Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)
I became Skald to the Chieftain of Njardarheimr Viking Village in Gudvangen, Norway through a respect for my work.
Lively, moving, often light-hearted there is a depth which brings enlightenment through new thought.
Coming from performance and poetry with an independent approach can bring a refreshing new outlook.
We can all give to each other.
My storytelling developed as an interest following working in the position of Poet in Residence for York Archaeological Trust. The resultant storytelling was observed and appreciated leading to travels in Scandinavia.
I tell in far more forms that Viking, am known for bringing story alive in a unique way, in an interwoven performance.
An ability to nurture and develop bring a popularity in many fields from reminiscence to theatre. Above all known to be remarkable; never forgotten, always sought after and perpetually stimulating.
I hold courses, workshops, lectures and storytelling circles for whoever you are at whichever stage in life.
This series Storytelling is… has been created to be applied to currently planned work at Norsk Høstfest, North Dakota State Fairground, Minnesota and for University of Wisconsin Green Bay in their longhouse so is aimed primarily at those who wish to develop storytelling skills to present to their fellow Vikings; I am, though, ever adaptable.
Facts and anecdotes, also ancient things – I am a collector. Not of stamps, or of spotted things but of these such bits; couple these to whole chunks of experience and I just have to go out there and tell.
Everyone is a storyteller, knowing your audience / getting used to them makes one a whole lot better. Gaining an increased understanding of the oral tradition develops one even further.
Given time, each storyteller is marvellous. – Given a good platform each story lasts forever.
People who are quiet will enthral audiences. Those who have repertoires will thirst for more. Those who are entertainers will rise above themselves.
People who spend time in my groups are more able to storytell.
It is about knowing so let us pledge…
We shall be guided along our path. We shall increase the wealth levels of skill. We shall share. We shall grow.
We shall attend Adrian’s workshops, his atmospheric performances, his empowering story circles.
I work widely to commission for performance and for display and publication.
I act as team leader and contributor for community based projects.
I am personal Skald to the chieftain of Viking Valley, Gudvangen, Norway.
I have written extensively from the experiences of many different groups within society: with prisoners, widely with the homeless, the elderly and those with mental health needs etc, (my background as a staff nurse in mental health continues to be an influence).
Festivals such as the Jorvik Festival and many schools have used me to draw inspiration from the thoughts and ideas of children to create displays, performances and publications. Outcomes are vital and I always seek to maximize the results in terms of displays, features and publications. I work with bands at many festivals, writing poems for each performance.
I have worked for many organizations including;
Archer Project in Sheffield
City of York Arts and Culture
City of York Library Services
City of York Parks and Gardens
Hull and District MIND
Jorvik Viking Centre
Joseph Rowntree Trust
Leeds Museum Services
Peaseholme Centre for the Homeless
SigRun Viking Art & Design
Stockton Museum Services
The Poetry Society
We Are Theatre
York Archaeological Trust
York Festival of Light
York Literature Festival
York Museum Trust
York Theatre Royal
I regularly perform at Festivals, both nationally and internationally, and at residential homes, schools, community groups, prisons and safe houses.
Past Festival performances include;
Jelling Festival of Mythology, Denmark
Beverley Music Festival
Henley On Thames Festival of Music and the Arts
Ilkley Literature Festival
Jorvik Viking Festival
Otley Black Sheep Festival
Musicport World Music
York Festival of Storytelling
Much of my work, particularly for schools, museums and the community has been commissions, where I have developed interactive mixed media projects through research upon the commissioner’s chosen theme.
Action Towards Inclusion Team Leader and contributor empowering those with mental health needs utilizing storytelling to develop confidence and discover new directions.
Home to York; community based project leading to an exhibition of story related art with live performances, filmmaking and digital displays.
Centre establishment for the new Peaseholme Centre involving text with art and core philosophy development.
Circles and shares for many years at various establishments particularly around York.
Team Leader and performer for I’m Here project with an occupational theme around community homes resulting in a display, film and digital portfolio.
Storytelling courses, circles and courses at Viking festivals and schools in Norway and the UK.
Story walks created and performed for Bjorgvin Marknad near Bergen.
Community placement at Jacobs Well, York resulting in a publication of poetry relating to Alzheimer’s for circulation around doctors surgeries.
