Aber Story Fest – less than three weeks to go !

We have had some additions to the programme, and are very excited indeed. 

Friday 6th December features some headlining acts, starting off with an adventure into the dark otherworld of west Wales tales, and some amazing music by the region’s most inventive musicians. Hurdy gurdy, harp, cello like you’ve never heard it played before, and the amazing multi-instrumentalist Pixy Tom.

Saturday is packed, starting off with something new for us, a symposium about start, art and landscape in Wales. From this start, we move straight into an afternoon with a multitude of offerings including formal and informal storytelling with some of the best performers in Wales and the UK, while in the theatre foyer there is more music for your listening pleasure and performance art.

Saturday evening sees a varied programme of mysterious tales including Morgana le Fey, ending with our own Rrose Selavy, who will stitch together the tales of the weekend into a new and surreal tapestry.

Sunday afternoon is the time for children’s stories, with many of our favourite storytellers and dress-up artists performing for and with little ones. And puppets!

Sunday evening has another set of headlining acts, followed by a Twmpath in which all of the musicians of the weekend takes turns playing music for dancing. While twmpath means a Welsh dancing evening (similar to American sqaure dance or contra dancing), I happen to know that these musicians often spill over into French and Breton dances as well, with the possibility of a Canadian barn dance being included, so expect a varied range. If you don’t know how to dance, don’t worry, come along and they will show you. The dances will be called and taught for beginners.


Flash Fiction: 7X7 number 1

seven2This story was written in response to an invitation I posted on Facebook:

7X7 experiment – Please comment on this post by posting *one single word* – any word you want (well, not something rude, obviously). Once I have seven words, I will weave them into a mini story. Next step is try to create seven different stories using the same set of words. I’ll put the stories where you can find them. Thanks to Tommy Baker for inspiration.

The words were: rose, flapjack, octopus, dolsot, travesty, laughing, wired, with the optional addition of reptile. Considering the level of specificity of the words, I’ve only written one story.

Language Lesson

by Mary Jacob, 13 January 2013

They had been driving since 6am, sniping at each other the whole time, so when they arrived at the lake, they put down their bags and sat without speaking for a while. It seemed easier that way. A square patch of sun inched across the floor.

She rose heavily from the kitchen chair and said to her husband, “Well, I might as well start making the flapjacks, or it will be too late to eat by the time they’re done.” She rummaged around in the cupboards. “This cabin is so tiny, there’s nothing here. I can’t find a fry pan, only these stone pots. What a travesty! We paid a lot of money to spend this weekend at Big Bear.”

“Calm down,” her husband said, “Why are you so wired? The saucepans were probably nicked by the previous guests. All they have left are these Korean things, dolsots, I think you call them.”

She snorted. “Dolsots? That sounds like some kind of reptile. What are we supposed to do with these? You can’t fry pancakes in stone pots.”

“Pancakes? I thought you were making flapjacks?”

“Yes, flapjacks.”

“Oh wait a minute…” They spoke at nearly the same time. He was saying, “In Britain, a flapjack is…” while she said, “In America, a flapjack is…”

Before they could finish their sentences, they’d collapsed on the floor laughing. He enclosed her in his arms and breathed in the fragrance of her hair. “Shall we start again?” he said.

“You’re such an octopus!” she said, as she snuggled into his chest. “Okay, let’s see what the rest of the cabin is like. If it’s really nice, we don’t have to go skiing at all, do we?“

“We can stay in and teach each other to speak English. Properly, I mean. With this nice bottle of Cabernet.”

“That’s French, silly.”

“Yes, teacher. I’ll see if I can find the California Zin, then, shall I?”

Aberystwyth Storytelling Festival

Well, as the date nears (30 Nov – 2 Dec), we have been very busy. See our shiny new website http://aberstoryfestival.wordpress.com/

I was going to tell you about all the great stories for adults and kids, puppets, fairies, kings, corpses, knights, a most unusual bear, fairy tales, classical tales, stories from Brittany, improvisational performances, art films, rare old fairy tale films, workshops to save the planet, music from the Celtic world, from India, from the imaginations of the strangest and most creative minds in Wales, from the gentle and dark side of the folk scene, fiddle, hurdy gurdy, sitar, djembe, live French and Breton music that will dance you into another world (yes, there is dancing), but it all seemed too much, really.

You’ll just have to look at the website for details and plan your weekend yourself.

