Posts about storytelling, landscape and culture with a focus on Welsh material and places. Mostly by me but also featuring plenty of guest posts and interviews.

Andy Johnson - Bleddfa Storyteller

Andy Johnson, someone who knows Bleddfa and its storytelling courses well, tells us something of his storytelling journey in this, the third so far in the series of posts by those who have attended courses at Bleddfa. MH

Michael Harvey storyteller blog - Andy Johnson

My storytelling journey started in March 2012 when I attended a 5 Rhythms Dancing retreat in Tal Y Bont, near Conway. One evening I was sitting with others in the lounge when some people started a singalong. There was a Scottish storyteller, Mags Smith, who said she would also tell a story but needed a few moments to sort it out. At that point a voice in my head said “Andy, why don’t you tell a story?”, as I had worked as a librarian all my working life & knew two stories I could tell.  I told one of them. People liked it & Mags came over and stated talking storytelling with me. This pleased me as I was looking for an interesting direction to take as the previous year I had taken a redundancy & retirement deal from Liverpool City Council. When I got home I googled ‘storytelling’ and top of the list was the Society of Storytelling which I knew about from my library days. There I found information about clubs, festivals and courses. All of which I have since explored.

I went to Liverpool’s ‘Mouth of the Mersey’ where I was welcomed as I had booked tellers from there for the library. Sadly it closed a few years later. However it encouraged me to find other clubs & places to tell. I’ve been to clubs in towns such as Altrincham, Sale, Sheffield, Stafford & Hebden Bridge, although varied they are always welcoming. I also started to go to open mics in pubs. The m.c.s often say they like the change of pace storytelling brings, musicians say it creates an atmosphere where people will listen not talk and I find it really hones the craft of telling as if you don’t draw in the audience in they will stop listening. People often are hearing storytelling for the first time & really like it. Plus a number of musicians I have met this way have set some of the stories I tell to music which is a real privilege.

Arncliffe open mic 2018.jpg

I love going to the festivals. The ones I have gone to so far are: Settle, Festival at the Edge and Beyond the Border. I was lucky to tell at the Club Mix stage at FatE in 2013 and love telling at the open stages in BtB.

Courses are great for meeting liked minded people, who often become supportive friends and they push forward the craft and art of telling. All the longer ones I have been to have been in beautiful settings - Halsey Manor in Devon; Cae Mabon in Snowdonia; Emerson College in Forest Row & Bleddfa in Mid Wales. I’ve been 3 times to Bleddfa and really like how the space is held, the chance to work with and listen to world class storytellers and tell stories to appreciative audiences.

Who knows where my storytelling will take me in the future but I’m really glad I took those first steps back in 2012.

Storytelling at Bleddfa happens every summer and this year includes three courses The Bleddfa Week of Storytelling and two intensive long weekends Freeing the Storyteller's Voice and the Performance Intensive.  Sign up and find out more by using the links in red or, if you would like more information, just drop me line.