Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stories & Songs by the Fire. Newport Folk Festival 6 July 2013

Niki na Meadhra and Stories & Songs by the Fire.

Storytellers, poets and musicians are invited to join around a crackling fire with one of Melbourne's favourite storytellers. There'll be candles to light the room and spicy chai to warm the heart and loosen the tongue. Bring words to share and ears to listen. All welcome but remember this is a storytelling evening for adults.
Niki na Meadhra is the imagination behind the Enchanted Evening, a monthly night of traditional tales held in the Bishop's Parlour at Abbotsford Convent.
Stories by the Fire is hosted by Storytelling Australia Victoria (Kate Lawrence and Jackie Kerin) and No Worries Curries (chai).

Newport Scout Hall, Saturday 06:00 pm - 08:00 pm
Entry: Wristband or pay at door

Details about the Newport Festival HERE
Enchanted Evenings (the fourth Sunday of the month) HERE

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cock and Bull: Autobiographical storytelling nights in Melbourne

Six years ago Willow Tales was established in Northcote; an event where people were invited to tell short autobiographical stories to a theme. The popularity of this kind of storytelling has grown and grown. 

Jon Bennet and Cathy Culliver now manage three events under the umbrella title of COCK AND BULL: 
Cock and Bull  (Fitzroy)
Bazaar Tales (City) 
Felix Tales (St Kilda) 

As well as the live storytelling nights, Cathy and Jon have gone into podcasting with "The Cock and Bull". 

Cathy, what inspired these nights of story?
It all began about 6 years ago with Willow Tales, which was originally called Northcote Storytellers. Local poet Dan Lee wanted to recreate the days when people would sit around the house telling stories to each other around a fire. The format began as being like a grandfather telling stories to his grandkids; there was a lounge chair on stage with the only lighting being a small lamp attached to the chair. The storyteller would sit in the chair, turn on the lamp and the story would begin.

Jon Bennett was one of the inaugural performers to get involved, having recently started to include more storytelling in his comedy routine. He eventually took over the running of what we now know as Willow Tales, and it's all grown from there.

What must a storyteller do if they wish to tell a story at any of the events?
They should have a read of our storyteller guidelines (available on the Facebook page), and if they've never been to one of our nights before, we usually recommend coming along as a spectator first, just to get an idea of how it all works. There's also a list of upcoming dates and themes on the relevant Facebook pages.

Then it's just a matter of getting in touch with us on Facebook and letting us know which event you'd like to tell a story at. For those who don't have Facebook, you can email us at

 Is there an entry fee to the night?
No it's free entry, but we do usually ask the audience for "pay as you feel" donations at the end if they have enjoyed themselves. It goes toward paying our MCs and other acts, as well as the general upkeep of the events.

Jon Bennet is a comedian. Do the stories have to be funny?
 Absolutely not. It's one of the main things we always stress; by all means, tell a funny story if you want to, but some of the best tales we've ever had have been the ones that have had quite serious, dark subject matter. We do get a lot of comedians performing at our events, mainly because storytelling actually plays a really big part in comedy. But these are not comedy nights and we welcome all kinds of people from all walks of life to get involved. All we ask if that your story is interesting, engaging and succinct. Being funny is great, but it's not a requirement.

Have you plans to include live storytelling in the comedy festival or the Fringe?
Probably not for the Fringe, but we definitely have plans to put on a storytelling show for next year's Melbourne International Comedy Festival, so stay tuned.

Are you are storyteller too? 
 I'm a journalist, so I usually say I'm more interested in helping other people tell their stories than I am in telling my own. That being said, I have got up a few times to tell a story. It's good fun, and always a very safe, low-pressure environment to try out material.

What is the best story you have heard so far?
 That's a really tough call. I asked Jon as he's been doing this a lot longer than me, and he gave me these three:
 - Harley Breen's story of his wife giving birth
- Simon Keck's attempted suicide
- Pinky Watson's story about pretending to be a hippy in the 60s and living across the road from Jefferson Airplane.

Anything else you would like to say?
 Now that we've got three different storytelling nights in Melbourne, we decided it would be easier to put them all under the umbrella of The Cock and Bull, which is the storytelling podcast I started with Jon a few months ago. So you'll start seeing that logo on our posters etc from now on. 

And to listen to our podcast, search for "Cock and Bull" in the iTunes store, or visit The podcast features many live recordings from the various events around Melbourne, as well as other interviews etc.

PLUS I'd like to say that anyone who has the slightest interest or curiosity in our nights should come on down to check it out. People are constantly coming up to me to say what a wonderful night they've had, but it feels like live storytelling in Melbourne is still a bit of an underground movement and not many people know about it. So please come along, and if you like it (which I promise you will), tell all your family and friends to come too!

You can follow Cock and Bull and keep up with the dates and themes of all the storytelling events and podcasts.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Blak Out Day. Woods Street Arts Space Laverton 2013

Ngargee to share stories and culture: storytelling, weaving, dance,shadow puppetry, drumming circle...


