Picnics and Stories - what's not to love?
You know how some things just go together perfectly? Like a scone needs jam and cream (or cream and jam), a cuppa tea is too wet without a chocolate biscuit, toast tastes better with marmite (controversial I know). Picnics are much tastier when accompanied by stories!
So, to celebrate National Picnic Month, I found myself touring the libraries of Waltham Forest telling tales, enjoying picnics and meeting some wonderful people. The libraries are inspiring, all different, some old, some new, some small, some big but they all had welcoming, friendly staff, wonderful audiences and beautiful spaces for children to enjoy stories.
Thank you Waltham Forest for having me and I look forward to seeing you again soon - subtle hint to watch this space........
Stories, books and an amazing charity
For World Book Week I was lucky enough to work with a wonderful charity, Acorn Book Club at a wonderful school, on behalf of London Dreamtime, wonderful storytellers. I appreciate that’s a lot of wonderfuls so let me tell you more……
Oh, the morning we had! On the Wednesday of World Book Week I met Jo Chandler from Acorn Book Club at Coopers Lane Primary School SE21. I told tales of cheeky monkeys, giant carrots and Goldilocks to Year 1 and 2, won over year 6 with stories of wishes going badly wrong and a very tough Princess and rounded the morning off with Year 3 and 5 sharing stories of a very clever beetle and Little Red Riding Hood being rather brave. The children loved it and it was great to be back in school.
We were there to celebrate World Book Week, all things story and that Acorn Book Club had donated over 1,000 books to the school for their library. Paul Hooper, the Headteacher, gave us a tour of their new library space. The builders were in, bright bookshelves, furniture and a rather interesting Baba Yaga style house were being built. But you could already see the amazing space the library will be and imagine the worlds it will open up for the children through books and stories.
Here's a bit more World Book Week news from Acorn Book Club https://www.instagram.com/reel/CazfXiRA9H-/?utm_medium=copy_link
And finally here’s what they thought
"Hannah, you were completely wonderful, the children were captivated!"
Jo Chandler Acorn Book Club
"The children absolutely loved Hannah, the World Book Day Storyteller and the incredible book donation will help to promote a love of reading for years to come.”
Paul Hooper - Head Teacher
Coopers Lane Primary School
Stories in my Back Room
We’ve gone hybrid!
Stories in my Back Room are a series of storytelling evenings featuring some of my favourite storytellers. It's a win:win situation because I get to collaborate with some amazing storytellers and the audience get to hear the wonderful tales we develop together. There'll be a small local audience (IRL) whilst the wonderful online audiences, who have kept us going through lockdown, can tune in as well.
Our first night in November saw Pyn Stockman tell her story of The Bee Charmer, a wonderful tale that is a spin off from her project Tell it to the Bees. Our stories grew together as my Tales of Sheep Thieves and Stone Soup and Pyn's Bee Charmer shared wonderful images of finding somewhere to call home. For December, Wendy Shearer and Hannah Brialsford joined me for some Wintry Tales which took us all over the world. We found warmth and gifts in amongst the chill of Winter in what was a cosy evening by the fire.
We kicked off 2022 with Sarah Lloyd Winder and yours truly telling The Wild Hunt. Sarah painted wonderful images in our minds of a very special evening where women came together and Sarah and I shared these women's stories. This is definitely the start of something and it'll be intersting to see how the story develops, changes and grows. Exciting stuff!
Plans are afoot for more evenings and I'm very much looking forward to being joined by Emily Hanna-Grazebrook and other wonderful tellers throughout 2022.
Online Audience feedback: ‘It felt very intimate and special, like when you watch the Proms on TV, you look at the audience and feel you are part of the event.’
‘Any stories’ was definitely a very special night of storytelling which, via the wonders of the internet, brought together friends, family and an audience from all over the World. I’d like to say a huge thank you to The World Storytelling Café for their support and for hosting the event which was part of Wandsworth Arts Fringe.
It’s my fifth year performing as part of Wandsworth Arts Fringe and I’ve seen it go from strength to strength including adapting very successfully to get through the last 2 years. This year's Fringe saw a wonderfully wide range of shows, exhibitions and events, live, online and hybrid. The shows definitely did go on!
‘Any stories’ came about when my lockdown brain was struggling to plan ahead for anything, let alone develop a new solo storytelling show. Luckily I had the idea to tell any stories that popped into my head. On the night, the stories were a mixture of stories new to me and a few old favourites which evolved and changed as new themes and ideas were added. The show was more political than I’d expected but I guess given the year we’ve all had, perhaps not that surprising.
The good news is the show is available to watch anytime, just click here and scroll down the page.
The Green Meet at Fulham Palace
It was my first storytelling event outside, with a real live audience, after a very long wait in Lockdown and I found myself hidden away in The Bishops Wood at Fulham Palace telling stories. What an absolute treat!
In the run up to the event I was lucky enough to have a personal tour of the gardens with one of Fulham Palace's wonderful volunteers. She easily shared so much history, knowledge and anecdotes about Fulham Palace that stories started to pop into my head. The majestic 500 year old oak tree was just like an oak tree in a story I tell. The tree in my story provides a palce to escape to, where you can gather your thoughts. The fruit trees in blossom in the walled garden reminded me of stories where apple trees have hidden magic. So many more thoughts and ideas were inspired by those wonderful gardens.
And so, on a rather chilly May Bank Holiday, telling stories in the woods, I realised I'd definitey found my little bit of countryside in the midst of the city.
