Remembrance of Lost Species

Posted: December 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | No Comments »

Last week, I was involved in a special night of remembrance for extinct species, along with the wonderful Nancy Kerr and Sarah Smout. It was a part (albeit slightly late) of the now international event, initiated by ONCA.

It is a gift in my work to occasionally get to do things that feel incredibly important – that step outside the normal remit of performance and become something timely and meaningful. Our night was full of song, story and ritual elements, all against the backdrops created by the event organiser and craft guru Abi Nielsen.

Sarah Smout on cello, Nancy Kerr on fiddle, Tim Ralphs reading a long list of extinct species.

Sarah Smout on cello, Nancy Kerr on fiddle, Tim Ralphs reading a long list of extinct species.


It was a powerful evening, and I thought I’d include here the text of the communion I wrote and read before we broke and shared bread.

Welcome back
Hello and welcome back. I hope you’re all feeling refreshed and settled and ready for more. We’re going to start with a short ritual, a breaking and sharing of bread, and I will say a few words to acknowledge why we are here tonight. I want to apologise in advance to the gluten intolerant here with us – and invite you to participate in whatever way feels appropriate.

Address
We choose this symbol of breaking bread and partaking in a communion together because of the ancient ritual associations that permeate it. Beyond the Jewish and Christian connotations, the idea of sharing bread runs through our culture and our language. In Aramaic, the word for “friend” is “balinjeera”, one with whom we share bread. In English, “companion”, from the latin words for togetherness and bread. But I want us to recognise that here today this act has its own meaning, it is a new and radical communion.

In the Ascent of Man, Bronowski argued that the history of human civilisation was the history of our relationship with wheat. For the hundreds of thousands of years that humanity has been in existence, we have been in a dance with this planet. Living on it and with it, guided and shaped by the land, the weather, the movements and lives of other species. But with the domestication of wheat there came a shift in the balance of that dance. Where once we had been followers, now we were the leader. Now we would shape the earth, toil and sweat in the dust to make the ground bring forth the crops we planted.

And I don’t condemn human beings in our desire to impose our own vision upon the land – this is, as I said, the basis of civilisation. But the time has come to recognise that in this dance, our steps have been clumsy, that we have twirled this planet wildly, cruelly. Dangerously.

There is nothing new in extinction.

Let me say that again – there is nothing new in extinction. The lifetime of all species on this planet is ultimately finite, a macrocosmic reflection of the mortality of each individual life. Species have risen and fallen before, sometimes in isolated incidents, sometimes in seemingly great, mass die-offs.

We are now in what archaeologists, palaeontologists recognise as the sixth period of mass extinction that this planet has faced. All this has happened before and will happen again. The only difference this time is that we, human beings, have lead and pushed and guided the course of our planet, our environment, into this time of death.
And there is a question, a burning question around what we should do next. Around how we should change. How we can fix this. I say, leave that until tomorrow. For now, let us join together as a human community. Let us recognise those species that have departed with a profound empathy, shared partners in the great dance of life. Let us acknowledge our animal bodies, still very much dependent on the bounty of the Earth to grow and thrive.

Breaking of bread
I invite you to take a few moments of silence. To reflect on whatever powers you hold to be important, whether that is the God of your understanding, the magnificence of the natural world, the glory of our shared humanity. I offer up this loaf of bread. It is the bounty of the Earth, our home. It is born from the light of the sun, watered by the gentle caress of rain. It is the labour of human hands.

As we eat it, may we be nourished. May we remember our place, our connectedness. May our hearts be open.

May it become, for us, the bread of life.

And so it is.


And we'll stand beside the shore.

And we’ll stand beside the shore.



Audience Comments from Birmingham Storyelling Cafe

Posted: May 25th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The fine folks at Birmingham Storytelling Cafe had me along to tell stories from my show How to Spin Enchantment. Here’s some of the audience feedback, I’m particularly impressed by the poetry:

9/10 a very good night,
laughter, wit and the occasional fright,
We’ll come see you again,
every now and then,
unless there’s a defined schedule or something.

The night was splendid
It was a shame it ended
But I guess it must

Whispered stories

What a feat of endurance! Brilliant 25 stories in one!

What a joyful gallop through a gaggle of lovely Italian stories.

Someone pay this man more money! Not only is he a brilliant storyteller, but he needs money for SHOES! Bare feet? How? My feet are frozen!!!

Enthralling

What a brilliant storyteller Tim is. Most enjoyable evening once again. Love your stories.

