To celebrate our 25th anniversary of storytelling at Bleddfa #bleddfastory25 we have invited three storytellers who have trained at Bleddfa to work with us as featured tellers. First up is Cindylou Turner-Taylor
Whilst teaching in special schools for children with social, emotional and
behavioural difficulties, I discovered early on that the most disruptive and
disturbed children LOVED to be told stories. As soon as I ditched the book and
started just telling, they became calm, relaxed and totally held.
It’s this ‘holding’ that fascinates me. The simple act of telling a story, whether professionally with enhanced performance techniques or socially, is magic to me. The connection between the listeners and the tellers becomes palpable. Our hearts beat as one. The modern world is increasingly aware, through the findings of neurological science that our brain works most efficiently through narrative. Something our ancestors knew but we had forgotten for centuries.
I have stood, countless times, in front of groups of people and travelled with
them through joys and sorrows, across unknown lands and into the heart of human experience. It is such a privilege to tell stories, a privilege and a
responsibility. Stories carry such power, they can bring so much comfort to those in pain, teach us how to survive and even enable us to face unthinkable fears.
Stories often don’t come easy for me, there’s graft involved. Like stalactites the narrative drips through my understanding, slowly over time eventually forming itself into a tellable form. I draw, make, read, walk, dance, dream and most of all share what bits of the story are tangible as it gestates. Hard, focused work is required to find the awkward bits, the sharp edges that detract from the story, and remove them.
Repeatedly I have taken half formed, immature bunch of story snippets to a small, Welsh village. Here, hugged by the walls of an ancient Bleddfa barn and held skillfully by Michael Harvey, Hazel Bradley and Pauline Down, I have struggled with those seemingly disparate fragments. Every single time something beautiful and magical emerges. At Bleddfa I have worked with participants with years of experience and those who have never told a story before and therein lays its strength, a fresh and open way of working. Performance techniques don’t get in the way of the story – the story becomes the entire focus, and hey presto every time it’s safely delivered.
The heart of my current Genesis set was crafted here, a tale of women’s sexual awakening over 5000 years and Every time I say Goodbye, a Cinderella tale based on my grandfather’s life also took wings within the Bleddfa Barn. Whispering Warriors, a set of stories that I began touring in January 2016, also took shape in Bleddfa.