Netherbow Theatre Storytelling

Apprentice Storytellers Take Centre Stage

The Scottish Storytelling Centre is the Home of Scotland’s Stories, preserving and promoting the rich oral heritage of Scotland and beyond so everyone can discover the magic of live storytelling told eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart.

The Centre operates a Storyteller’s Apprenticeship Programme for those who want to delve into the world of compelling telling.

The Centre has a vibrant group of apprentice storytellers registered – currently 22 apprentices signed up who are based across the country from Orkney to Ayr – who are all making their way, honing their skills, developing their craft and forging new storytelling paths for the future. Through workshops, mentoring and community engagement the apprentices are out experiencing Scotland’s stories, discovering the history and uncovering new tales and the Storytelling Centre want to celebrate the new champions of storytelling with performance opportunities.

The apprentices took to the stage in October for their first Stories on the Way outing, which was a delectable treat of an evening, showcasing a variety of tales and styles and highlighting that there is no shortage of storytelling skill from this group. Now they are back to dazzle with tales again on Friday 20 February, with tales of turning points and wayward travellers.

Erin Farley_Credit Simon WaldmanErin Farley, one of the apprentice tellers and Tutor at the School of Celtic & Scottish Studies, gives a flavour of being an apprentice, performing and what she’s planning for Friday:

The apprentices meet for a day of discussion and practice every three months, led by Janis Mackay. One of the main benefits of bringing the apprentices together is as a support group – we can talk through the questions and deal with the confidence wobbles that arise. We can also learn from each other’s skills and experience – one of the group, Nicola, led a tour guiding workshop for us on the most recent apprenticeship day.

“I remember, at one of the first storytelling workshops I ever went to at the centre, the Traveller storyteller Jess Smith telling us about a cardigan. We all have an ugly cardigan in our wardrobe which we know does nothing for us, but for some reason we never get rid of it. Most of us have a psychic version of the cardigan, too – the voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that no one wants to listen. To be a really good storyteller, Jess told us, we need to learn to cast off that mental cardigan and learn to trust our own voices. As we move along our apprenticeship journey, we are gradually unravelling the cardigans.

“I signed up for the first Stories on the Way event, which took place in October. The eight of us performing were all taking our first go on the familiar Netherbow stage. I thoroughly enjoyed it (as did the audience!) and it wasn’t long before I found another opportunity to get back up on the stage as part of a Stories and Craft event just before Hogmanay, in association with Craft Scotland.

“Most of my favourite stories have a ghostly or supernatural element to them, but on Friday I will be telling a more humorous one, a contrast to the tragic tale I went for at the first performance. It’s an Icelandic story which I learned in Orkney from the wonderful Shetland storyteller Lawrence Tulloch – I can’t give anything else away here, so you’ll have to come on Friday if you want to find out more!”

Nicola Wright, who led the workshop on tour guiding that Erin mentions, has also found the apprentice scheme vital and loves the opportunity to perform:

I have been an apprenticeship since last year and have found the experience invaluable. It’s great to meet fellow storytellers and learn about their journey with feedback and encouragement that has helped me to trust my instincts and pursue my goal.

“At the first Stories on the Way, I told the tale of The Bagpipes of the Somme. I loved the experience as the Netherbow is such a warm intimate space for the telling of stories. This time round I am telling the tale of the woman who scorned the most precious thing in the world… it’s a cracker of a story!

Rolf BuwertRolf Buwert has been dabbling with storytelling for seven years in Dumfries – after a 30 year career with the Police – honing his skills at Drumlanrig Castle, which provides the perfect backdrop for tales:

The castle is a wonderful setting for storytelling walks, and I take small groups through the formal gardens and forest.”

 Rolf is excited to take to the Netherbow stage to tell his tale Black Gold:

The story I will be telling is based on Drumlanrig Castle and the history of chocolate mining in the Nith valley, which ties in to Robert Burns and the invention of the first cappuccino machine.

Fellow apprentice Carolyne Latham – Artistic Director for Puppet Anima – also shares her thoughts on the benefits of the scheme and what she has planned for her performance:

As a storyteller and puppeteer for children, I am able to learn a lot from the experience of fellow emerging storytellers, and enjoyed the opportunity to facilitate a short puppetry workshop for the group. The advice I try to remember is that everyone loves to hear stories!

“Before beginning to rehearse for the first Stories on the Way event, I had only sat on the stage of the Netherbow Theatre during a workshop! So it was great to perform to an invested audience of story lovers.

“Classical mythology is my inspiration for storytelling, and my story of an extraordinary journey for Friday is the tale of Arion and the Dolphin, a favourite of my friend – the late Andy Hunter.

Join the apprentices for a wonderful, varied and spell binding evening at the Centre’s Netherbow Theatre this Friday and be transported away by story.

Carolyne Latham_Credit Andy Caitlin