Dragon Fly Tales Podcasts
It has been quite a year but some great things have come out of Lockdown and here's another one. Dragon Fly Tales launched their story podcasts just over a year ago. Every few week Emily Hannah Grazebrook and Leo share a story, shout out to their listeners and also invite along a guest stoyteller. Their stories have taken us on advetures all over the world at a time when we can only dream about travelling. The podcast has grown steadily and now has an audience of over 13,000 listeners from around the world.
I've been lucky enough to join them sharing a story new to me, based on a story called Dirty Earth about a very silly King and a wonderful wise old woman. I loved telling this story, so pertinent and really good fun. So if you fancy stories of donkeys and dirty earth click here!
There are 17 episodes to choose from, so far and more to come so why not tune in and enjoy!
MAYhem and Mischief
Oh what a night! We had MAYhem and Mischief by the bucket load. Be it a strangely attractive mouse with a rather stinky, cheesy tail, a look at loosh morales somewhere in the South of England (names have been witheld to prevert any libel action) a clever woman winning over a king with her intellect. And that was only the first half. We then had a touch of nakedness, in the story I hasten to add, not the storytellers and rounded off the evening with a rather rotund, greedy monster of a child.
MAYhem and Mischief indded!
A huge thank you to a wonderful rather cheeky bunch of stoytellers......Emily Hanna-Grazebrook, Alastair Daniel, Hannah Brailsford and Lucy Lil.
Perhaps I overuse this phrase, but it was bloody brilliant!
The World Storytelling Cafe has just celebarated its first anniversay and what a year it has been! Described as 'a truly international project which was born in Marrakech, Morocco' this wonderful platform, hosted by John Rowe, soon became the virtual place for storytellers and audiences from around the world to meet and share stories.
I'm very lucky to have joined this wonderful community as one of their storytellers. So early one Friday evening in March I found myself telling stories for children. I quickly realised some of the children were a little long in the tooth i.e. grown up, but they were definitely young at heart. I told some favourite tales, where we pondered what we might wish for should we ever be lucky enough to catch a magic fish. Would we be brave or perhaps silly enough to kiss a frog? We even sent rabbit and tortoise off for a race, can you guess who won? I thoroughly enjoyed it as did the audience by all accounts. Click here to watch the stories.
I'm very excited that I'll be back with World Storytelling Cafe on Wednesday 30th June with my new show 'Any stories', details to follow,
Please do check out The World Storytelling Cafe, Whilst the last year has been a bit up and down, to say the least ,this wonderful community of storytellers and story lovers is definitley one of the ups!
Bedtime Stories in collaboration with Under One Sky
Under One Sky, a charity based in South London, who work with refugee and asylum seeking children, commissioned me to record 10 audio bedtime stories. This turned out to be a bit trickier than it sounds; the children’s ages range from 5 – 11 years old, English isn’t their first language and they have experienced trauma. It’s hard to imagine what these children have been through. So, I needed to think carefully about the stories, some of my usual favourites just wouldn’t work, The Three Little Pigs having their houses blown away by the Big Bad Wolf, The Gingerbreadman being chased and then eaten just weren’t appropriate. So familiar stories were reworked with changes in settings, characters and events. Then the hunt for new stories began, which is always exciting.
I’m pleased to say I thoroughly enjoyed putting together these stories and learnt a lot in the process.
This project is also very close to my heart. I have personal experience of PTSD. What should be a quiet time before going to sleep is interrupted by thoughts you’ve blocked out all day. Listening to stories has helped me a lot. You see, stories are magical, they can provide comfort, take you on adventures and enable you to escape into other worlds.
These bedtime stories will give the children space to escape to new places, imagine all sorts of wonderful things and be children, experiences at the heart of the work of this charity.
If you’d like to check out the stories click here.
Gits, Goddesses and Giants
8pm, Wednesday 24th March
What started with me trying to read a mesage on my phone about a wonderful book called 'Girls, Goddeses and Giants' (it's a great book by the way). But in the blur of my eyesight I read it as 'Gits, Goddeses and Giants' and thought what a great name for a show. And what a great night it was.
Wendy Shearer, Hannah Brailsford, Olivia Armstrong, James Canvin and yours truelly treated everyone to a night of tales of lazy gits, great godesses and even a real life giant.
Thank you to everyone who joined us. Lets do it again soon!
Tales of Wild Women
I was really rather chuffed to be invited back by Spinning Yarns Theatre to be part of this amazing group of bold women. Wendy Shearer, Suzanne Arnold, Emily Grazebrook, Pyn Stockman and I joined forces for an absolutoey brilliant night of storytelling. In my tale, based on the story of the Prince and the Dressmaker, two friends painted Paris red, challenged judgements about gender and race and together found the courage to follow their dreams.
Thank you to Hannah Brailsford for organising another wonderful evening.
Wintery Tales Tuesday November 24th
What a wonderful night of Wintery Tales.
The stories started in the midst of a cruel Russian Winter as a brave girl tackled the North Wind, we moved onto a pastor’s wife flying on an unusual broomstick, then a stormy walk home from an inn where a tavelling tree was found. After the interval, the wisdom of knowing youth is lost on the young backfired spectacularly and finally we ended the evening with a tale to spread a little kindness. It was a treat of an evening.
Huge thank you to Sarah Lloyd Winder, Pyn Stockman, Hannah Brailsford and Wendy Shearer for your stories and to our lovely audience.
4/5 star review Sadie Takes The Stage
‘Tonight was magical’
‘Great gig guys!’
I've had great fun building this website, here are a few photos I found along the way........