Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

 

 

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

What is a Skald?

I could look it up, and perhaps I will, but there is almost no need of history, we are history, we are re-making it as we go along. Let ‘What is a Skald?’ be answered by what is needed of me.

Some of you are, like, yes but what is a Skald? I am storyteller to the chieftain so we can start from there.

Fame and respect I suppose. A storyteller and or poet would be noticed and enjoyable. They would be thanked loudly as well as being responded to as they go along. So it was with me I guess. I did many a performance in many a place before I was asked to be Skald. Poetry and story and most importantly, a mixture.

So audiences were aware of me. Any passing chieftains would be able to see that appreciation shown by the crowd at a glance. They would hear the applause and sometimes even cheers. They would hear laughter – but I do maintain that I am funnier over here in Norway than I was back home in Yorkshire.

There needs to be a little more than this when that chieftain comes along. He needs to like what he hears, to see where the performer is coming from with an air of expectation.

More than this though, they need to jell. So it was with Georg and I. We got along with mutual respect and anticipation right from the start. Not that we are alike, or at least not in every way; our views compliment each other. Also, as Georg says, we ‘look right’.

Not that the role is exclusive, parts of the job can be stepped into by others at times: storytellers, shamans, musicians, hosts, all play a part as happens.

Georg saw me perform at the Jorvik Viking Festival (many times in fact) and through that he invited me to go to Gudvangen.

My performances were a mixture of poetry and story and were tailored to fit the occasion, and the needs of the festival organisers. This arrangement is a happy compromise which also requires and effort to acknowledge the needs of the audience.

So it was in history and so it is that history repeats itself.

Yes, Skald, or Skalt, means poet. One needs to be a poet, experience shows however one needs to be so much more.

The praise poems are needed of course. Special occasions are marked, battles also. In this Viking town rather than just celebrating past battles the Skald needs to support in current ones; fighting the corner in more gentle or subtle ways than the battles of axe-wielding of old. One may also need to help bury the hatchet.

Other roles such as ceremonies we shall come to which often require poems; ‘poems of a purpose’ beyond the topic of the role of the chieftain.

I think my chieftain (or would-be king) continues in the role not just because of the massive levels of respect and expectation from thousands of supporters but also because it is fun.

One must have fun, one must also take ones role very seriously. I know I do. I couldn’t write for the job if I didn’t have a massive respect for the man, for his role, for our societies, and for all who come here.

I am not alone in the role, Georg has several singers, poets, tellers around him – I throw myself into the role and try to take up every challenge. I try.

I take my ‘job’ very seriously, that way it leads to a whole load of fun.

I am sure the Skalds of old had fun, I am also sure they were storytellers. It is said that their panegyrics (praise poems) were quite complicated. The main elements of skaldic verse ( to keep this brief and simple) are: beat rather than rhyme, resonance, assonance, alliteration, consonance and that uniquely Norse metaphoric construct the kenning. The naming-word structures kenning were chiefly used to refer to stories from the Norse belief system which we most often refer to as the myths.

It is believed that the Skald utilised a combination of skaldic verse and story; partly to enthral, partly to impress.

A poem would be spoken, not all of it would be understood so the Skald would look impressive, they would then tell the story or stories which related to the kennings, so being entertaining and explanatory they would now repeat the poem and the listeners would understand it and they could be impressed with themselves.

Some say there was vanity involved, even so far as to say that we only know of the myths / belief system because such as Snorri could feel immortal because we could understand his poetry.

I know that I am immensely proud of being humble and it is the only reason I have been so exceptionally successful.

My main topic here shall be my diversity within the complexities of the role it is an echo of the past in the present, and the skalds certainly diversified.

Beyond the many aspects of the role there is also the fact that it has come about through the natural occurrence of events to be perpetually entwined with occurrences of the past.

We are a rock. A bridge. A ship. A hog-back stone. We are a Heiti – A short replacement of description by metaphor.

We are a time-talker – death-spanner – eon-kin; we are interlinked by our use of kenning.

Our very panegyrics: our words of praise unite us across time.

We are the ‘sound’ from the Proto-Germanic skalliz = sound, voice, shout. The Old High German skal for sound; a skalsong was a song of praise.

Be aware we also have cross time connections in the field of mocking, insulting, word-sparing, with the current English word scold coming from the same root.

For good or bad as a skald you will be an influence, usually for the good of course. You will be an influence and may diversify further into other roles.

You will join the ranks of the keepers of culture and history and of old this often led to other roles.