Collaborations with several artists and digital media artists to create text/poem/story integrated with their art including
Gods Bless Ya! Rock Opera with Alda Raven and SigRun Viking Art & Design.
Legendary; story and song duo with Olivia Jayne Newton.
Slim Knows Time fifties and sixties beat poetry band.
Co-writing / recording / narrating the Spendlow’s York series featuring Romans, Vikings, The Minster, Viking sculpture including the development of Christianity in early Britain and York Castle.
Week day residency on the Jerry Scott show; Radio York for three years.
Poet in residence at the Jorvik Centre for York Archaeological Trust; also many interactive projects within Coppergate Square and St Sampsons Square at their festivals.
Blind and Partially sighted tours and placements also incorporating other areas of need
Tourist walks for language schools and party bookings.
Access All Areas Music Awards, Presenter, London.
The Kirklevington Stones Project for Stockton Museum Service.
Student placements from York University for specific one to one projects.
Greek Myths and story development projects for St Olaves / St Peters schools.
The Viking Banner Project for York Archaeological Trust in cooperation with Arts Action York and artist Jo Pullar.
Many commissions for the Jorvik Viking Festival including Road to Ragnarok.
Andvari’s Gold Nordic myth CD for Jelling Dragon international sales site.
The Dolly and the Riverboat for York River Festival, (working closely with the Keelmen and descendants) Scenic sculpture with story and poetry.
Watery Tales initially for the York River Festival.
Right let’s try this. An online show to represent what I will be performing, (though probably nothing like the actual show when the day comes) when I am at Norsk Høstfest, North Dakota State Fairground, Minesota and University of Wisconsin Green Bay in their Viking house.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen
Or should I say, Jarls, Ammadottir Farm-women and, that person over there in the corner.
We are still sat around this fire, as others have. There is a Farm-leader (read that as ‘Village-leader’ because it means the same in our Viking culture). We are timeless.
Shadows cast behind us are larger versions and I shall dance in flickering unison in your mind’s eye while I seek to portray the essence of a relevant storytelling show.
Let us weave through the mysteries of Creation as we see the giant who would become a god, Odin Borrsson, climb that giant tree.
Asgard was to be the city he would build here as a base as he goes out among the worlds on quests.
Power upon power he did gather until he became a god, the god: The All-father god of what had come before and what was yet to come.
The followers of the All-father’s pantheon would come to be described by papal scholars as sea rogues – ‘pirates’ – and so it is that I drink a potion, imagine if you will the small bottle with a label,it said something about being a magical potion but I didn’t read it properly).
So, I got that there like that there and went like that there into that there like that there, there. Then that there is in that there like that there and I went like that there, there.
Well, then I read it properly and it said, magical potion of forgetfulness. So now I can’t remember anything. So I don’t know how I am going to be able to tell you the story. I know, how about I tell you what bits I do recall and you help me remember the rest?
The details shall have to wait till we get together. I shall of course be asking if the voices I do sound right and if the captain really walks like this, then adding in your improvements as I go.
It may well be that group help is needed with the crowd scenes and with any treasure retrieval: Thus, interactive storytelling is unleashed.
We will encounter rare treasures indeed when we travel in our long ships. We will hear other stories:
Let us return from across the Red Sea with tales of three women who weave the threads of our lives.
We may enter a Yurta in Siberia where the hero the three year old golden boy journeys for nine years, and still at three year old, he defeats the nine fathom long necked hempen-haired witch-woman from the eleventh level.He is still three at the end of many adventures when he meets his true father the white stone.
In the bamboo lands we may hear a six thousand year old (first ever documented) report of a close encounter of the third kind.
Listen to the story here, (with many thanks to Donna Kitching for recording my words).
As British folklore, history and culture are woven together I become Hobb.
I am Hobb the pig-man, not that I have any pigs, but you know how you all have a pig in the house don’t you (there are always some nods) and they get in the way; so you push them outside (well they did in my-a-days). Well, I feel sorry for all the pigs so I have them round my house. I am always warm on a night, and I am never short of company. People don’t tend to like me very much, on account of the smell, but the pigs like me.
