During the latter end of last year I began to learn a new skill. Anyone who has seen me over the last ten years, doing my spoken word stuff will know that I am not yet off script.
This new skill was the art of storytelling in the oral tradition. It is not about performing, being the centre of attention, it is not acting either as facilitators Shonaleigh and Rupert Creed drummed into us. It is imbibing a story; stripping the story to its bare bones and then rebuilding, understanding why the story works and then being able to tell that story and share it with an audience.
So it was that I along with a dozen or so others completed both workshop series and performance of Freedom To Tell Tales winter season. Now in 2015 the 16-25 year olds will have the opportunity to work with Freedom To Tell Tales and the Discover Your Voice programme. Once again FTTT is supported by Hull Library Services but is now joined by many other agencies including Hull College and Hull University, City Healthcare Partnership, The Warren, TimeBank Hull, WISE and a number of individuals from the worlds of music, technology theatre and literature. It is refreshing to see so many different organisations showing an interest, this kind of joined up thinking and collective effort will give the best chance for a strong uptake by the target demographic.
Discover your Voice has been launched with a view to creating a citywide story for Freedom Festival 2015. A story to be partly told by the young participants working with different narrative forms such as Rap, Hip Hop, Film, Spoken Word, the written word and oral storytelling. The theme is ‘Freedom‘ an idea and concept which is wide open to interpretation and conducive to all manner of approaches.
The launch of the event took place at Hull Central Library within The Space adjacent to the James Reckitt Reading Rooms during the evening March 12 (The James Reckitt Trust has played a considerable role in the achievements and success of Freedom To Tell Tales)
In attendance representatives from the aforementioned groups and organisations and yours truly. Jenny Coombes from Freedom Festival spoke about the act of gathering stories from the past, in order to discover the voice of the city… these stories might be contemporary or old folk tales and could be told in myriad ways.
‘There is a strong oral tradition in the city and we can use that to develop the stories of the young people,’ Rupert Creed writer/dramatist and founder of FTTT. By way of example he showed two short narrative works, first Hollie McNish and her spoken word piece Foreign – Hollie performed in the city at Humbermouth last year- you can read my response here. Secondly the Hull rap artist Chiedu Oraka whose From A City track, showed the importance of allowing young people to talk through their feelings however negative and to be allowed to reach resolution. These stories might be personal stories, historical stories, poems, song lyrics stories that connect with music or visuals or something else.
‘The Library is not just a repository for books.’ Michelle Alford says, ‘It is a place to connect with knowledge and each other.’ The library maintains a huge and valuable resource of materials and has recently been awarded Business and Intellectual Property status. This will allow them to show young people how to protect their IP so they can grow more confidence to be creative and improve business and employment prospects. There will be a programme of storytellers both local and national holding events and workshops as part of the Library’s continuing efforts to support and facilitate cultural growth in the city.
Altu Collingwood of Universal Zulu Nation spoke passionately about the traits of Hip Hop culture being underpinned by the teachings of Afrika Bambaataa. He shall be devising a programme of workshops and sessions with local and national artists, looking at the history of Hip Hop, the art of Rap and how music can wrap around storytelling.
Jackie Goodman Head of Hull School Of Art and Design, explained that during the lead up to Freedom Festival, young people could be given the opportunity to work with digital professionals using high tech Virtual Reality devices known as Oculus Rift. During the past year Games Design courses led by Gareth Sleightholme have been working alongside Hull Museums digitally recreating parts of the city from different time periods, with impressive results. Participants on the FTTT programme could open up the space to become the FTTT media hub.
What Happens Now?
Registration is now open and interested parties are invited to Sign Up and register for the Discover Your Voice course.