Fantastical stories within stories. A most enjoyable young man.

First time here. Great stories tonight. Thank you for a great night.

My first experience of storytelling. I enjoyed the twist and adventures in each story. Quite humorous and very charismatic.

Tales of wit and great imagery – a joyful performance!

Absolutely brilliant.

Brilliantly told, a masterful performance. Very entertaining.

Wonderful story, shame your hair wasn’t RED! (Tim says: This is a reference to the posters, which showed me as having the most magnificent shade of auburn hair.)

Absolutely fabulous! Great stories!

Wonderful evening, our best evening yet and we’ve been to a few…

A very enjoyable evening. The stories were enchanting and entertaining. Thank you for sharing.


Reviews and comments for recent gigs

Posted: April 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

My performance of Can the Mountains Love the Sea? got a review by A Small Mind.

“An excellent night.” * * * *

Read the full review here.

I also got these kind words from some Viking reinactors who came along:

“What a great experience this was! My friend J~ and I were completely enthralled by your enchantment and sheer professionalism. This was storytelling at its best and we were truly privileged to have witnessed it.

Not one single word was wasted. The pacing was spot-on. The characterisation was vivid and varied. You were totally absorbed ‘in the moment’ of the story, as was your audience. You made mythology live and breath…”

- the wannabe Vikings!

~ ~ ~

And some great audience comments from my performance of Jonathan and David at Night of the Storyteller. (All comments used with permission.)

“A few centuries ago listeners might have found the intimacy between David and Jonathon unsettling, but not have baulked at the violent massacre of the Amalekites. Now our sensitivities are reversed, but it is a credit to Tim Ralphs’ telling that he does not flinch at nor soft-pedal the difficult parts of this story. The show that results is touching and tender, rich and many-layered. A paean to love, friendship, and promise-keeping.”

Sarah Rundle, Storyteller

“I thought your performance at The Miller was beautiful! I loved the multiple narratives, juxtaposition and how many layers there were. Deftly, discretely & generously done (because you never demanded we think any particular thing). Congratulations!”

Giles Abbott, Storyteller

“Thank you for last night’s performance which I found profoundly moving. There are scenes which, although understated in your telling, remain vividly etched in my consciousness – the deeply human interaction between Saul and the Witch of Endor, for instance, to name just one.

Your subtle and deeply respectful crafting of links between Bible story and Life story created a rich tapestry which brought the spinning of story, and the fabric of life to life, a subtle veil through which you facilitated the potential to get a glimpse of the ineffable.

The formal musical framing device you used was masterful.

You are truly breaking new ground in the form.”

Leon Conrad, Voice Specialist


Beeston Tales

Posted: April 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »

Hi there! This is a little post about Beeston Tales, a monthly storytelling night that meets in the upstairs room of The White Lion. It is a club dedicated to the vibrant and ancient art of storytelling. Hosted by Tim Ralphs and Mike Payton the club features themed nights, showcases up and coming local tellers, invites renowned guests from around the world, includes musical spots and much more.

There is a hypnotic feel to the tales: you’re back round that prehistoric campfire again, rapt.
– Matt Turpin, LeftLion. (Read full review.)

Your hosts Tim and Mike

You can get cheap advance tickets here or from The White itself. You can also contact The White Lion about a special “tapas and tales” ticket which gets you a meal with your evening of storytelling. The “Tales and Tapas” ticket is only available directly from The White Lion. Note that there’s free parking at The White Lion as long as you’re a customer, but it can be in short supply!

Our storytelling events start at 7.30pm. You can buy tickets on the door for £6, or get them here now for only £5. Here’s what’s coming up soon:

14th June ~ “Enid and Geraint” ~ Cath Little

Resonant story, beautifully and simply told. Cambridge Storytelling Club

The sublime Cath Little brings you an enchanting retelling of this old British wonder tale from the Court of Arthur and Gwenhwyfar at Caerleon.







The Room Behind the Bookcase ~ Episode 5 ~ The Four Chambers of the Heart

Posted: March 31st, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Podcast | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Click here to listen!

Or subscribe with Feedburner.

This podcast features Clare Murphy and was recorded by Tom Donegan of The Story Museum.

The intro music was from Hymir’s Maidens used you as a trough by Prometheus Project. The outro music taken from Death Jig by Sharron Kraus.


Jonathan and David at The Miller

Posted: March 27th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’m very happy to announce that I’ll be telling my version of Jonathan and David as part of Tailspin’s Night of the Storyteller.