Woods Street Arts Space 44 Woods street Laverton
12 - 5.00pm

8 June
6 July (NAIDOC Week)
10 August
7 September
12 October
9 November

Everyone is welcome

More info: Jacob Boehme: or the Boon wurrung Foundation

click on poster to enlarge

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Oral storyteller Daniel Morden at the Sydney Writer's Festival 2013

This year's Festival opening address will be given by Daniel Morden, UK storyteller working in the oral tradition. This will delight many of you who have worked hard to place oral storytelling in Literary and Writer's Festivals. Check out the Festival program HERE

And here is a video of Daniel Morden to enjoy.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

JB Rowley: Teacher, writer of family memoir and junior fantasy fiction and oral storyteller.

JB Rowley's involvement with Storytelling Australia (Vic) formally The Storytelling Guild (Vic), is a  history of note. Many of us have passed the baton working  to keep this group of scattered storytellers connected and welcomed newcomers. For many years JB's commitment to publishing a storytelling magazine seemed indefatigable. Swag of Yarns was chock full of interviews, stories to tell and storytelling tips.

Although JB can still be persuaded to spin a yarn, her focus in recent times has been writing and publishing. Her first success was Whisper My Secret but there is -

BREAKING NEWS:   ... The sequel to Whisper My Secret,  Mother of Ten, is now available.  

Your first book published in 2007 Whisper my Secret is a family memoir. Here you tell the story of discovering the existence of three step siblings. This was initially in hard copy and now available electronically. The book was very successful the first time round - what has happened to it now it’s gone e?

I have been absolutely bowled over by the increased sales of Whisper My Secret as an ebook. Thousands of people all over the world, but mostly in the USA, have downloaded a copy. I get lots of emails from people who have read the book and I really enjoy that interaction with readers.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of ebooks in your view?
Because I am in love with ebooks and with my Kindle, I cannot think of any disadvantages. The biggest advantage is probably being able to carry around hundreds of books with virtually no weight - just the light weight of my Kindle.  Another huge advantage is the benefit to the environment because ebooks rescue trees. In an age when up to 6 billion trees per year are cut down for paper production ebooks make sense. Another advantage is the buying experience. When you see an ebook you want you can have it bought and ready to read in less than a minute and you can do this at any time of the day. So if you wake up in the middle of the night and need a good read to relax you, you can have it within minutes.  Also ebooks are cheaper to buy and there are no additional costs for packaging and posting. Reading an ebook has the advantages of being able to adjust font size, to change the font and to press gently on a word to bring up a dictionary entry of that word. I love the fact that I can read my ebook on my Kindle in bed without having to have a lamp on (the Kindle Paperwhite has an inbuilt reading light).

What is the relationship between JB the storyteller and JB the writer?
They are certainly linked. I think the connection that stands out most for me is the fact that many readers of Whisper My Secret and Mother of Ten have commented on how they can see the pictures when they read what I have written. I believe that comes from my storytelling experience. As storytellers we become proficient at transferring pictures to the minds of our listeners.

In the first book, you have clearly put in hours of research to unravel the family secret. Was Mother of Ten as intensive to research? Yes. In fact, I had to do a lot more research for Mother of Ten. That is an aspect on non-fiction writing that is a two edged sword for me. While I love the research and find myself being taken down fascinating side tracks, extensive research slows down the writing process. It is the writing of the story that appeals to me most and I hate that it is being slowed down.
Of course, there is still research required for fiction writing but it is not so ‘heavy duty’. Actually, researching the background to stories is another area where storytelling crosses over with story writing. It was through storytelling that I first came to appreciate the importance of researching the background to stories to give my storytelling authenticity, even though I did not use all of the knowledge I had gained through research in the telling of the story.

You are publishing a series of books for junior readers called Trapped in Gondwana. I can see clearly how you have mined your knowledge of folktales with science to create something that is both enjoyable and educational. How do you describe these stories?
I have planned Trapped in Gondwana as a series of seven with Book 1 and Book 2 already available on Amazon. The stories are fantasy adventure. I have written them purely to entertain but because the tales combine facts they have, as you say, an educational element. While enjoying the stories children will absorb scientific knowledge such as information about the ancient fauna of Australia and New Zealand and the super continent of Gondwana. For instance, most children would not be aware (until they read Trapped in Gondwana) that 15 million years ago a flightless bird known as the Demon Duck of Doom existed in the natural world.

Learn more about JB Rowley HERE

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Newstead Short Story Tattoo 2013

Our storytellers were spotted at the Newstead Short Story Tattoo. This unique festival takes place every second year in the tiny town in central Victoria. The air was crackling with words, music and storytelling of all kinds. Neil Boyack shoulders the task of bringing it all together. This is a remarkable event for its variety, informality and hospitality.

Jackie Kerin and Anne E Stewart couldn't resist the gilt chairs in the Community Hall

Andrew McKenna snapped at Fire Stories on Saturday night. On Friday Andrew was part of the line up for Horror Stories.

Jackie Kerin rugged up against the cold at Fire Stories.

Congratulations Neil and thanks for another terrific Tattoo

Newstead Short Story Tattoo: HERE
Neil Boyack: HERE

Friday, May 3, 2013

Theatrical Spud Hut Tours: Trentham 18 May 2013

Theatrical Spud Hut Tours.

Trentham is dotted with the remains of small, single room huts once occupied with farm workers.

Reg and Charlie Lightfoot will take you on a verbal rampage through the lives and times of men who worked the spud harvest.

Details: here

Learn more about storyteller, singer and teacher Peter Fernon: here

click on poster to enlarge