Becoming a clerk or a scribe was common; a record keeper. Some became preachers, then, as of now, are different faiths and different groups. One now might be led into a role within a re-enactment society’s management, back then skalds would become representatives at a Thing; at the All-thing. You are a skald you are a prominent figure.

One thing is for certain, there were stories to tell, there was a wish to listen, be captivated, to learn. I am very glad to say there is still a place for story today; still a place for old tales and tradition always. Being the skald can definitely lead to stories being told.

One should come to this role through respect. I understand that in some societies, especially in Britain, one has to endure tests – it all sounds a bit Greek to me.

Back in the day, (The Norse day – our heyday), one might be tested by circumstance and be seen to rise above. Perhaps one may even take part in a skald-off – the old mock fights of mocking words, where you make the other look so bad that you rise to the fore – not for me that one, (unless pushed).

In many a re-enactment society to tell stories there are tests which one must. Forgive me if I have details wrong but it goes something like this… Apply to be a member, pay up a fee, arrange to go to the annual training weekend, do the village test, and acting test, three appearance tests and the skald test – you are now a skald. I would place the emphasis on ‘a’ skald and would better describe this as being tested to be a storyteller. There are other ways yet this is one way.

To become ‘the’ skald however this comes from respect.

By ‘the’ I mean the chosen representative of a leader or group; it may be a queen requiring great praise, it may be your local Vikingslag for berating the loser of a scrap or a skirmish. Be it live action role play or at a Viking activity centre it is best not to look at the role as a rank, a qualification or an employment; you deserve the role.

You will be busy.

We shall need to write and or memorise skaldic verse or stylized words for the sake of the occasion, achievements and celebration, (I use a leather binder rather than memory).

We may well help others; story circles, workshops, shares, we may even organise a vote to choose skald of the festival, of the market, of the year. We can create storytellers.

There shall be collaboration; with visiting dignitaries, event managers, business owners, societies. There will be creative collaborations with musicians, drummers, singers, chanters, marchers, actors – with bloggers, vloggers, media, artists, weavers.

Then, of course, there are the speeches, welcoming, declaring open, creating an atmosphere, thinking of fun ways of saying things – attempting to capture the essence of the atmosphere but also of what my chieftain will want to put across.

People should feel good – my chieftain’s golden rule is everyone is welcome except those who don’t make others feel welcome.

Then our chieftain shall speak and I shall have made everyone aware of how important his words shall be – I can put them in a nutshell for you though – It is all about love.

There is the blot or versions of same. This can be a ritualistic ceremony where everyone involved is deeply moved with the connection to the Aesir. The Asatru are the followers of Odin’s family, they are his family.

Such ceremonies are similar to many activities which many British would describe as Pagan.

A simple ceremony can be formed at an opening to bless and celebrate – this is often a mixture of light-hearted and or sentimentally moving. We fill the horn with mead and pass it round, as it circulates each person takes a sip (or gifts a little to the earth if they don’t drink alcohol); as I say these can be endearing and powerful or as simple as ‘Skol’!

One highly jocular comment seemed to be extremely popular when I was in the circle, “Cheerio Miss Sophie.” – this is seen by Norwegians as quintessentially English and yet, for years, was completely incomprehensible to me.

Everyone is welcome and ‘everyone’ is a wide-ranging set of people. – there is almost every belief here and many reasons to be here; Pagans may feel a connection to the place, Asatru to their gods, Muslims might be internally connecting in their own way, Jewish… – you get the idea.

We all have reasons for being here too, from the tourist to the re-enactor, from the site owner to the child of the drummer, traditionalists and newcomers, outsiders and originators, we can all get something out of this, and the nearest I can come to summarising is – timelessness.

There are specific ceremonies, ie funerals, naming days, blessings, weddings, initiations. How are these done? – By everyone sharing their expectations and wishes, to ensure that these elements are included.

You have jobs beyond the grand occasion, newcomers should feel welcome, they should not feel unsure, they should be guided and befriended. – Keep an eye out for them and point them at the right person (possibly yourself).

New ideas will come and you will seek to be encouraging and informative.

Off-shoots of my role have included, contributing to newsletters, blogging, arranging tapestry presentations across the globe.

The biggest thing perhaps is the parade; the background to it and the resultant ceremony.

Background indeed, often an aspect hardly noticed IE there are drummers and pipers hanging around wondering what’s going on. The film crews will be arriving in about five minutes. “Could you drum so they hear which way to come?” “Maybe blow horns when they are in sight?” “Could you be at either side so they walk through?”

