This blog was first published for the beyond the boder new voices mentoring scheme here; https://beyondtheborder.com/kestrel/
Just short of one month into the mentorship and my head is already overflowing with new ideas, this journey has got off to such a promising start and I’m really excited to see where it goes next!
We began at the start of the month with a meeting hosted by Beyond the Border in which I chatted with my mentors; Cath Little and Daniel Morden, about what a mentorship meant to us, the roles of the mentor and mentee and an outline of what I was hoping to achieve through the process.
I shared an analogy of climbing a mountain and a mentor being someone who has already climbed higher and can point out the best routes, Daniel replied to this with a story, “A person was lost in a forest, after three weeks of fruitless wandering they finally met their another human coming down the path. ‘At last, another person! Can you help me? I’ve been lost in this forest for three weeks!’ ‘Three weeks I’ve been lost here for three years!’ ‘Never mind, you won’t be any help.’ ‘Hold on! Just because I haven’t found the way out, doesn’t mean I can’t help you. I may not be able to point you on the right road but, I can tell you which paths to avoid.’” So, I decided to follow Cath and Daniel further into the forest and see what we could find, perhaps there would be a mountain in there somewhere.
With Daniel I began to work on developing a show from a seed of a myth that has been bubbling away in my mind, growing story by story, leaf by leaf, for the last three years until it reached an improbable height and needed a good prune to make it audience ready. This tree is the saga of Binderella, the Anti-Goddess of the dispossessed, of the homeless outcasts, the punks and squatters, travellers, refugees and all the lost lonely scavengers that live on the edges and hide in the cracks. The story tells the tales of Binderella, found as a lost baby in a bin, and her struggle to overcome the Faceless Man and his insatiable greedy desire to consume the world, one forest, one mountain, one river, one people at a time. Daniel is an incredible composer of stories and his advice has been invaluable, jumping between referencing the Odyssey and William Blake, to the Lord of the Rings and punk music, he has been instrumental at helping me see the mass of stories I’ve generated as a single piece rather than a bunch of interconnected but individual tales, and guiding me in making the changes needed to weave them into a single powerful narrative that invests more into the journey arc that sees Binderella grow towards the empowerment she needs to reach in order to face her oppressor.
As an oral storyteller I’ve had an aversion to writing anything, anywhere, ever, however, with Daniels encouragement, for the first time ever I put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard) and wrote the whole of Binderella down. Thirteen thousand words, twenty three stories (finished, unfinished and unstarted) and sixteen pages later the first draft summary was finished. After cutting out the unnecessary side branches and prologues and merging some of the tales together, the next draft is a page and three hundred words longer, despite being eleven stories shorter. I’m really looking forward to finalising the composition with Daniel so that we can move onto workshopping the performance and talking about how to add in music.
Just before local lockdown I had the opportunity to visit Cath in the Oasis centre in Cardiff to observe how she holds a story circle there. Cath is a very welcoming host with the twin abilities of being able to remember everyone’s names after hearing them once, and making everyone feel comfortable to share or listen without pressure. There were stories of hidden treasures, magic pots and sleeping beauties, poetry and music.
This week we had our first session together in which we explored Bute Park and talked about everything! We talked about storytelling in the outdoors, the way wild spaces capture the imagination, we talked about storytelling for mental health and the threads linking traditional tales with the new, we even talked about what we’d planned to talk about; holding workshops to teach storytelling skills and techniques. I outlined my ideas of a framework for a workshop sharing the techniques I use to develop stories, ranging from improvisation to visualisation, stealing (Hermes was the God of storytellers and thieves after all) and borrowing ideas, and talking out loud without worrying what people might think of you. Cath was encouraging and inspiring, visioning ideas and possibilities of where we could take our practice further in creating performances that open the mind to other worlds and ways of living.
It was a really illuminating conversation that left me brimming with excitement and my head full of a stampede of thoughts and ideas. From here we’re looking forwards towards developing my skills towards holding a workshop that could compliment the performance of Binderella and help encourage a rise in self-made myth making.
Onwards and upwards. Deeper into the forest, higher towards the mountain peak. If we’re lost together at least the company’s good and the view from the summit is worth the climb.