Monday, February 1, 2016

A message from our Storytelling friend Dorte Hentschel (Germany)

Some of you will remember when German storyteller Dorte Hentschel visited Melbourne and NSW (2013-14). Several of us had the pleasure of hosting her and hearing her stories. Well.. Dorte has sent us a message.

Dear Storytellers,

The time passes. Still I do not have a blog or a web-page.

But I would like to let you know a little about what happened in my professional life in 2015. I will write most of the time about storytelling events but as well I mention some of my work as a theatre educator.


Every year since 2010 I have told stories as part of Storytellingtime, a project bringing storytellers into schools. In this project we are about 20 storytellers, national and international from Greece, Italy, Korea and Great-Britain. All storytellers in the project tell mostly in primary schools and kindergartens with a high rate of children who speak German as their second language.

The stories we tell for the children aged 3 up to 12 years old vary between chainstories, small legends, fairy tales and wonder tales – depending on the age and the length of the relationship between storyteller and group.

The German school term starts at September and ends in July. Storytellingtime is financed by Berlin Senate for Education, so the storytellers have the possibility to go every week into the schools and meet three different classes regularly.

All in all the Storytellingtime storytellers meet their audience over 30 times. On top of it we invite the children of 'our' storytelling-classes as well as their parents to the library closest to the school. Depending on time and possibilities we rehearse a small storytelling presentation for the parents in the library as well as telling a story for the families in the library.

Theatre educator

As you can see I still work a lot in Berlin.

I work there as a storyteller as well as a theatre educator.

On behalf of Storytellingtime I worked the third time together with Lilian Matzke, a great artist in the field of object theater. This year we created a play for the fairy tale 'Sleeping Beauty'. Other projects Lilian and I made in schools are named 'The Wild Goose' (2013) and 'The Brave Little Tailor' (2014).
My work as a theatre educator led me to move back to my hometown Cottbus.

There I work in the children and youth theatre Piccolo.

With children aged 6 to 8 we created two plays inspired by two fairytales. One is called 'The Carrot', in German 'Das Rübchen', and the other one is called 'The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats', in German 'Der Wolf und die sieben Geißlein'.

With teenagers aged 13 to 16 we created a play called 'Schnipselgestrüpp', English 'Scrub out of Snippets'. The play is based on a children's book with the name 'Schnipselgestrüpp'. The calm play was telling the story of a poor boy who was overcoming his limited environment by his fantasy.

Very special for all of us was that we could show pictures made by one of our actors via an old slide projector. As you can see in the pictures we used pink banana boxes for the play. Two white large boxes we used as a screen for the pictures of the slide projector.

 I feel very lucky that I continue to work with this group of teenagers. The school term 2015/2016, we work on a play with the working title 'Being a Bird in a Fish Pond'.
Next to my work as theatre educator in Cottbus I tell stories and give workshops in Cottbus.


In June I was very excited as I gave my first story-telling seminar at the TU (Technical University) in Cottbus. The storytelling-course was integrated in the schedule for students in the second term of social science.

A funny coincidence occurred at the time of the Seminar with a visitor from Australia. Angela Brynn hosted me for about two weeks on Dangar Island, Sydney. It was especially nice because Angela herself gives workshops in communication for social workers.

In autumn I was invited to tell stories in all 13 classes of Carl-Blechen-PrimarySchool in Cottbus. It was very nice to challenge myself to tell 13 different stories in one week to children aged between 6 years and 12 years.

Background and growth of the storytelling revival in Berlin and Cottbus

Theatre Work and Storytelling in Berlin and in Cottbus keeps me very busy. But all that kind of work would not be possible without all the other people working in that field, bringing in new ideas, bringing new connections, trying out, sharing their experiences and working on a network.

Since about 10 years the storytelling network grows stronger every year.

Here comes a short historical overview about how the storytelling grew in and around Berlin – from my point of view.

Kristin Wardetzky, a former professor at the University of arts brought the art of storytelling into the course of theatre education. (Kristine left)

Kristin Wardetzky invented the idea of Storytellingtime. The project leader is now is Sabine Kolbe.

Furthermore Kristin Wardetzky and a group of storytellers founded the association Erzählkunst ('the art of storytelling').

These days the association is very busy raising money to enable storytellers to work for refugees. Other projects the association is busy with are organising storytelling events as 'Offene ErzählBühne', means 'Open TellingStage', every month and 'Berlin erzählt', means 'Berlin tells' ones every year in March.

The association 'Erzählkunst' ('the art of storytelling') is part of the association of all German speaking storytellers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland called 'VEE – Verband der Erzählerinnen und Erzäler e.V.'

This year the aim of 'VEE' is to become member of 'FEST – Federation for European storytelling'.

In 2015 I was part of the meeting of 'VEE' in Hamburg as well as part of the meeting of 'FEST' in Greece for the very first time.

'VEE' was overwhelming with connections to very nice, very open poeple and I was busy with getting how the association is organised who knows whom through whom and who belongs to which city, region, country.The most interesting fact I can share from this meeting is the contact to Paul Daniel, a storyteller from Austria.
Paul Daniel organised the 'Raunachts-Telling'.The 'Rauhnächte' are known as the 'Twelve Nights' in English speaking countries. The time between Christmas and the 6th of January are famous for being magic and mystic and the Austrian storytellers in and around Vienna started to meet during this time to tell stories. I was invited to tell stories, too, but anyhow my wayled me to Bremen, far far north in the opposite direction.

Writing about Austrian storytellers brings 'Frau Wolle' in my mind. I very much appreciate Karin Tscholls work which you can find here in English language: HERE

 Last but not least I want to mention 'FEST' in Greece.
The Hungarian storyteller Zalka Csenge wrote a nice article about this meeting: HERE

For me it was great to meet so very many storytellers from all over Europe. Again I was overwhelmed by all these nice people.

The seven young Turkish storytellers impressed all with their dynamic and open appearance. Nazly Cevik is the founder of Seiba.

And in the end I want to mention that impressive idea from the Canadian storytellers to go on a walk and tell storyies every night at every station you reach in eight days.
I play with that idea every now and then ;-).


Thank you Dorte for sharing your news for Europe and keeping in touch with your storytelling friends in Australia

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