To the chap with the three-metre spear, “Could you accompany the chieftain and I so you are his honour guard on the stage?”

“You warriors, when I hold up my hand for silence for the chieftain could you run in front of the stage roaring and clash your weapons to your shields?”

“Galda man, when the shields have been clashed and the horns have been blown could you make one of your spiritual screams?”

“The crew won’t be set up in front of the stage for ten or fifteen minutes so we all could parade around the full camp following our chieftain.”

I shall call onlookers to follow us so we have a crowd from the stalls.

So, everybody marches.

Being adaptable and able to respond ably to commission are vital skills.

People need to get there too. How is the place represented? Can you improve upon what is out there? During the course of writing this blog several people have enquired upon how to visit my chieftain’s town.

The getting there is a story in itself and can be made very entertaining, especially if you make it seem of the Viking age.

I was lost at a huge place with many stalls, all selling odours and alcohol, water was highly priced. I became lost in this accused place and passed many many gateways all leading to other worlds. When I found the right gate and donned Freyja’s feathers I landed in a place of many tunnels – no wonder you people believe in dwarves.

I am from the new lands and have returned to the old stone to remember they ways.

The narrative of the day is also important. Letting people know in a fun way what to expect and what they can take part in.

Activities can be acted out see………………….

I of the new lands must admit to forgetting the old ways – we no longer have grass on our rooves – we have done the terrible deed of missing with the others – Saxon! Angles! Even Parisii!

I may have an advantage; being fluent in English as the world of the Viking is multinational and English is a common tongue, giving me advantage of a Norwegian speaker slightly, possibly, maybe.

We have told multinational stories in over twenty languages and dialects. See Norway in a Nutshell.

Viking Saga in a Nutshell – As performed at Gudvangen Viking Market 2017

On the topic of tangential roles I have recently been asked to write a story to accompany every product on a Viking website.

My own blog keeps me busy with its various strings. This blog is part of the Storytelling is.. string. There is also a series of prose poems on the Gods and Goddesses. Plus another string on my many visits to Gudvangen; this set or series has recently been widened to include My Viking Dreamlife which mixes reality with myth and folklore.

The roles and off shoots I have described are the main elements defining the Skald in a timeless way through the needs of the community. As it must be so shall it be and so shall it always be in the before.

And that I show I ended up with a blood brother and living in a little hut next door.

 

 

 

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

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)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

 

 

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Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

Skaldic Kennings for our Chieftain

A film team from France were creating a documentary about the Cheiftain of the Viking town in Gudvangen, Norway and I was asked to write a poem in my role as skald to be part of the film…

Njardar Viking Town

Look around

What brings you here?

Dream-creator

World-shaker

Love-bringer

History-maker

Community-seer

Remove-fear

Happen-here

Team-steer

Freedom-father

Gudvangen-leader

Gift-sharer

All-carer

Past-weaver

Peace-caster

Doubt-killer

Hert-filler

Originator

Let love and growth sustain

All because of

Our Chieftain

A man who has no power

And no official role

Who makes things happen by the hour

And gives this place its soul

Let me say it here again

May your gods be thanked for

Our Chieftain.

 

AS

 

 

 

 

 

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

 

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

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)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

Storytelling is… #9 In A Circle

Gathering in a circle with the theme of stories is more ancient than we would generally imagine and yet is totally relevant.

Circles as part of a festival can be mainly a safe environment for people to listen and to input to a degree. A safe environment to share with the storyteller. So the element of being a show continues somewhat. This kind of environment tends to attract young adults and teens although does work for all ages.

Indeed single people who are not always confident at going out on a night or into bars will be attracted to such circles as something they feel happy within.

There is always the opportunity to share and sooner or later most people do. There is no better time for a circle than after a workshop or series of workshops. It is something to work towards. Somewhere to celebrate.

Circles empower and give confidence.

As well as working towards a solo performance at a circle there is the opportunity to share group work.

The Yggdrasil chorus with taking turns to epitomise elements of the worlds is a good example.

As is a multinational story where everyone translates into their own language a line at a time; always goes down great.

A story in the round from prompts can be great fun.

A trigger phrase also is good IE “I am that Viking who…” (fill in the gap) – “and I…” People can always pick up on it when they are ready.

I am often told I am a great teacher and when I question they say I teach by example. My storytelling is stimulating, my approach is encouraging.

Having an expectation of those around you can lead to miracles.

