Stories By Firelight A Roaring Success!
On the evening of Thursday, 23rd October, at Halsway Manor, a magnificent tudor manorhouse, forty children from Crowcombe and Stogumber Primary Schools treated friends and family to an incredible series of stories by firelight. This term they have been engaged “Storywalks”, an amazing project which has involved them taking carefully planned walks across different habitats on the Quantocks, learning of the folklore and wildlife of the hills.
The stories ranged from the terrifying “Black Dog of the Wild Woods”, to the enchanting “Lords and Ladies of Dowsborough Hill”. Clare Viner, storyteller, shared these stories with the children in-situ, and Rebekah West, Quantock Ranger, enhanced the learning with amazing facts about the trees, fungi and animals of the area.
The children then took the “bones” of their favourite stories and practised and embellished them, learning the skills of oral storytelling. These were the tales told to parents by the flames of Halsway Manor’s huge, ancient fires.
The stories were recorded for Wiveliscombe 10 Radio by members of the schools’ journalism club. These recordings, along with interviews and comments collected by the young journalists will form the basis for a one hour radio show to be broadcast in the New Year. Summer Scriven, one of the journalists, said, “ I'm really excited; lots of people will hear the stories we are telling.”
Storytelling is very different to acting because there are no lines to learn. The children had to flesh out the “bones” of their stories, playing with the descriptive language with every telling. No story is ever the same twice, which creates a great energy and excitement (and challenge!) in both the teller and the audience. Ashley Foster, 9, explained, “I enjoyed telling my story to an audience because I want to learn about stories and it's fun.” Thomas Humphries, also 9, added, "I thought I was going to get really nervous but when I started to talk I became more and more confident."
All the children performed superbly, showing great courage and confidence, especially considering that some were as young as 7 years old.
The next stage of the schools’ Storywalks project is to write these stories down and then “write” them on the hills, using Chris Jelley's amazing GPS internet program that will enable the public to go on Storywalks of their own! Watch this space!