The Story Forge – passing the baton

Posted: January 2nd, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Welcome to 2017. I am groggy with the jetlag of landing back in the UK. It was an interesting New Year’s Eve, midnight rushing West to meet us as we flew East towards the sunrise.

It’s a time of change and one of these changes is that I’m handing over the running and administration of Sheffield’s The Story Forge. I’ve been hosting the club since the middle of 2009 and the time has come for the torch to be passed on. Freshly molten words will still cool in the quiet waters of the Don. Stories will still get forged. I have great, great hope for 2017 and the future of the club. Not least because Hugh Lupton is bringing Beowulf in January.

Most of the details for the club will be the same. The email address. The location. And so on. I with the new team the best of luck!


Flyer

The new flyer for The Story Forge carries the DNA of Christine Cooper’s flyer of old! Click to enlarge.

After seven and a half years, there’s a lot I’m proud of. One of those things has been bringing world class storytelling to the little upstairs room at The Fat Cat. So to sign off The Story Forge, here’s a list, as best as I can remember, of every show we’ve hosted. How many do you remember? What have I missed?

Simon Heywood – Tales of Darkest England
Tim Ralphs – The Kaleidoscope
Rachel Rose Reid – The Little Tailor
Sophie Snell – Seven Deadly Sins
Peter Findlay – A Silent World (How Anansi stole us stories)
David Hague’s – Old Jack
Kat Quatermass – Tales of Love and Loss
Dominic Kelly – The Gift
Christine Cooper – The Battle of The Trees
Ben Haggerty – The Blacksmith at The Bridge of Bones
Shonaleigh – The Tower of Bagel
Helen Stewart and Honor Giles – Love, Death and Divine Intervention
Tim Ralphs – On Our St George’s Day
Simon Heywood – Robin Hood
Nell Phoenix - Fairy Tales for Fearless Adults
Rachel Rose Reid - I’m Hans Christian Andersen
Ursula Holden Gills – There are fairies in the gutter
Richard Trouncer – Pub Gods
Raymond Greenoaken – The Music of What Happens
Jo Blake Cave – The Smiling Fox
Sarah Rundle – Gawain and the Green Knight
Clare Murphy – The King of Lies
Simon Heywood – Vortigern
Guto Dafis – Jackie Kent and The Devil’s Purse
Moni and Ivor – The Dragon Lover
Giles Abbott – Caught on the Horns
Ruthie Boycott Garnett – Here’s to the Hare
Emily Parrish-Hennessey – Loki
Cath Little – Castle Arrianhrod
Cat Gerrard - Body without Soul
Daniel Morden – Tales from the Mabinogien
Raymond Greenoaken - Alistair Begg
Nell Phoenix – The Kiss of Forgetfulness
Ana Lines – The Barbecued Husbands
Alys Torrance – Cracking the Tale Bones (Inuit stories)
Tim Ralphs – Can the Mountains Love the Sea?
Cath Edwards – Pirates!
Cath Little – The Apple Tree Woman
Amanda Smith – Choices and Regrets
Mike Payton - Bullfighting Widows and Haunted Cows
Sarah Lise Wilkinson – A Girl with No Hands
Red Phoenix - My Passport says Storyteller
Tim Ralphs – Bed of Arrows


Clowning for Storytellers – A Masterclass with Fred Versonnen

Posted: June 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Coming up on the 14th July, Beeston Tales is bringing you the next in its program of masterclasses for storytellers. Internationally acclaimed performer Fred Versonnen is stopping off with us as he travels from Belgium to The Festival at the Edge.

Clowning is a beautiful way of making connections. Connections with your audience, connections with parts of yourself you don’t always talk to. Fred has a lively and colourful background as a street performer, jester, stilt walker, fire crasher, clown, juggler and storyteller. He currently teaches at Circus School and spent many years working in Children’s Hospitals. In this workshop he’ll introduce storytellers to some useful clowning techniques and games. Learn to be fully present. Learn to embrace judgement and vulnerability. And who knows, maybe you’ll learn how to make someone laugh!

clown

This workshop is taking place upstairs at The White Lion Bar and Kitchen. Turn up at 10:30 for an 11.00 start. Wear loose clothing. Expected end time is 16:30. This workshop will cost £35 and includes lunch provided by The White Lion. Please let us know of any dietary requirements when you book. Book by sending a cheque to Mike, by emailing us to confirm details or via the paypal link below that says Book Now.





Perhaps you’re not convinced of the link between clowning and storytelling? Read this personal account by Simon Sylvester who attended one of Fred’s workshops several years ago in Brigsteer.

“Last month, at Dreamfired, I saw storyteller Fred Versonnen perform the amazing Elephant Story. The next morning, I attended his clowning workshop in Arnside. This had almost nothing to do with the stereotypical idea of clowning – no silly noses, no silly shoes – and was essentially a 101 on delivery, performance and body language.