Here we have a safe environment not only for telling a tale but for discussion. A great place for feedback; both ways.

Suggestions can be made.

Ideas can be practiced.

Discussion prompted by a circle often leads to the group working together to help each other.

I usually start off with a batch of stories before developing the circle further.

 

As with shows, lectures, workshops the circle part of the package empowers the individual; to feel better about their skills, to better understand the process and to be more able to tell.

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

 

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques

Welcome to the workshops.

We shall be chopping stories up. Following on from the ‘knowing’ comic strip, (displayed on the wall), we can look at the idea of gradually working away from scripts to a far more free-flow approach where important elements come to the fore.

There, that is all you need to know, goodbye – oh no I’ve already done that gag.

 

S.T.O.R.Y. shall be displayed for discussion, and possibly for a rewrite.

Story is to stare at

Traditional told anew

Oral always, abandon all scripts

Reinvent eventually through practicing live

You should be the centre of attention yet forgotten altogether

 

There that is all you need to know – Oh gosh this theme has become really repetitive.

Let us look at story breakdown.

 

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques Subsection #8b The Breakdowns

(Scroll down to see full details of many.)

Here are some tales…

A Survival Tale – Bamboo Girl – Brynhildr Sleeps – Cinderella – Creation – Hansel and Gretel – Old Eater – Hare and the Tortoise – Loki’s Daughter – One Thousand and One Nights – Rocky and Bullwinkle Meet the Mermaid (based on the talking fish) – Sigurdr Falls in Love – Statue Boy – The Bones of the Mother – The Selfish Giant – The Sumerian Tale of a Giant – Viking Sea Travel Issues.

They are below you.

Go scroll down and be back, but rest assured you have just played the breakdown game.

You are back.

You may wish to work out the stories from the snippets as an interlude.

There comes a point where you don’t need this mini script but you may still have places where you falter so you need notes as reminders of these points you find tricky.

Then eventually you need no notes.

Then you don’t need to decide which story to tell until you stand up.

You may even start to weave between tales as you go.

A prompt is always good ie Rebecca’s Babe (it is a title really) – you are building a set list and you may add essentials as a footnote ie 1411 St Marys.

Rebecca’s Babe (1411 St Marys) – Go tell.

We are talking storytelling not Snorri repetition – thanks to all you folklore documenters in one big lump, (especially the female Irish slaves employed as scribes in Iceland), thank you all of you, (often vicars for some reason), fairies and trolls only exist because of you.

Creating the tale from its pieces is still traditional – no, it is even more traditional.

We are the tellers.

(BTW We say full stop in the UK where in the US you say period, period might fit better here.)

We need to get it into our heads that there are elements which have to be fitted in. That is all really.

And then practice.

Now juggle.

Let us take those vital elements of those particular stories and juggle.

Let us deal out a share and seek to create a story of them.

Let us add in our own stories as breakdown (scribbling during a coffee break).

These can be from a wild selection of areas and types.

Think of stories you are familiar with.

Consider the idea of key points and make a list.

Let us add them to the pile.

We are creating the now.

From the then.

So, once they are shuffled and dealt and we all have a few in our hands it is time to create story.

Move them about while you think, (ask to swap one if you are stuck), work out an idea for a tale. Then tell your tale to a colleague.

Once practiced it is time to share, if we feel really confident the listener tells the tale they have just heard on behalf of the creator.

 

Tell me about children. Anything which come sot mind; habits, quirks, feelings, characteristics, choices: anything.

Now pick a few of these and apply them to adult Vikings.

You have a story.

IE Jealousy is very different thing if it is regards a powerful woman with a spearhead hidden in her cloak

Holding hands can conjure up all sorts of possibilities.

Children what are they like!

Be long and slow in your considerations of what your topic needs and fluid and witty in your storytelling

I also shall create a set of prompt cards, similar to the Ales and Tales ones found through the links blog but specific to our topic.

I carry a treasure chest of tiny things to use as prompts always, these make a fun change.

We can also use the snippets to create a group story.

Pull one at random – start a story – then let someone else go along with it – this is for fun – but also releases the imagination.

Often when I do a storytelling show I have different groups attending. It is good to get them together afterwards and have one group tell the other one of my stories.

This works even if you have already heard it because it comes out quite different.

Scripting. OK you might have written a story, or written something down, or written a script I add. I admit I have. Take out the elements and use these to tell. Allow it to break away from its rigidity.

