Storytelling Performances in Schools

This is a quick update on the project’s outreach efforts, which have been going well over the winter. A number of participants are based in Oxford and have been regularly performing together. We have taken our tales to a number of local primary schools – for a term we took part in a regular afterschool story club, and we have also organised plenty of one-off sessions.

Initially the project was aimed at Key Stage 2 (age 7-11) schoolchildren. In addition to KS2, we have also performed for Key Stage 3 (age 11-14). We have all really enjoyed performing to both of these age groups, not least forstudents’ extraordinarily creative responses and queries about our stories. Each outreach session involved a performance from one or two tellers, plenty of time for questions, from both storytellers and pupils, and time for further activities. We developed a range of extension activities to encourage students to engage with the tales and with the art of storytelling. These involved creative visualisation – an exercise we had practised ourselves at the training workshops – and lots of fun drawings of knight’s shields and monsters, which acted as storyboards from which the students went on to spin their own stories.

We were rewarded with fabulously imaginative narratives; medieval features were interwoven with pirates, magical keys, Marvel characters, hybrid monsters of remarkable complexity, gruesome invented weaponry, weird and wonderful landscapes, all manner of cute or dangerous animals, and myriad, often oddly mundane, objects. The children took delight in piecing together characters, things, motives, places, and stuffed their stories with historical and modern cultural references. Wherever possible, the sessions culminated in short performances by the children to us, their teacher and their peers.

Hannah Ryley

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