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Crick Crack Club

Updated: Tue, 3 Mar 2015 11:54 pm

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THE CRICK CRACK CLUB is England’s premier promoter and programmer of performance storytelling. It has led the revival of performance storytelling in the UK since 1987 – focusing on the contemporary performance of international folktale, fairytales, myth & epic for predominantly adult audiences. In London, the club programmes regular sell-out performances at the Soho Theatre and Rich Mix as well as The Forge. It took the alternative Christmas spirit by storm with its Festival of Fairytales for Grown-ups at The Bargehouse in December 2011 and 2013. It collaborates actively with numerous theatres, arts centres, festivals and music venues across the UK. It also tours work nationally; offers practical training, and mentors emerging artists. @crickcrackclub

What we do

At one level, the storyteller’s work is probably closer to that of an author than an actor in that the storyteller is composing the words through which the story is communicated. Both storytellers and writers create worlds with words, inside the listener’s or reader’s mind. The pen however buys the writer crafting time that a storyteller simply has not got. The storyteller needs to be a master of spontaneous verbal composition - composition that is shaped and polished. The storyteller needs to be adept at using all forms of narrative and descriptive language, not just the direct speech and characterisation of drama. Storytelling gives the artist an opportunity to incorporate audience response immediately into his or her work in a way that is denied to an author. The storyteller is placed between the world of the story and the world of the audience; in fact the storyteller is in two worlds at once. The role of a storyteller is therefore one of mediation, translating into words and gesture the information that will help the audience to access the story world in the way the performer intends. The storyteller needs to know the story extremely intimately. Some storytellers live with their stories for years before beginning to tell them, and, once a story has entered a storyteller's repertoire, it will stay there, evolving with each telling over years. The storyteller needs also to know his or her 'self' well, because through the story something very personal will always be expressed. It has often been said that storytelling is like Jazz, or perhaps even more like the many classical, improvised musics of Asia. A structure, pattern, theme or form is given as a discipline, but from that starting point there is freedom to embellish andinterpret in as many ways as there are artists capable of engaging with it.In fact storytelling has much more in common with pre-renaissance approaches to art than with the many conventions that now surround contemporary art; paradoxically, this renders storytelling a provocative and challenging art form. Working in the neo-tradition of performance storytelling, and with the assistance of 32 students over a three year period, Ben Haggarty was able to draw up a list of nearly 100 definite techniques and strategies which a storyteller can study and master in order to have them available in the moment of improvisation. The techniques range from compositional work on the selection of imagery with an awareness of its semiotic significance, to language work such as the effect of the use of different tenses, to vocal work such as the effect of monotone and the use of pitch, to performance work such as the shifting of the centre of gravity and the effects of contra-movement, etc. To summarise, the greatest skill of a professional storyteller is the swift accessing of communicative language to convey the story as it is revealing itself in the moment and to combine this with all the dynamic energies of the body to make the story heard by the listeners. All this can only happen if the storyteller is deeply familiar with the stories, their levels of meanings and their patterns. The Crick Crack Club holds that it takes between seven and ten years of constant practical experience before the emergence of a storyteller’s real mastery of their art – and then there’s always room for improvement, experimentation and development. Examples on our YouTube Channel:

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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