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Migrant storytellers backed by new national programme

INSIGHT: Back row (L-R) Zahra Afsah, Phil Okwedy, JC, Jordan Campbell, Polis Loizou; Front row (L-R) Ian Wong, Stephanie Josephs and Lily Asch. Photo credit: Words of Colour

A NEW generation of emerging migrant storytellers are being championed by an innovative national training programme to transform the way stories are told under the topical theme of ‘Otherness and Hospitality’.

Nine talented candidates, selected from over 40 applicants, are to be developed by TellYours 2018, led by production agency FiloticoArts, one of the only professional storytelling training programmes in the UK.

Working with world-leading storyteller Daniel Morden, award-winning theatre director Jennifer Tang and arts producers Renaissance One and Counterpoint Arts, the storytellers will be encouraged to combine the language of myth and migration at a politically-charged time. A driver for the programme is to revitalise this powerful but underused, and under-resourced, art form.

The programme will run for five months and provide workshops centred on the craft of storytelling, voice work and theatre production, professional development sessions on career sustainability, directing, business development and marketing mentoring by industry leaders and two live showcases featuring the storytellers

Livia Filotico, founder of FiloticoArts, said: “A year after Brexit, racial and religious hate crime rose by 23 percent. Migrants and other communities are experiencing increasing abuse and ostracism. Against this backdrop, the word migrant is more than just moving ‘from one place to another’. Race, class, fear and cultural hegemony are all playing a part in the mainstream narrative and must be challenged. TellYours 2018 intends to interrogate these terms to find answers through new and original stories.”

PROSPECTS

Covering England, Scotland and Wales, and reflecting the cultural traditions of countries such as Nigeria, Iran, Hong Kong and Cyprus, the storytellers will reimagine and perform not only myths, folklore and fairy tales, but also ghost stories, epics, fantasy and sci-fi narratives from around the world.

The storytellers will also have access to theatre spaces such as Battersea Arts Centre and The Albany, where industry professionals will help them develop their overall performance to attract more diverse audiences.

Storyteller and children’s writer Daniel Morden, who was awarded the Hay Festival Medal 2017 for his contribution to storytelling, said: “The shortest distance between two people is a story. Now more than ever we need to hear each other's stories, to dispel prejudice, ignorance and nurture understanding. Storytelling is a grass roots, low-maintenance artform. All you need is silence, a story and a willing audience.”

Leading literature producer and founder of Tilt and Renaissance One Melanie Abrahams, added: “It is important for new voices to emerge in these times of increasing diversity. Many organisations and individuals are calling out for new voices, but there aren't always the means or structures to take this further beyond a roll call of new names. TellYours 2018 offers an intention to foster new storytelling voices to ensure that a quality range of stories and artists come to the fore.”

The nine TellYours 2018 storytellers will perform original work at two showcases at Canada Water culture space and Battersea Arts Centre in June 2018.

Join the conversation on social media using the official hashtag: #TellYours2018

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