Australia’s National Storytelling Festival in Perth
Sept 29 – Oct 2, 2005
This year’s festival promised to be a full four days of storytelling, story
circles, new ideas and international meetings. And it was!
I was delighted to be invited to be part of the program, telling a ghost
story for the “Witches Cauldron” evening show, and presenting a workshop,
“Storytelling for Interpreters and Educators”. I was also delighted to have
the surprise of sharing a dorm room with two lovely tellers from Adelaide,
Sue and Mary Barbara, as well as the keynote Storyteller, Pemela Ateka from
Kenya. One morning, we all gathered in our crowded room and giggled as we
practiced “shaking butt” and letting our whole body dance the African way.
Us Anglos can definitely do with some loosening up! Oh the joys of cross
Its amazing how quickly a group of storytellers begin to talk, to connect,
to create a spontaneous community of passionate, creative thinkers and
healers. This festival was the best example of this kind of community that
I’ve ever seen. Mabel Kaplan, the Festival Director, showed exceptional
vision in her program planning which wove together so many different threads
of storytelling, so many diverse stories and so many storytellers. What I
loved most was the way that this festival integrated storytelling across art
forms including mime, dance, music, writing and visual arts. There is great
freedom and fluidity in creating places and spaces where stories can be
expressed and celebrated in many ways.
At some time in the first day of the festival, I felt myself transcending
the reality of being at Point Walter Conference Centre, looking over the
serpentine Swan River, to travel to many corners of the globe – to Scotland,
to Canada, to Singapore, to Africa. My travelling storytelling soul took
flight with the words and stories of our international crew. It was time to
talk story and to hear how stories are travelling in many hearts and
communities around the world, how stories in these times, are truly taking
us all to the edge – the edge of new realities, emerging possibilities,
spoken dreams and unspoken tales waiting to be told. Yeah, this was exciting
stuff for me. Every minute of the day was like an energized atom, growing
and bursting with the possibility of creative connections.
I came to the festival with alot of questions and reflections about
storytelling, based on my own very busy and diverse year of being a
community storyteller on the south coast. After days in Storyland, I left
the festival feeling connected to storytellers all around the world. We are
all being guided on our own storytelling journeys, finding meeting points
and refuelling stops with other storytellers along the way.
Oh the pages I could write about inspiring workshops and enthralling
performances but I must admit, my most vivid memory of all is the Friday
night party in the mess hall. A warm, wonderful and very very funny night of
sweet wine singing, wild world dancing, laughter and stories. Yeah, life is
good when you’re in the company of fine storytellers.
Holding the vision of this festival strong in my heart, I look forward to
the next festival which will be in Victoria in 2007 Until then, may we all
continue to find and to keep the points of connection, the threads of story,
the weaving of our lives, alive and well.
Anna is the south coast representative for the Australian Storytelling Guild
Her professional storytelling experience spans twenty years in both
Australia and the U.S.A. Anna loves to hear from other storytellers and has
an open home for anyone who’s travelling down her way.