he carried them with him all the time. He showed them. On one piece of paper was written: “For me, the whole Universe was created.” On the other: “I am not even a speck of dust before the eye of God.”

The pupils were confused because these writings seemed utterly contradictory and so after some discussion they asked their teacher which, if either, was really true and which held the greater wisdom.

“They’re both completely true.” The Rabbi said. “But no human understanding is perfect, so each can only be good for one pocket.”

That’s how I feel about advice, I guess. That at best, it’s good for one pocket. But I did learn a really important lesson in 2012 when I caught the noro-virus and was as ill as I have ever been. So if I have to give you a single piece of advice from 2012 it would be: “Don’t get gastroenteritis.” (I think your readers probably call it a GI infection.) If I had to give you a single piece of advice from 2013, it would be “If you get the chance, go and see Venice.” We’ve just had our honeymoon there, and it was magical.

One life lesson a year. I think I can about cope with that.

~ ~ ~

EXCITING EDINBURGH FRINGE NEWS! I will telling my show of Urban Devil stories, Rebranding Beelzebub at The Banshee Labyrinth during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August this year. Big shout out to the PHB Free Fringe, without whom this wouldn’t be happening. It’s going to be amazing! Follow the show on twitter by looking for #DevilTM and I’ll keep you updated here with developments. If you’re in Edinburgh for the festival then let me know. It will be my first time at the festival and it would be great to meet up and support one another.

The Drama Instructor

Posted: May 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , | 1 Comment »

There’s a story I’ve heard about a drama instructor. He was berating his students one day for failing to grasp the most basic points of theatre.

“You!” He said to one of his students. “Walk onto that stage, say ‘Look at that moon!’ and point upwards.”

And the student did. And when she had finished, the instructor asked the class what they had seen. They mumbled, and eventually offered up that they had seen their peer walk onto the stage, point and look upwards, and recite her line.

“Exactly!” barked the teacher, before rounding on another student. “Now you, same exercise.”

Again the walk, the point. Again the class had to describe what they’d seen. Again they described the walk, the point. What more was there to say? One after another the instructor had them all carry out the task. For a while, the answers became wonderfully detailed, addressing every step the actors had taken, the height of the point, the tone and inflection of the words spoken. But every time, the teacher seemed disappointed at the performance, and the students were puzzled as to what they were missing.

“Very well.” The teacher said, getting up off his chair and approaching the stage. “I’ll do it. Then you tell me what you see.”

He got up onto the stage. He walked until he was a little off centre. Then he pointed upwards. “Look at that moon!” he said.

But when he asked them afterwards what they saw, the students didn’t mention any of that. They had had one singular experience, one that made sense of the whole exercise.

“We saw the moon.” They said.

~ ~ ~

Storytelling and theatre are different animals, though related both by virtue of being narrative arts, of being spoken performance arts, because they can sometimes take place in the same spaces, and because they draw on similar theoretical models. I’ll probably be writing a blog post about the difference between digesis and mimesis at some point soon, because I think they’re really useful concepts and that we should be using them in our discussions.

But I love the story of the drama instructor, and I think it has some really interesting parallels within storytelling performance. Storytelling consists of at least four things. There must be a listener, there must be a teller, there must be a story, and there must be a telling. I separate out the telling and the story, the ‘telling’ is the particular performance that takes place between listener and teller, whereas the ‘story’ is the underlying narrative of which the telling is one specific rendition. All these four elements relate to one another in ways that we will be exploring more on this blog in the future, but for now I want to get to the crux of the drama instructor’s lesson, and in so doing echo the wise words of Sally Pomme Clayton. As tellers we normally want to “become invisible.” That’s not to say that the audience can’t see us, the students watching their drama instructor could certainly see him. That’s to say that what we do during the telling should support our purpose of conveying the story to the listeners.

The story doesn’t take place on the stage, that’s where the performance happens. The story doesn’t even take place in the space between teller and listener, as is so often argued. The story takes place between the listener’s ears, in their heads, and telling the story well means making artistic decisions that are mindful of the listener’s experience. That should be our first concern.

Or at least, that’s the model I’ll be working on here.