Fred warned us at the start of the session that it might take us to some uncomfortable places. I didn’t believe him, but he was right. It’s taken me this entire month to process some of the things that happened in that class. I’m not sure I’ll ever totally get to grips with it, but at the same time, I no longer think I need to. I just wanted to record a few thoughts on what clowning means to me.

I’m not going to talk about the specific activities Fred led us through. They were plentiful, varied, invigorating, intense and brilliantly useful, but they will mean different things to each person who attended, and I don’t feel the need to dissect the actual workshop. I want to talk about what I learned.

I learned that I’m frightened of embarrassment. Most of us are, probably. During the workshop, we performed tasks specifically designed to undermine dignity and strip away the topmost layers of self-respect. I found myself trying to rationalise the embarrassment by imposing a narrative upon it, but every time, Fred forced me to confront it.

‘For a clown, embarrassment is a gift,’ he said.

In this way, I learned that clowns are truly fearless.

I also learned to wait.

In a world consumed with noise and signals, the clown is silent. She waits, absorbing everything, and then she waits some more, until the wait itself becomes excruciating – until the pause itself becomes the embarrassment – and then she responds. In that pause, the clown is naked. Every part of her is laid open for the world to see. The clown waits long enough for the audience to connect, to project their own feelings onto the situation, to drown in empathy, to cringe in anticipation. Every part of them is laid wide open. This is the tragedy of the clown, and the triumph. It has nothing to do with face paint or comedy trousers. Laurel and Hardy are clowns, and Pennywise is not.

I couldn’t live that way, but I’m trying to bring some of it into in my own readings. At the Flashtag story slam, I made myself pause, and wait, then wait some more. I took a stupid hat onstage for my final story, and I forced myself to wear it. I tried to share anticipation of what was coming next with the audience. It was, without a doubt, the happiest I’ve ever been with my performance – the best I’ve ever read my stories. For everything I learned, I’m not sure I’ll ever know how to apply it properly. But I think I understand, now, that not knowing is itself part of clowning. It is Zen – pure action, without thought. I think too much.

At the start of this post, I said that the workshop had nothing to do with silly noses. That isn’t entirely true. At the very start of the session, as people were still arriving, we gathered in the kitchen to wait. Fred began to ransack the drawers, looking for props to use in the workshop. He found an orange ping pong ball. In a single, fluid motion, he spun to face me, bringing the ball to his nose, and he grinned. Just as quickly, he replaced the ball and closed the drawer. But in that second, or half a second, he’d become a clown. His face changed, his body changed – with the sheer, magnificent, wondrous joy of finding a ping pong ball in a kitchen drawer.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to articulate what happened in that workshop. I don’t need to articulate it, of course, but I want to; and that is why I will never be a true clown. A clown wouldn’t need to analyse it, because they wouldn’t be scared of it. A clown would simply shrug, smile, and turn to embrace the vastness of this mad, sad, glorious thing that we call life.”

£35. The White Lion Bar, Beeston. 10:30 until 16:30. 14 July 2016. What more do you need to know? Confirm your place below:






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:

11th October ~ “Romance and Ragamuffins” ~ Ursula Holden Gill

Love against all the odds – and the odds are bonkers!

The indisputably talented Ursula Holden Gill is here by popular demand bringing a show that has been selling out clubs and festivals since 2016. Book early!







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


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.


All Things Girl Interview – Exciting Edinburgh News

Posted: March 4th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Blog | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

By some weird coincidence of gender and timing, I was the January “Man of the Moment” for All Things Girl. Melissa A. Bartell took the time for a lengthy interview and you can read it in full here. I talk about storytelling, my ministry and life stuff in some detail. Here’s an example of one question from it:

MAB: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? What advice would you like to pass on to others?

TR: I don’t really hold much with advice. There’s a story about a Rabbi that was famed for his wisdom and insightfulness. He kept two scraps of paper, one in each of his pockets, and his pupils had often seen him consulting them but nobody knew what they said. These pieces of paper were of enormous interest amongst his pupils, and each had a theory about what might be on them.

One day, finally, the pupils could stand it no longer and asked the Rabbi what lessons were so great that he carried them with him all the time. He showed them. On one piece of paper was written: “For me, the whole Universe was created.” On the other: “I am not even a speck of dust before the eye of God.”

The pupils were confused because these writings seemed utterly contradictory and so after some discussion they asked their teacher which, if either, was really true and which held the greater wisdom.

“They’re both completely true.” The Rabbi said. “But no human understanding is perfect, so each can only be good for one pocket.”

That’s how I feel about advice, I guess. That at best, it’s good for one pocket. But I did learn a really important lesson in 2012 when I caught the noro-virus and was as ill as I have ever been. So if I have to give you a single piece of advice from 2012 it would be: “Don’t get gastroenteritis.” (I think your readers probably call it a GI infection.) If I had to give you a single piece of advice from 2013, it would be “If you get the chance, go and see Venice.” We’ve just had our honeymoon there, and it was magical.

