As a professional storyteller/theatre artist, my work focuses on the ancient craft of oral storytelling and the exploration of traditional stories, myths, legends and folklore from around the world and especially Ireland, the land of my ancestors.
For over 20 years I have been involved in the making, excavating, shaping and presenting stories for theatre and public events. My work has taken me into a broad range of communities, corporations and educational settings. I have performed for audiences of varying sizes, from over 3000 to intimate garden parties.
In a few short weeks, I will again have the luxury of telling stories at a House Concert.
This time my hosts will be Di and Stuart from Countrywide Cottages, Bambra. They have been very busy letting the local community know that I will be heading down from the Big Smoke to tell a yarn or two. From all I have heard from Di, it sounds like I will be made very welcome by some generous country hospitality.
Telling stories at a House Concert is very intimate and makes me think of days gone by, before television and the internet, when people often gathered in pubs, or homes, around a fire to hear a story. For the audience, the cosy comfort of being in someone’s home adds to the magic unfolding, by giving them a relaxing environment to let go of the wider world and tune in to the world of the stories. For me, as a storyteller, it feels very personal and immediate to be able to see the face of each listener and to ask direct questions or simply engage them with a raised eyebrow. Everything is magnified in such close quarters. Something large and full of energy seems even larger, but at the same time the smallest, subtlest thing can be gently shared and still clearly seen.
This particular concert is a fund-raiser for my upcoming trip to tell stories in Ireland. So, the program will be bursting with ancient tales from Ireland, woven together with stories of my own Irish ancestors.
Having done several House Concerts now, I’m very much looking forward to this one! Do get in contact if you are interested in hosting one yourself.
Image: Niki na Meadhra telling stories with Clare Coburn, at Enchanted Evening, in the Bishop’s Parlour at Abbotsford Convent. Photo c. Charlie Sublet.
When I drew this picture of Little Red Riding Hood digesting the wolf, I really enjoyed turning the traditional story upside down! It felt rebellious and cathartic. It is important to me that this is an ordinary girl, not a ‘warrior-woman’ type that seems increasingly popular.
Depending on what day of the week it is, the wolf symbolizes many different things for me. Some days it would feel sacrilegious to devour such a potent archetype. Some days I want to light a candle and pay homage to the wolf. It depends on which version of the tale you read and how you read it. The dark archetypes, which sometimes seem to only destroy, also serve us.
On this occasion, eating the wolf felt like an action of consciously digesting fear – beginning the process of breaking it down with the acids in my belly and thereby becoming bigger than it. I always consider fear an ally – when it knows its place. Like fire, fear is a good servant, but a poor boss.
Planning my journey to Ireland has raised all kinds of fear for me. It is a bold adventure that requires courage. It is good to have got to a place where I am digesting this and feeling bigger than my fear. Of course, tomorrow is a new day and I don’t expect that every day I will feel on top of it. But today – I feel bold and brave and the wolf makes a good lunch!
It’s 40 days now until I fly to Ireland – and I couldn’t be more excited!
I’ve been invited to tell stories, in Kerry, at Sneem Storytelling Festival, and will also be performing in Cork and Waterford.
My last visit to Ireland, in 2008, had a powerful impact on me as a person, an artist and especially as a storyteller. It was my first time in the land of my Irish ancestors and I totally fell in love with the place and its people. As I traveled I collected many tales and came home with a swag of myths and legends to look up and research in more depth. The mysterious and powerful crone, Cailleach Bheara, who I was introduced to in the small town of Eyeries, in West Cork, has been the central figure of much of my storytelling and art making ever since. Many audiences here in Melbourne have enjoyed her stories. On this trip I will be doing a course investigating her further, led by Dr. Sharon Blackie, in a circle of creative women who are just as fascinated with her tradition as I am.
Last time, it seemed some of the Good Folk, or perhaps a Guardian Angel, led me around the country-side creating all kinds of adventures and introducing me to an array of wonderful people. I could not tell you how many times I thought I was lost, but was helped all long by friendly people wherever I went.
I do hope the Good Folk will come along this time – a little faerie magic offers protection and ensures the craic will be very, very good!