Storytelling At The Brewery: Q&A with Martin Maudsley
Storytelling At The Brewery brings powerful storytelling for adults to Southville, taking listeners on a journey of the imagination. We had a chat with the wonderful Martin Maudsley of Bristol Storytelling Festival to find out a little more about it.
What makes a good story?
A good story can either keep you on the edge of your seat or let you sink back into your chair as it transports you to another world. Good storytelling takes listeners on a journey of the imagination, where the story images take shape in their own heads. The experience of listening to live storytelling can be entertaining, emotional and often profound – it touches the heart and engages the mind.
Have you got a favourite story or storyteller?
One of my favourite stories is Wayland the Smith - a Norse epic of love, loss and revenge where a hunter meets a swan maiden… I also love the Grimms’ Tales and myself and Saikat Ahamed (of Cinderella fame) unravelled some deep, dark stories from the Brothers Grimm at the Brewery Theatre last December. Hugh Lupton has long been a favourite storyteller of mine, and an inspiration for my own journey into storytelling. More locally, Rebecca Smart is a Bristol-based storyteller who always twinkles as she tells a story, visibly relishing in the imagery of her stories, she was last at the Brwery in November with Baba Yaga’s Oven.
How long have you been involved with Storytelling At The Brewery and what have been your highlights?
We started Storytelling at the Brewery (formerly under the title ‘Storytelling Sundays’) during the Bristol Storytelling Festival in February 2011. The wonderful Michael Harvey from Cardiff kicked things off with an interweaving of several Breton tales; stories of fatherhood that he performed with his son playing electric bass. The night sold out in advance, and helped create a reputation for great performance storytelling in Bristol, which were building on for the future. Another personal highlight was Run Jack Run where two storytellers, Milly Jackdaw and Peter Stevenson told two separate stories about hares that slowly wound together; the storytelling was enhanced by both live music and projected visuals – spellbindingly beautiful!
Why the Brewery Theatre? Is there something about that space that suits storytelling?
In some ways, storytelling is a simple art form and its magic stems from the way a story unfolds in the moment of its telling; in the space between the listeners’ ears. It’s a very intimate experience, which creates a strong sense of connection between the performers and the audience. The Brewery is the perfect size and space for this - very subtly holding the storytelling without any overly dramatic distractions. It’s important for us to try to promote the awareness of storytelling as an art-form in Bristol, and we’re really pleased that the Brewery attracts a mixed crowd of both storytelling aficionados and those who are experiencing it for the first time.
Live music is often a feature of the Storytelling performances. Why do you think this is?
Yes, we often have live music as part of Storytelling at the Brewery, and I think it helps to allow space for the audience to create and absorb the strong images that often make up the stories. At its best, live music can also be part of the narrative, taking the story forward at a deep, emotional level without the need for direct language. Our audiences often comment that the weaving together of music and words is a highlight of their enjoyment of Storytelling at the Brewery performances.
We have three events left in this Storytelling season. What can our audience look forward to?
This Sunday, which is also the finale for the 2013 Storytelling Festival, we’re delighted that Katy Cawkwell and Sarah Llewellyn-Jones are performing their new piece, Kingdom of the Heart, at the Brewery, drawing freely on Czech wonder tales and music by Bach and Britten. In March, dynamic storyteller Josian Fazou brings some creole colour to Bristol with a mix of traditional and original stories from his native Mauritius. Then in April Bath based duo Richard Selby and musician Bethany Porter (cello, ukulele and voice) present a modern retelling of an ancient Celtic fairytale. They have recently played to sold out audiences at both the Bath International Music Festival and the Bath Folk Festival.
The next Storytelling At The Brewery is this Sunday! Catch The Kingdom of the Heart on Sunday 03 February at 7.45pm. Later in the season we have Tales From Mauritius on Sunday 10 March and finally The Mouth Of The Night on Sunday 07 April at 7.45pm.
Find out more about Bristol Storytelling Festival here at www.bristolstoryfest.co.uk