Phillip Pullman once wrote that, “Stories are the most important thing in the world. Without stories, we wouldn’t be human beings at all,” and it’s very true. Stories are the way we communicated our history and our lives before the days of Facebook and Kindles, helping us pass history down through generations.
Listening to and telling stories is one of life’s greatest pleasures so it was with delight that I read about the London Storytelling Festival, and eagerly attended its launch party last week. There I was treated to snippets of stories from performers, and was thoroughly put through my emotional paces.
The evening began with an introduction from cult comic Sarah Benetto, who was not only compere for proceedings but is also Artistic Director of the festival. She did a grand job, and created an atmosphere that felt rather like sitting in someone’s living room after dinner. It felt as though we were listening to her gossip rather than being performed at, and it was hugely enjoyable.
We were treated to a story from Deborah Francis-White (also the festival Producer) about the ups and downs of selling a film script in Hollywood, tales of heartbreak (and a song) from the comedy award-shortlisted Thom Tuck, and hilarious anecdotes from Dave Hill. However, stealing the evening completely was Tim Arthur with an incredibly touching story of how he met his wife. His story was warm, funny and downright moving, leaving me desperately trying to fight back my tears and the urge to give him a hug. This is the wonderful thing about storytelling – there is something completely different about hearing it from the person themselves and seeing how telling the story affects them.
The audience were invited to submit entries to the short-short story competition, and we had to come up with just five words to describe our worst ever date. The only winner that I can really repeat is ‘I laughed in her mouth’; suffice to say that some of the experiences described makes most bad dates seem like a Mills and Boon novel!
The festival itself includes feature-length storytelling shows, workshops and showcases from stars of the comedy, music and art world, even ‘story jams’ that give you the opportunity to tell your own tales to an audience. Put simply, whether you want to laugh, cry, learn or take part there will be something at the festival to suit your tastes. They’ve even got Harry Shearer to come along and tell a story. Now that’d be worth hearing…
The London Storytelling Festival runs from 1st-10th October. For information and tickets visit www.londonstorytellingfestival.co.uk