Mythstories endeavour to emerge into a Post Covid world.

At a live storytelling, audience members actively engage their imaginations becoming co-creators. Can on-line viewers become active listeners and experience the essence of a storytelling performance, retaining their ability to build unique pictures in their heads?

That was the question we felt we needed to answer to ensure storytelling was able to show its uniqueness when let loose in purely digital formats. And that’s how we framed our latest project Wise Words in Wild Places to explore three different approaches to coupling audio storytelling with images that would ignite the imaginations rather than do all the work for them.

We recruited a team. Shropshire has a wealth of stories and a ‘blessing’ of storytellers. We found a well-respected film making team, Piece Of String Media, and enlisted Andrew Howe, a visual artist, to design leaflets that would shine out from the crowded leaflet holders and carousels in libraries and tourist information points. And then we were lucky enough to enthuse storyteller Clare Murphy and she in turn inspired a young and immensely talented animator, Neda Ahmadi.

So the big plan was to create ten films of site-specific stories. The storytellers would be responsible for the sound tracks. For the first five South Shropshire stories the film-makers would go to the site and film the journey from the carpark to the spot chosen by the storyteller to tell the tale, and then leave the camera rolling. Like an exercise in slow tv providing a backdrop for the story to unfold. For the next four North Shropshire stories the film-makers would use archive images, maps and photos of the sites to create the stories’ landscapes. And for the final North Shropshire story Neda would create an abstract animation to accompany Clare Murphy’s version of a Llanymynech fairy story.

The ten films will be advertised on the leaflets, to encourage people out again to enjoy life and storytelling post-Covid.

We began by enlisting the help of Shropshire Council, whose Outdoor Partnership are providing the expertise on the sites and who have generously given us an Arts Grant to support the project. Then while we were drawing up the application to the Arts Council we came across Energize – who were looking to encourage people to exercise safely in the open air after weeks of Covid-induced inactivity. This inspired us to grow the project by including socially-distanced storywalks on six of the sites.

On those walks we will ask participants to sketch their own creative responses to stories proving each individual has their own individual visions of the tales being told. It’s what makes storytelling unique; allowing the audience to explore their own creativity in partnership with the teller and we hope the sketches will demonstrate this.

And, for good measure, we have been able to commission an artist to do a skech-pad evaluation of the whole project. His work will be exhibited in the local library at the end of the year, together with some of the participants work.

With match-funding from both the Council and Energize the Arts Council were happy to provide the rest of the funds we needed to realise the plan. Work has already begun. With the help of the Shropshire Hills AONB we have selected the first five sites and we are eagerly awaiting to hear the stories that our fabulously talented local tellers (Amy Douglas, Jake Evans, Simon Martin, Suzanne Thomas and Sal Tonge) will create.

Shropshire Council
Arts Council England Lottery Funding