We all have faults and failings. I say play to your failings. I know it is more usual to say to play to your strengths and yes that works too. We have our failings with us and it is them which need playing to. To be aware of where we might go wrong and think of strategies to deflect or prevent. This is mainly to get rid of the anxiety which can come with concern about faults. My big failing is names, I struggle to remember names and or numbers; let’s be honest, I am rubbish at facts. I found I relaxed into telling a lot more once I had realised. Once I had given myself permission. If I could say ‘his son’ – ‘her lover’ and get around the forgetting of a name it helped me relax. It helped me relax to the degree that I probably remembered the name, because the pressure was off.

I allow myself not to be perfect every time.

It was the start of my realising each telling is unique.

Areas which were issues when I first started; all in one tone, not using voices for characters, digressing and losing track as a result.

Describing characters, places or situations without using their name is an interesting exercise. I shall supply a list of suggestions and ask participants to add to the list. Not as a trick or puzzle but with obvious ways of describing so we know who or what it is. This helps with descriptiveness.

Experiments with use of space and ways of moving follow on nicely here.

Dream you have done it – come back tomorrow.

I have always found that performance example inspires and encourages people so will refer people to my storytelling show and look for reaction and discussion. Help us find out why we are here and to self help us into improving.

“I am that Viking who…” (fill in the gap)– “and I…” – This is a good one to throw in to a story share. So people can pick up on it when they are ready.

What is a skald? – imagine you are a chieftain – what do you want from me? We piece together an image and then seek to fulfil it.

You are not a strong brave important warrior or leader, you are other than this, imagine yourself as a less dynamic character, perhaps limited in some way and then consider how you would fit in. Tell us of life on that farm.

We are Yggdrasil and all is gathered within our growth. Then each person personifies a place, character, situation, creature etc; I am wolf. Then repeat the chorus piece and so on. A good one to practice for a group performance.

Creating this blog allows the reader to consider which elements would be most helpful to them so we can shape the workshops between us to best suit our needs.

 

Storytelling is… #8 The Techniques Subsection #8b The Breakdowns

 

Warning these story breakdowns are spoilers!

A deity can tire of endless perfection – desire to be human – wear a swanskin and fly to Midgard – Strip and swim naked and mortal – A man recognised her, took her skin as blackmail – Make my side win, she did – As she set off to fly home Odin cursed her – ‘Sleep a loveless sleep for ever’.

A huge downpour – God asked Noah to build an Ark – Take two of everything – Noah called and they all came – the unicorn were all playing in the puddles – they missed the call.

Big storm – Fishing boats turns upside down – all drown – except the chef he is clinging to the upside down toilet – dark with a bit of air, fish start to bite – he swims down to the ceiling and pulls out some of its boards – he floats on the boards for five days in the dark upside down galley – there is a knock on the hull.

Eater down by Tongue River, of the Cheyenne – Caught one of his horses – as he rode away, one was missing, Grey Face! – He rode all day looking – Upon his return his wife hears his tale and says you are riding Grey Face.

Jack’s mother says nothing will grow, us and the cow will starve – Go to market and sell the cow – He comes back with five beans she throws them out in disgust – Jack climbs the beanstalk that grows – in the giant’s castle are a hen that lays gold eggs and a harp which plays – he steals them – then he chops down the beanstalk as the giant is coming.

Loki falls for Angraboda and sees her without his wife knowing – They have three monster children , one is Hel – The gods come to dispose of them – Hel is half beautiful and half rotten – they throw her down the long drop of the dead – She rules the underworld – Her dead servants are building a ship so she can bring an army to Ragnarok.

New step mother is cruel – They overhear plans to dump them in the forest – Sneaking out they collect stones to later mark their way back with – Upon return they again hear plans but the door is locked so they keep the bread from supper – Birds eat the bread crumb trail – They are lured into a gingerbread cottage – She must work to fatten up her brother – She pushes the witch into the oven – Step mother is also dead or gone when they return so all is happy.

Poor fisherman catches mermaid – agrees to release – wife cross makes him go back – grant me a wish of a palace – she keeps making him go back for more – ‘queen’ then, eventually, ‘Goddess?’ – Mermaid asks what he wants and he just wants to be happy like before – “Come in I am so proud of how neat I have got the hovel.”

