The stories that we heard as small children, were usually folktales and fairy stories. Tales that our parents and their parents heard when they were young, passed down through the generations.
Folktales were stories of hopes and dreams, of encounters with giants; wicked witches and goblins that inflict harm. Or kind fairies and dragons who restore peace and order.
These were our first experiences of life's changing patterns and through which we were able to know good from evil; kindness from cruelty and the difference between ambition and despair.
Because most of these folktales and fairy stories were created before many people
could read or write, they had to be passed on by word of mouth,
consequently they were never the same twice in the telling. Each
storyteller placing his emphasis in the areas he felt would create the
best response or deliver the important message.
THE ORAL STORYTELLER OF TODAY
In that respect, the oral storyteller of today performs in exactly the same way; It is essentially the difference between listening to a 'Teller of Tales' and hearing someone reading a story from a book. The oral storyteller shapes his tale according to the way he feels and in response to the manner in which his audience is reacting.
The modern day storyteller of course, in addition to re-telling the tales that he has heard others tell, also knows many of the folktales that were told long ago. They are all now available in books!
Because of this huge availability, we all have access to a vast storehouse of folk tales passed down from different cultures and translated from their original languages. Our potential repertoire of stories is far greater than that of the storytellers of the past who were only able to pass on the tales that they themselves heard from others.
ORIGINAL FOLKTALES AND FAIRY STORIES
We have the original fairy stories written by Denmark's
the collected folktales of
of Asbjornsen and Moe and others, as well as the romantic folktales from the Middle and Far East. So with this great wealth of material, you are able to consider:
WHAT STORIES CAN YOU TELL?
Our advice is to begin with the tales that you grew up with! The stories that you were told when young and have never forgotten. Do not despise the 'Old favourites', "Little Red Riding Hood" and "The Three Little Pigs" are still great stories.
Walt Disney was no fool, he knew that "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" was a winner. Fifty years later, Disney produced "Aladdin" and "The Sleeping Beauty". Audiences flocked to see them and loved them! because THEY WERE OLD FAVOURITES!
HERE ARE SOME ADDITIONAL DEDICATED WEBSITE LINKS THAT YOU MIGHT LIKE TO EXPLORE:
Joseph Jacobs - Celtic Fairy Tales
If like me, you prefer collecting your stories in books, you will find most anthologies of folk and fairytales available from Amazon.com.
One of the stories that I regularly tell to children is,
It is from the Brothers Grimm collection. In my
telling, I make a slight alteration in order to accommodate a little bit
of business at the end.
Hear it live!
You can hear my interpretation of this story on the C.D. "The Adventures of a Lucky Bean - and Other Tales for Children" recorded live at a Scottish Primary School in February of 2004.
for more information.
TWO SCOTTISH FOLKTALES
I have been recently reading a book entitled, “Tales of Ayrshire”, in which there are over fifty stories and, having once lived in Ayrshire, some of the tales were familiar to me. Others were not. The book was written by Anna Blair and published in 1983.
Since it is now out of print, I have sought Ms. Blair’s permission to share some of the stories with you. She has graciously consented and the first two below are from her book.
In giving her permission, she modestly adds that they belong to the people of Ayrshire and her contribution is only in setting the stories down. I think that her input is far greater than that. She has written in a style that makes them extremely readable and more importantly - memorable.
An extract from the back cover notes reads: ‘Anna Blair has travelled the length and breadth of the county to collect many of its folk-tales; some she heard from old people with long memories, others were gleaned from ancient manuscripts. Most were either fragmentary or were recorded in a number of differing versions, and the author has reconstructed the former and having taken the highlights of the variations among the latter, re-written them in the form that seemed to make the most authentic and rounded stories.’
She has certainly written the tales with great care and affection, and where appropriate, much humour. So here is the first tale:
Perhaps it would be helpful to those not familiar with the locality to know that Stewarton has for hundreds of years, been famous in Scotland for the making of a particular kind of hat or 'bonnet'. Not unlike the famous hat worn by Robert Burns' legendary 'Tam O'Shanter'.
The Shifting of Stewarton Kirk