From Storyteller Taffy Thomas

Taffy & Chrissy Thomas would like to thank all their storytelling
friends for all the congratulatory messages since the Laureate
announcement, and for all the messages of concern since the Cumbria
floods. Ta!

The Storytelling Laureate opens a discussion.
“The Era of the Sound-bite – Friend or Enemy?”

Since the honour of my appointment as the first national storyteller
laureate, I’ve been presented with some delightful challenges. Probably
the one most nearly out of my comfort zone has been dealing with the
media. A positive has been that radio and TV producers have been far
more interested in me telling a story than talking about storytelling.
They are then prone to saying they need a story of between 2 & 3
Minutes. Instinct is to stand on my dignity and announce that the
shortest I can do is 12-15 minutes or I’ll take my ball home. This
probably wouldn’t bother them in the least, and would be an opportunity
to introduce a new audience to storytelling lost. Instead, I pondered,
remembering my meeting in the 1960s with Ruth Tongue, probably the
finest storyteller in the English tradition. She chose to tell me “Two
Men Hoeing Turnips” and “Tib’s Cat”, each of them a full and
perfectly constructed story of only about 2 minutes’ length. So
instead of declining, I gripped the nettle and considered which of my
favourite stories I could do justice to in such a short span (a short
time to me, but a longish slot in the world of radio or TV). Compromises
have to be made. Admittedly with pruning, the one thing that does go is
some of the richer and more poetic language. However, a crisper and more
declamatory style merely reflects the way of the old mummers, and of
street tellers such as the late Nathaniel of Wessex.

Anyway, my brief rendition of “The Clever Wish” on BBC Radio Four’s
“Today” (2nd November) produced a wealth of emails and phone calls,
many of which revealed it was the callers’ first meeting with our
storytelling world. It also led to two subsequent television pieces on
ITV Border and BBC “Look North”, each with a different “2 minute
story”. Amazingly the week following saw two live pieces on the
national Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, so I feel the compromise was
worthwhile and can only hope my friends and fellow tellers, after
considering the choice, would agree. The man from the BBC pointed out
that “Today” had allowed me a longer uninterrupted speech than any
politician on that programme.

Taffy Thomas
November 2009


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One Response to From Storyteller Taffy Thomas

  1. Richard Berry says:

    Taffy will be in Cardiff in February 2012 . More info soon.

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