All I can say is, you might get an opportunity to meet Rrose Sélavy in person and do something surreal.

And fairy cakes. Rumour has it there will be fairy cakes.

Let the fest begin!

Aberystwyth Storytelling Festival

The new website is almost complete! Have a look at the fantastic programme and performer biographies for the Aberystwyth Storytelling Festival 2-4 December 2011 at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre.


Everything from Stories from Brittany (and a Fest Noz dance), Late Night Cabaret, Caribbean Spook tales and more. Events for kids and adults, many of the daytime events are free of charge.



Hedgerow messages

Last night was the opening of Pretty Common Things, an exhibition and installation by Joanna Bond at ::the studio:: gallery. It was exhuberant.

First let me tell you the set-up, and then I’ll tell you what we did in the space.

You enter the basement gallery via an outdoor staircase the leads down to a tiny candle-lit courtyard and then a broad corridor, decorated with ethnic wall hangings, fairy lights twining among the silvery cladding on exposed pipes. Jo’s husband, Owain, had a DJ station at one end, with refreshments on a table at the other.

You turn a corner into a narrow hallway, which was lined with potted saplings, birch and other trees. Each one had a red tag with instructions to take the tree home and plant it in the Wildwood reforestation project or you could plant them anywhere. Other than that, the two indoor hedgerows were bare at the start, leafless mid-winter.

The exhibition space is a tiny white room off that hallway. The walls were hung with framed collages created by Jo, and stunning ceramics on shelves and tables. Tiny ceramic seeds were suspended from the ceiling. The collages and paintings featured hand-drawn images from the countryside and hand-drawn maps, with bits of textiles, strips of printed maps, and dried flowers incorporated into some of them. The natural wood frames enhanced the earthy colour scheme. Some had a circular motif, while others had structures like branching trees or streams.

The ceramics were arranged on natural wood shelves and stands. They were hand-built with a plain white underglaze and organic shapes set into the glaze. Jo had made a series of paintings on the countryside hedgerow theme, scanned them and cut them into leafy and circular shapes – a fall of leaves crossing the center of a bowl and spilling over the edge, a bumble bee in the middle of an asymmetrical plate, rows of tiny seeds  or a bird bedecking an espresso cup and saucer. Nature was embedded everywhere in the show.

By the end of the evening, there were lots of red dots on items that had been sold or reserved. If you have a chance, get down there and see them while you can.

The evening started with DJ music and then we did the first of two runnings  of a new surrealist game – Hedgerow messages.

We had a dozen or more people sitting in a circle in the exhibition space. For the first round, Orion (guitar), Pete (concertina) and Allen (fiddle) played music as people settled on cushions, then it became quiet. I gave everyone a brown paper tag  for messages from the unconscious and a writing implement. There were books about nature to use as writing surfaces.

I talked people through Theta State, a performance piece that encourages the audience to relax and be receptive. The music began again, and Jo recited a poem (really the lyrics to a song) that she wrote about hedgerows in the Welsh countryside. The musicians played in the background and carried on for a bit after the end of the poem. When the music stopped, everyone wrote down whatever came into their minds. Most wrote words, some drew pictures. As they finished the tags, they went and tied them onto the saplings.

The audience at the opening contributed to the art installation. As people wandered through the space, they were reading the messages on the tags. The hedgerows blossomed with messages from the audience.

After that, Jo introduced the issue of indiscriminate cutting of hedgerows in Wales and then sang the song with accompaniment.  Then there was live music from The Barefoot Dancers Of The Sea in the large hall.  More people had been coming throughout the evening, so after the live music there were quite a few who had not participated in the first game, so we ran it a second time with a different set. Again, the room was as full as it could be, with a few standing outside writing on their tags. The first time, Pete had led the music but the second time Orion led.  It was lovely!

We had upwards of 30 tags with messages from the unconscious tied onto saplings by the end like prayers, and some people did take trees home with them.

The final part of the evening was a true highlight…Milly Jackdaw told a story about listening to the earth, and Peter Stevenson (Mr. Fox) told one about rabbits running through hedgerows.

It was so hard for people to say goodbye that we ran past the publicised end time, and a group went out for dancing afterward == I didn’t go, still being on the crutch 😦

It was one of the loveliest evenings I have had. Together with gallery owner Ruth Hogg and Hannah, Joy and other artist friends, Jo created a truly magical environment. Thank you!!!!