I take them for walks. On this one occasion one wanders off, ooooo the adventures as a result: I meet mermaids, marry a princess, get swallowed by a whale, get chased by trolls, live in the land of fairy, sail on a ghost ship, summon a unicorn when in dire need, save a king, and now, at the end, get my old job back as the pig man. – ‘Now, where’s that lost pig’…
I recall there are three bears, but I might need a lot of help…
I travel with St Patrick, all of his adventures are mine; we meet all the kings, we sail all the islands, the most chilling of all being the hall of the cat.
There is a great temple-like building in the middle of the island, at this point Patrick’s crew of twelve are still alive and we are out of water, so we must stop. There is no sign of a stream or waterfall but the occupants must survive somehow; we go in.
Gold shines at us. Gleaming. Glittering. All around the walls. The glass roof amplifies the light. All the walls are filled with alcove shelves and all the alcoves are filled with gold. Bizarre gold statues of ordinary everyday things. Oh how our eyes gleam, for some of us more than others: Gold.
Thoughts of thirst are replaced by greed.
Movement is noticed; an ordinary-sized house cat.
There is a circle of pillars around the room, all a little taller than a man, yet flat and empty; except the cat is leaping from pillar to pillar round and round.
A huge booming voice fills out brains, “Take any of the fruit from the middle of the room.” (We hadn’t noticed the fruit till now.) “Do not take any of the gold,” some of our number stepped towards the alcoves, “If you do so you will die.”
Three of our number carried on. They took gold. The rest of us took fruit. We left. We arrived at our ship at the shore. Three carried gold.
The cat came bounding out in large arced silent leaps, right up to us. It leapt right through each of the ones who carried gold. As it leapt through each there was a cloud of dust and then nothing.
The remaining nine of us sailed away. As we sailed in search of another fabled isle Patrick wondered if three of the alcoves now held statues of our companions carrying the objects they stole.
Here is another battle; this time the Vikings won. (With thanks to Graham Scarisbrick for recording my words.)
(NB My show at Norsk Hostfest and in the longhouse at University of Wisconsin Green Bay will be largely Viking and mainly myth.)
I hope you have enjoyed this storytelling show and that the eclectic mixture has helped you get an idea of ways of thinking, techniques and direction for your future sets; I know that I keep working on new ways.
I suppose it must be admitted that there is not a great deal of humility involved in the creation of this set of guidelines for storytellers. The main motivator for me was showing off at how thrilled I am to have been booked to go work and perform in America.
I say America rather than The United States of America because I am secretly hoping someone else in The Americas will see this and invite me to the Amazon as well.
As you can see even at this early stage I am already digressing and I will be making this piece far too long for its original purpose which was to write a proposal for my visit, I suppose the longer it is, the more use it is to you the developing storyteller.
Primarily I shall be showing you details of my courses and performances at a Scandinavian Festival in North Dakota and in a longhouse in Wisconsin, (further details are in Links), so there is a Viking theme going on here; I shall try throughout however to have all this be helpful for ‘telling’ in any genre.
Basically, this blog will consist of a breakdown into headers for this tour.
Each of which will help you deepen your abilities as a storyteller.
There will be a description of the tour, details of a planned storytelling session (of an eclectic nature), an introduction to my work and motivation, details of my lectures, roles of a Skald / storyteller, suggestions of techniques, the benefits of following on with a story circle, group working through feedback, presenting outcomes and useful links to give you a background understanding of the projects involved.
I am hoping for responses and feedback to add to future editions in the series.
Indeed this whole thing has been put together as a fluid thing destined to develop through your input.
There will also be a link to my Bio (or CV).
Oh yes and a poem or two.
If I am totally honest I am a little scared of writing proposals and would rather write a scrolling long blog for kind people like Heidi and Tim to draw upon; so, it is not lack of humility that prompts the creation of this blog after all, it is fear.
Right let’s try this. An online show to represent what I will be performing, (though probably nothing like the actual show when the day comes) when I am at Norsk Høstfest, North Dakota and University of Wisconsin Green Bay in their Viking house.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen…
Storytelling is… #11 The Poem
Storytelling is… #10 The Links
Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle
Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques
Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic
Storytelling is… #6 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Chanters Stool
Storytelling is… #5 The Spendlow Lectures Part 1 The Chosen
Storytelling is… #4 An introduction to Adrian Spendlow (me)