Poor old bamboo cutter finds golden babe – They bring her up, finding gold to help – to city – many men propose – she falls for the young emperor – discs of warriors and a king appear in the sky – she has learnt her lesson and must return – her memory is wiped – as it fades she throws an eternal life potion so he can find her – he cannot bear forever without her – servant throws it for him – it hits Mount Fuji and burns

Shahryār is enraged when his wife goes with another – Every day he marries a new virgin and executes her the next morning – until there is only the vizier’s daughter left – Scheherazade tells a tale without and end (Tell half a tale) -The king postpones her execution – She finishes the tale and starts a new one each night (You do the same).

The Happy Prince was a gold-leaved statue with sapphires for eyes and a ruby as a sword hilt – A swallows love for a reed make shim miss migration time so he befriends the statue – The once happy prince can see the city now he is dead and feels sorrow – A poor woman cannot buy her poorly son oranges – Statue bids bird to take his ruby – More sad cases until all the gold leaf has gone – Then one of his eyes and then the other – Perhaps when the swallow dies they will be reunited in the meadows of heaven.

There was nothing – in the nothing was ice and fire – fire melts ice old muck comes out – Muck makes Imir – A giant cow floats by dripping milk – Imir drinks – the cow is hungry so licks salt from the ice – Buri forms from the ice – Imir’s angry sweat forms into more giants – the earth’s first beings were giants (and a cow).

We fear as we travel the seas – Ask Njord for help – Ran under the sea sends her nine daughter – They are the waves – Ran throws her net to catch drowning sailors – they will entertain her – Call to Njord, Call to Njord.

Young warrior has killed a dragon – he has gold and a ring (the ring is cursed) – ahead a mountain-top tower shrouded in flames – He rides fast and his horse leaps – A naked woman sleeps – He dismounts and kisses her – It is love – He puts the cursed ring upon her finger.

Zeus gets angry with humans, yet again – big flood – Deucalion builds a big floating box for him and his wife Pyrrha – they land on Parnassus – floods go – Oracle Themis says throw the bones of the mother behind you – so they throw stones over their heads – the stones turn to people.

 

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

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)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

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Quote from John Thor Ewing

“It has been a while since I’ve done a “storytelling” show as such, although I still use stories in performances. My own style was always to cut through to “the story itself” as quickly as possible and, although of course I always adapted both wittingly and unwittingly, I always felt that I was telling it “straight”. So, I don’t think I could ever do what you do, which seems to deconstruct the idea of storytelling, as if Chaucer or Bocaccio had decided to concentrate on the storytellers rather than the stories – in my mind, it shouldn’t work and, although I know that you can make it persuasive, thought-provoking and entertaining, I have no idea how you do it. Which is a roundabout way of saying that I really don’t feel I have anything valid to say about this, but I have confidence in your abilities.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

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)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

Storytelling is… #11 The Poem

 

Storytelling is…

 

Holding the attention

Making everyone feel four again

Embracing culture, heritage, nature

Embracing.

Ritual, history, memory, family, conversation

Reinventing without losing

Creating from what we have

Cherishing

Establishing, guiding, nurturing, directing

A magical, empowering, captivating,

breath taking, energising experience

Nothing new, ancient always

That which was, in the now,

in a new and old way all at once

Forever respectful

Universal, singular, local, specific, worldly, oral

Perfect yet fluid

 

Sit down at the metaphorical fireside

You, are a storyteller

 

 

Adrian Spendlow

 

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

Storytelling is… #10 The Links

 

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Storytelling is… #10 The Links

LH – Living History characterisation tips for re-enactors – My most viewed blog.

A modern continuation of the Viking mythos, I scribble, artists from all over the world replace my images – The Hammer FliesOski and the AmuletThe Horned God and the Wild Hunt

Facts and Fiction storytelling magazine – I am grateful for so much from this by post magazine – in particular the Storytelling is.. poem is published there – The comic strip too.

I cannot wait to get to this amazing festival to perform…NHhorizontalheadline

http://hostfest.com/ – https://www.hostfest.com/experience/viking-village/

I am also looking forward to going on from there to University of Wisconsin Green Bay where I will be lecturing, running workshops and storytelling in their Viking longhouse. https://www.uwgb.edu/viking-house/

I have written prose poems and travelogue pieces as Skald to the Chieftain  click here for the beginning of the series and then click ‘Next in the current series’ on each of the 26 blogs on the topic!  The start of the skaldic writing links

I was commissioned to create an ‘It happened to me’ performance for school children attending Cliffords Tower on the effects of the Normans. Click here to enjoy the blog which is written in the style it was performed.

Under the wing of Viking Comics Inc. comes the quirky series OldMan Comics, here is a link to one of those where I actually change the course of the battle at Hastings, (oooops sorry OldMan does).