The chosen people cry out for a King. An aged Prophet looks at his sons and knows they are unworthy. And God knits the souls of two young men together, binding them in a love that will rip apart families and stain the hills with blood.

Mixing biblical sacred love with stories from the lives of gay people of faith, join Tim Ralphs as he asks some questions about the divine nature of sexuality.

This is a show that I originally developed for Hidden Perspectives as part of their 2013 Festival. I interviewed gay and lesbian people of faith, including trainee ministers, listened to their sexual and religious stories, and then wove them across the incredible narrative that is Jonathan and David. I was deeply humbled by their openness and by how powerfully their words resonated with the ancient text.

On 16 April 2015, I’ll be performing the show at The Miller, Snowfields Road, London Bridge. Show starts at 7.30pm Tickets are £7 on the door, with money off for cyclists. It’s going to be a great night of stories and music, and it would be grand if you were there.

Night of the Storyteller

Night of The Storyteller


Fringe Guru reviews Rebranding Beelzebub.

Posted: August 18th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Lizzie Bell from Fringe Guru reviewed Rebranding Beelzebub and gave it a big, fat four stars.

“This is a funny, cleverly-done show that is very much worth seeing: one that will delight, amuse and surprise you by turns. It’s a highly entertaining hour with a top-rate storyteller. If you enjoy tales of supernatural trickery and having a good laugh, this show will suit you perfectly.”

We’re working really hard up here and I’ve been attending a lot of the industry events organised by The Fringe Central. We were planning on writing more reviews but what with three hours of flyering and performing every evening, time has been short.

Last week now! Don’t miss out!

Tim Ralphs is a storyteller and his show of urban devilry Rebranding Beelzebub is on every night from 2 August 2014 to 24 August 2014 at 9:50pm in The Banshee Labyrinth. A PBH free fringe performance – you only have to pay what you think the Devil is due.


Jaminaround 2014

Posted: June 2nd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Just got back from Jaminaround 2014, a great little festival in Dorset that takes place in the Ancient Technology Centre. I’ve heard a lot about that place and it was wonderful to finally visit.

Here’s me telling Princess Vasilisa and the Firebird. in the roundhouse.

Photo by Jo Stephen

Photo by Jo Stephen


Can the Mountains Love the Sea?

Posted: March 14th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

Surprise! I have a new show coming out in May for two dates in London. As yet there are no further bookings confirmed so don’t take a risk and miss it! I love this story. It has viking podiatry hygiene. Loki does something hilarious with a goat. But mostly, it’s a story where the wedding isn’t immediately followed by The End, where we get to see marriage as that grand crucible of person making, and we get to find out if the unlikely couple will grow together or apart.

Collingwood 1908

Skadi Longs for the Mounains – The Poetic Edda

“There is a Giantess at the gate. Her burning fury melts the ice. She will be avenged against us all. Three things she demands as blood price: The most handsome man in our hall as her husband. A joy filled marriage feast. And that her dead father’s cold eyes see her wedding day. She will have these things or she will have her vengeance.”

BASE winner Tim Ralphs invites you to a wedding at your local storytelling club. Ruthless Skadi, daughter of murdered Thiazi, will wed Njord, the peaceful God of the Sea. You might think that this curious union is unlikely to lead to happiness ever after. But it would be rude to say anything and, come bloodshed or bliss, we’ll be watching from ringside seats.

Can the Mountains Love the Sea? is a brand new adaptation of The Marriage of Njord and Skadi, a Norse myth brimful of anger, magic and adult-humour.

RSVP.


Audience comments from Larmer Tree Festival

Posted: August 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

I’ve just had a particularly moving e-mail from someone who saw my Queen of Claywood Flats show around the fire at Larmer Tree Festival. It was a wonderful environment to tell in and I’m pleased they found the story to be fitting for the space.

“I really wanted to let you know how much me and my entire party enjoyed your fireside storytelling at the Larmer tree. It was a brilliant and surprising piece of truly gifted and skilful entertainment. I’ve never had the privilege to have seen your storytelling before nor very much of the art-form at all, to be honest, but we were all totally blown away. Not one stumble, not one hesitation, always on the move around the fire so that everyone was able to hear and a brilliant physicality that really brought the geography and the characters to life. And that’s before one even contemplates the intricate Russian doll architecture of your story within a story within a story, a magnificent timeless mythic epic tale. It was totally absorbing. You made that Saturday night a really special occasion and I am sure that the rest of your fireside listeners felt the same. It was abundantly clear that they were all clearly as captivated as we were.”