Storytelling – with a Tent and a Chair

Preparations for the Storytelling tent at Crystal Palace Festival move on apace. Specifically, this last weekend, creating the physical setting for Storytelling. We have a bona fide Bedouin tent and lots of speculation about a magnificent Storytelling Chair.

The tent (left) courtesy of Russ, a friend of the CPOF Chairperson, comes with a matting floor, ‘walls’ and hangings on three sides and low ‘Moroccan’ tables at which to sit. Plus, because they’re needed, a sound system and microphone and a number of chairs ( not everyone wants, or is able, to sit, Arabian Nights style, cross-legged on the floor ).

Then there is the Storytelling Chair.  Is this of the up-right, winged Roald Dahl type,  a cosy armchair for an M.R.James-type ghost story or more like The Silver Chair of Narnia?  It has not yet been found, but one possibility is the enormous buttoned piece of furniture, photographed right, found by Ines Lebaek,  in a shop in Crystal Palace. Ines, who is of Danish extraction, but named for the Latin American bride of an ancestral travelling Dane, will also be on duty at the Storytelling tent on Saturday 17th June. Helping out with everything and, possibly joining in with the Beckenham Storytellers. Her speciality, unsurprisingly, given another very famous Dane, Hans Christian Anderson, is fairy tales.

I don’t think the Chair, whatever form it eventually takes, will be in use much during the first four performances, which are far from traditional. Zoie and Des of Twice Shy will be creating stories before your ears and eyes, weaving elements from the audience’s own tales over a background of improvised music. Jo Clayton, the StoryCycler ( formerly of the Globe Theatre ) will be drawing upon local experience for her South London Tales and the Story Places team from Southampton University will be introducing local writers whose stories  have been up-loaded into their App ( so that users can walk the story as well as read it ).  There’ll be a gazebo just outside the Storytelling tent where the team will help people download the App to their device and teach them how to use it. Just across the way there’s the Labyrinth of Lost Stories.

Then Reconquista and the story behind the story, a tale of maths, holidays and the making of a book. I’ll also be reading from the novel, probably one of the more exciting scenes and there’ll be music and art, as well as the story of the tent. Finally, a return to more traditional storytelling when the Beckenham Storytellers form their Story Circle and begin at the beginning.

The really good thing is that it’s all free, sponsored by Crystal Palace businesses and the Arts Council and there’s comedy, stand-up and poetry and live music too, from folk to punk, classical to jazz, with Morcheeba headlining on the Main Stage. It should be a good day out and Storytelling a good part of it.  Come along to Crystal Palace Park on Saturday 17th June and see the tent and the chair for yourselves.

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