I actually am Hobb the Pig-man, originally created for a commission for Barley Hall in York ‘he’ tells tales from a medieval point of view. ‘He’ has also worked on many projects for Scarborough’s Create and here is a project created for the Fossil Festival. Fossils? Yes cos it is Hobb. Hobb the Pig-man, he has also been Hobb the Night-guard and here he is as Hobb the plough boy.

A big thank you to actor Graham Scarisbrick for voicing this piece from my, soon to be released, audio play – The Boat Rises – Click below to hear A Viking Trojan Horse…

 

 

 

Actor Donna Jones, (for those of you who know her, aka Donna Kitching), voices here, the possibly, first ever documentation of a UFO encounter, (of the third kind), in a six-thousand-year-old folk tale; The Bamboo Babe.

 

 

 

 

One of the most interesting jobs I’ve been given was to be paid to sit in pubs listening to people telling me stories. Hundreds of fascinating stories came from the experience, you can read them here.

The main tool I used to stimulate anecdotes was a set of prompt cards. You can see those prompts here.

I am always pleased to be able to work with Alda and to promote her music. Here is a link to her single A Real Good Time.

And of course her sister’s company SigRun Viking Art & Design.

The three of us together produced Alda’s Rock Opera Gods Bless Ya!

For my multinational stories I reduce a popular story to a few lines so those of many countries can help tell the sagas in a nutshell.

One of the roles of the Skald is to host Opening Ceremonies.

 

The Series…

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

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)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 3 Being Skaldic

 

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

 

Storytelling is… #12 The Skald

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)

Storytelling is… #3 The Bio

Storytelling is… #2 The Show

Storytelling is… #1 Show intro

red hat

 

Storytelling is… #7 The Spendlow Lectures Part 2 Being Skaldic

You are a storyteller of great renown – it has been posited and it will be so

(If anyone can think of a way of describing my pontifications I would love to hear.)

There are proud moments though.

(You should strive to posit so, it may even be an expected role of the storyteller.)

Think.

Embrace.

Story.

Proud moments yes.

Odin was a giant.

He sought power.

He was Borrsson.

The All-father thing. It is all timeless and mixed up. This is the gods, they can be from whenever they wish.

One of the Vanir wasn’t even born when he turned up at the God-swap with the Aesir.

These are the things which I think in the dark of the night and these are the things I fit into my stories. Think of things for yourself, these are your things.

Those proud moments.

There on the tee vee is a pal of mine. He is telling the world of how his team of archaeologists have definitely recovered the bodies of Roman-age York-based gladiators. Next thing I know he is calling ‘hi’ across the street and I am going to him to thank him for a great presentation. They are hoping to find the arena so I commented that many Roman features were still around when the Vikings arrived; they commented on the roads, they will have utilised bathhouses and a temple as a palace. If there had been an arena they would have used it as their all-ting (circular government). He looked really excited at this and said when they find it the first thing he is going to do is look for Viking-age items.

Another archaeologist friend was very interested in my thoughts on Lindisfarne. I had picked up a tourist guide and saw it mention the 1500 Scottish Border Report which stated there was a large hidden natural harbour which could house a whole fleet as it prepares to invade. I pointed out that if it could hold ships then it could hold long ships and perhaps the Vikings hadn’t just raided the monastery they had set up camp there to do raids of the mainland. The next thing I know my friend has promoted a talk on a whole new look at the Vikings on Lindisfarne.

Proud moments yes, new lines of thinking too.

Adaptability is important. Places and events want storytellers. They have a theme or a period of time. You get some strange requests. So one needs to put stories and elements of stories together. A fitting set list.

The composite – the gathering of the information and the melding into one tale.

This can be a string of known tales but once you have researched the topic (within your own know how as well as in your sources) you may well have a collection of snippets and so. Folklore, history, characters. The most common way I weave these together is in an ‘It happened to me’ style. This works well in performance and allows one to ‘hide’ behind a persona. It is easier to act things out if you are a character.

You will need a fitting costume however.

Or at least a hat. Perhaps a few.

The sagas are bitty, the myths especially so. Partly due to being patched together from many sources and partly due to being frozen in time. I love a good index. Kevin Crossley-Holland comes to mind. His work on myths is a good source.

By working through all the references to a particular character or topic within the index you can piece together a fuller picture. Then you can see ways to tell. Stories leap out of your research and juxtapositioning. All new and always.

