Hare Today Story club, Thursday, 13th October,7.45-10 pm in The Snug,The Lunar Hare, Weyhill Road,AndoverAdmission Free
Come and listen, come and tell
Run by Mike Rogers
Story, story! Who wants to hear a story? Everyone, of course.
“Once upon a time…”
“Come on! That’s just for kids!”
“All right – last Tuesday – ”
“… in a galaxy far, far away…”
Stories are stories, they pick us up and they take us away, sometimes into other worlds, sometimes inside ourselves, to places we’ve never been or didn’t know were there. They bring us face to face with new things and with old things, and often the old things turn out to be new things, because we’re looking at them from another side.
Reading is good. You can do it anywhere, anytime, if there’s enough light to see. It disturbs no one. But it is a solitary vice.
Listening to a story, on the other hand, is something social. There is an interaction with the teller – they notice the reaction of you, the listener, and they can adjust their story to it. Actors on a stage, in a normal play, would find that much harder. They usually have a text to stick to. A storyteller only has a story – and they can tell it in the way they feel like at that very moment. What occurs to them – what occurs to you – it can all find a place in that story.
I have been telling stories for fourteen years. I have been writing stories since I was eight, and when I first came to Southampton Story Club I used to read aloud the stories I had written. I had written them to sound as though they were being told, so they had digressions and interruptions and spaces for audience reaction. Sometimes I still like to perform my stories that way, because a written story can be a lot more precise and complicated and detailed than a told one – it’s the relationship between lace and knitting. But mostly I tell.
What do I tell? Stories I like. Stories that go into me easily, because they fit my nature. I tell Greek myths. I tell Norse myths. I tell wonder-tales from Russia, with the Firebird in them. I tell stories from Japan, sad ones and happy ones. I tell classic folktales from Europe, as written by Perrault or collected by the Brothers Grimm. [I can tell stories in French and German as well.] I tell Jewish stories. I tell stories from Afghanistan and stories from the Arabian Nights.
I also tell stories that are true, if they have the right shape and feel. I have told the story of the first maypole in New England, at Merrymount, and the trouble it caused among the devout New Englanders. I have told the story of George Vancouver and his conflict with Thomas Pitt, second Baron Camelford, and compared it with the behaviour of Maquinna, the chief of one of the tribes on Nootka Sound, which Vancouver explored and mapped. I have told the story of ‘Don Patricio’, the Irish international footballer and football manager, who saved Barcelona FC in the Spanish Civil War. I have told the story of Grayson Perry’s tapestry sequence, The Vanity of Small Differences.
There are stories everywhere. We make them up all the time. We change them and they change us. They are one of the ways in which we try to come to terms with the world.
I am always telling the same stories, and I am always hunting for new ones, and I am always thinking about how I can tell the old ones differently. I can also help people to tell stories – stories about themselves, about their lives up to now, about the way they would like their lives to be in the future. Imagination is the key to freedom – in the inner world and in the outer one.