One life lesson a year. I think I can about cope with that.

~ ~ ~

EXCITING EDINBURGH FRINGE NEWS! I will telling my show of Urban Devil stories, Rebranding Beelzebub at The Banshee Labyrinth during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August this year. Big shout out to the PHB Free Fringe, without whom this wouldn’t be happening. It’s going to be amazing! Follow the show on twitter by looking for #DevilTM and I’ll keep you updated here with developments. If you’re in Edinburgh for the festival then let me know. It will be my first time at the festival and it would be great to meet up and support one another.


In which Tim mostly talks about robots…

Posted: June 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Slowly but surely I’m building the Booking Information page. There should now be details up for my performance of The Court of the Queen of Claywood Flats. It is one of my favourite shows and I’m hoping that I’ll still be able to tour it for years to come.

On an unrelated note, I’ve been thinking about robots a lot lately. They have a seminal place in my love of stories dating back to the letters my step-father wrote to me as a child. I was young when my mother remarried. As an adult I wonder what it must have been like for my step-father to fall for a woman who came with a small, ticklish, sickly, know-it-all son attached. He moved away for a few months at the start of a new job, living in a bedsit while we sorted out the process of moving to join him. These were tentative times, early in our relationship, and there are few roadmaps written on how you’re meant to fashion a father-son bond.

I had given him a lego spaceman and robot to keep him company at work. He wrote me stories, the adventures that he’d overheard the spaceman dictating to his companion. I was too young to read his handwriting, which being “joined-up” seemed to hardly resemble the letters I was learning. My mother read them aloud to me instead. Now, as an adult, I haul them out from under my bed and what strikes me most is the gentleness in them.

I don’t normally tell stories from my own life or experiences, but this little exchange between myself and my step-dad forms a nice introduction to a tale I tell about the museum he worked in. The story will feature in my upcoming show Re-branding Beelzebub TM, which I’m hoping to tour in 2013. The show brings together of a pack of urban devil stories that have slithered their way into my repertoire without any sort of intent on my part, and I’ll try and keep you up to date here on the show’s progress.

But back to robots. Has anyone seen Richard Sargent’s Where’s Wall-E? picture that’s doing the rounds on facebook? It’s a great medley of popular robots. Enjoy it. See how many of them you remember. I’d like to put a shout out, though, to two of my favourite synthetic creations that didn’t make it onto Sargent’s image.

One is the incredible The One Electonic, or Mr T.O.E., from Evan Dahm’s Riceboy webcomic. This humanoid machine is a trench-coat wearing, hard smoking, film noir bad-ass. The One Electronic is on a quest to find the fulfiller of an ancient prophecy. He’s made a deal (possibly with God,) that as long as he keeps on the quest he is effectively immortal, but that as soon as he abandons the quest he’ll die. Riceboy is gorgeous and I particularly like the art for The One Electronic, whose face shows occasional images like a TV set hunting for an analogue signal. Furthermore, Riceboy is finished, a feature I usually approve of in a webcomic. The ending seemed a bit abrupt to me, but that hasn’t put me off T.O.E. and I hope you’ll be just as impressed by him as well. First page is right here.

The second robot I want to present to you all is Navvy Jim. He could never have made Sargent’s poster because he only ever appeared in text, as a part of the bizarre but wondrous world of Jenna Moran’s Hitherby Dragons. Hitherby Dragons is likely to be the subject of a whole blog post from me at some point, when I can fathom sufficient hyperbole to begin to describe it. It is, in its way and as far as I’m aware, the single greatest work ever composed in the English language. It is also flawed, inaccessable, geeky, monstrously vast, unfinished and very hard to recommend to people. However, a great taste of the epic is a short series of three linked stories written in May 2006 called The Dynamite Trilogy. Navvy Jim is the eponymous star of the first part, he is a Rock-Paper-Scissors playing robot so good at the game that he always wins. Always. In this short series, Moran captures the beautiful, alien and compassionate quality of the impossible mechanical being. He turns up in the third part as well, where he is awesome.

Anyway, that’s enough about robots and that’s all from me for now. Him downstairs and I need to have a long chat about this show we seem to be crafting together. Until next time!


What’s been keeping Tim Ralphs busy?

Posted: March 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Things have been pretty quiet around here. I’ve finally got around to putting a show description up under the “Booking information” page. You can see that here.

This year I’ve got some crazy storytelling projects on the go. I’ve started running lectures and seminars for Sheffield University in the use of narrative techniques for presenting research. They are aimed at Phd students and early careers researchers, and thus far it’s been really good to share my passion with people looking to share their passions.

I’m also involved in a project to learn every story from The Pentamerone in order. It’s a feat of memory indeed! You can keep up with my progress on Twitter, @TimRalphs and there’ll probably be a show based on The Tale of Tales coming out in 2013.

Lastly, I’m working on a very secret project that has me getting up at six in the morning. It’s too soon to share exactly what that is, but I’m really excited!