Vikings: We only have so much material and it is laid out in a certain way and we need to explore what we can do with it.

We can try and reach back to the teller of the time and try to gain their skills by studying thoughts of their motivations.

Let us look at their whole empire, the stories from it all are often hidden within the myths.

Let’s see what can be dug up.

I don’t sing. I don’t play an instrument (except the cave harp). I love to work with music. It changes everything. And with singers too. Melding my stories and prose poems in with their ballads etc.

In the Gods Bless Ya! show my stories set the scene for the songs of Alda Raven and I seek to fill in any gaps in the flow of narrative. I also perform her words (yes, I admit to the use of a script!). SigRun Viking Art & Design create the costumes and supply the models to be the goddesses, part of my job is to create a narrative to accompany them; to get the timing right and to direct their actions subtly.

Thus are stories dramatized.

We can take part together and play roles and allocate parts.

Re-enactment groups post up a story and say who would play which part? IE The priest was very angry about this and stormed off to the sea captain. The sea captain agreed a fee to ferry him and waved him aboard his ship bound for Normandy. You volunteer and you go along. Except for the odd word or two shouted from the field it is crowd scene acting with a narrator over the tannoy.

The ways the storyteller can be utilised, the roles expected, bring me to the idea of the skald.

I haven’t so much looked at the history of the Skald, as at the necessity of the Skald, by being one.

I have looked at skaldic verse with its beats and echoes and, of course, the kennings. It is believed that they were written in such a way you would not fully understand on the first listening, but then the Skald would tell the stories which are referred to in their poetry and then read the piece again. That way on the second listening the audience would understand.

As modern-day Skald to the Chieftain I have many roles, as we are seeking to echo Viking-age life as clearly as possible. I write praise poems for my chieftain and to mark occasions.

Practicality leads one towards storytelling and uses those skills as part of the needs of an occasion.

Leading parades with my chieftain. Opening festivals, markets and events. Collating other performers and introducing them along with course leaders etc. Acting as presenter at events and as entertainer at feasts.

Providing performance opportunities for members of courses and circles. Creating group dramas.

I find that circles draw in teenagers and young adults more than any other age which is very refreshing, they have seen the shows and want to experience more.

Getting others involved can be great fun. The walk by at opening ceremonies has caused great fun. As I talk of leather working classes a glamourous presentation of their produce parades back and forth in front of me. When I announced the timber has arrived for the new constructions two men with a plank hanging down between their legs groan their way across the arena. People clamour to take part with ideas of how to promote their activity. As I say, “Visitors are invited to take part in the Glima at their own risk,“ a huge wrestler whistles as he carries a ‘dead’ body.

The multi-national stories go down far better than I ever expected they would. I strip a saga down to a few dramatic sentences and then invite people of different nationalities or dialects to stand alongside me and translate one after the other. Great fun seeing them all acting it all out.

It is always an honour to be asked to take part in a ceremony; be it a naming day, a wedding, or an event blessing. I may accompany my chieftain’s activities with a relevant poem or tale. I might utilise the mead horn, statues, a mirror bowl, the chanter’s chair or the threads of the Norns.

One ancient tradition which must be respected is to do what the participants wish.

I am reminded of the words of Jane Harrison in Ancient Art and Ritual where she talks of the 1 2 3 of existence. The one being you. The two is you and the world and the three is: you perceiving the world, the world effecting you and you reacting to that. We are destined to perform ritual.

So, what is a Skald – imagine you are a chieftain – what do you want from me?

And so to my greatest powers; example and expectation. As simple as that, my work is inspiring and I have an expectation that you will be involved and develop.

You will grow and be

I am not an academic, I am not a reenactor, I not even a Viking if I am truthful; I am a storyteller. I seek to be true to the past I am part of and I seek to be very very good. I give you part of what I am and I ask you to be ready.

As we are drawing to the close of this section of the series I would remind of story points; you can’t do a story unless you have them. Slot them in a row in your mind and you are ready.

The next section of this series will be the feature on techniques. For groups and those intending to join one of my groups I would suggest the techniques section is looked upon as a hand out, a guide, to help empower you so you can help shape the sessions.

As for endings, look at some of ‘my’ endings. I lean towards throw away, I am not very strong on morals if you see what I mean and I find punch-line type endings take away from the believability.

As we draw to a close on the lecture and move on to the techniques section it is best to reiterate; I have always found that performance example inspires and encourages people.

To summarise my personal feelings, ‘Oh no I am going to have to learn all of this.’