Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Tell Woman

I'm off to New York tomorrow to discuss an exciting new project for junior readers. More news to follow!

In the meantime, here's the latest in my series of interviews with teachers and tellers of tales.

Today we're lucky enough to be joined by Nikky Smedley, the performer, storyteller and choreographer best known for her role as Laa Laa, the yellow Teletubby.

Nikky’s current project is The Tell Woman, a dance theatre work for 4-11 year olds. I caught up with her to find out more in advance of her forthcoming UK tour.

Who is the Tell Woman?

The Tell Woman is the teller of all tales, the creator of all dreams, the guardian of all myth, and the keeper of all stories.

What happens on a Tell Woman visit?

There are now three Tell Woman events:
The theatre show is funny, beautiful, dark and a little bit yucky. The audience are transported to the magical world where all stories are woven and stored…but must watch out for the evil Confuser hands, who want to muddle up the stories so there will be none left for all the boys and girls and everyone will have to go to bed WITHOUT a story...

The Story of Sam is the solo storytelling version of the story...because only 30 children at a time can visit, there's much more opportunity for them to get really involved and join in with all the fun bits.

Rhymin' Time is the most hands on of all...It's very fashionable these days in the magical world to weave a rhyming story. The Tell Woman has four new ones, and they're really really funny, but need a lot of help from the children to bring them to life.

How was the Tell Woman’s show born?

I'd had the image in my head for about ten years of a theatre piece in which the central catalyst was raised up at the back of the stage wearing an enormous frock that encompassed the whole performing area and which provided the geography in which the narrative took place.

It wasn't until I decided it should be a children's show that the story and characters started to take shape. I initially invented a solo storytelling event (with an enormous skirt for the children to sit in/on/around) so I could take The Tell Woman to the children and glean their reactions, play interactively with them and my ideas and generally learn from them ever.

This led to the full blown all singing all dancing physical theatre piece with a cast of five dancers and a whole bunch of puppets and a really really really enormous frock...

Where can we catch you next?

The Tell Woman theatre show is on tour from April until June, and our full tour dates (along with lots of other groovy stuff, including the four rhymin' time stories) are on

There's a rumour that The Tell Woman might show up at Stratford River Festival in July....the place to keep up to date with the storyteller events is:

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