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The Holy Oak by Ashely Ramsden

 

In the Autumn of 1990 I was storytelling in Wales near the little village of Rhandirmwyn. After sharing some stories I needed a walk’.   Soon I was out in a royal 'dark and stormy night' and getting soaked to the skin. I searched for a place to shelter but there was nothing at hand. It was then that I passed a huge oak tree and noticed a hole at the base of it large enough for me to crawl inside. I crouched down and entered. To my amazement I found that inside it was dry and I could not only stand up but even stretch out my arms so far that they barely reached the sides. Inside the oak I rode out the storm and wondered what to do next in my life (like you do!) It was here that the thought came," What if there was a place in the world to learn the art of storytelling, where people could come and find their voices and celebrate the stories from their different cultures? Why not start a School of Storytelling?

 

That's what happened and many storytellers have come and brought their gifts and many people have joined us from all over the world to discover what stories can bring to their lives and communities.

Ashley Ramsden established the School of Storytelling in 1994 under the umbrella of Emerson College. He co-founded the International School of Storytelling in 2011.

Ashley's unique methods of teaching voice and the skills of the storyteller have received international acclaim. He runs workshops, tours with his one-man-shows including A Christmas Carol, The Amazing Adventures of the Hodja Nasrud’din, and Tistou of the Green Thumbs amongst others and is a speaker of sacred poetry. He has been touring recently with his wife Flora, focusing on T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets and is back from a period of refreshment with a host of workshops and new ideas.

Roi Gal-Or (founder) teaches the use of storytelling in service of the environment education, healing, peace and reconciliation. He works with the power of stories and the imagination to inspire connection and social transformation, foster vision, possibility and personal development. Weaving together storytelling, social games and biographical work he works and performs worldwide.

Karmit Evenzur, Karmit’s work history spans diverse experiences, interests and competences from the healing arts, and the arts & crafts world. Her unique skill-set provides a deep perspective for transformational work, and in working with soul searching questions. Her studies encompass human ecology and earth healing modalities as well as energy healing systems and shamanic practices. Her work is deeply informed and nurtured by a European shamanic tradition. 

Her work at the School of Storytelling explores the sacred sources of story in the realms of the imagination where everything is possible! She is passionate about creating new narratives that combine ancient, nature based thinking with contemporary forms and needs. She believes the Oral Tradition acts as a healing salve; helping us to stitch together our fragmented perceptions of the world. 

Stella Kassimati is an experienced facilitator of workshops. She teaches around the world in both Greek and English, as well as at the School of Storytelling, Emerson College and Schumacher College, UK.
She has a deep passion for biographical storytelling, with an emphasis on ancestry stories, enabling adults to craft and publicly perform family tales with the goal of increasing empathy and creating community. She loves teaching the craft of the storyteller because it gives people a voice and empowers them to bring more of themselves into the world.

Stella, in following her passion, is carrying a stream of Greek Mythology at the School. People interested in Greek Myths, will be able to follow the energies of gods and goddesses and many major myths that have influenced and shaped our western culture and civilization and are relevant to us today.

Stella is the founding  Director of Friends of Amari, an international association contributing to the revival of the Valley and Village of Amari, her ancestral home in Crete.

Giovanna Conforto is the creative director of the Italian Storytelling Center,  a creative associate with Lignin Stories (Malta) and founding member of  Stories in Place International Network. She has participated in events and festivals all over Europe, North America and Asia.

Giovanna's main interest is in how to bring storytelling to creatively acquire, elaborate and convey content  creating connections and building  bridges.

Her storytelling applies to many areas: Communication of science, communities, territories and art, education, social work,  business, healthcare, interfaith dialogue and self development.

Among her collaborations the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and the Global Science Opera.

 She continues to participate as resercher in various projects on Landscape narratives and Science teaching and communication. She is co-author of the ScienceTheatre European guidelines for the creative teaching of science.

Giovanna tells and facilitates in Italian, French and English. 

Paul Matthews, poet, gymnast, mentor, has been a long-time teacher of Creative Writing at Emerson College.

 

Here, below, is a personal note on his work in the ‘Storytelling Beyond Words’ course:

 

I have, since storytelling courses started at the college, found ways of adapting my work with words and movement to serve the needs of those who come to study here. You will see from my website that I have published two sourcebooks to encourage a lively use of language and imagination. Though the sessions that I offer will engage us in the act of writing both creatively and playfully, my intention is to serve the art and craft of storytelling that you have come for – to love words, to give permissions of fantasy, to bring language alive through our attention to one another. Don’t worry if you are not a native speaker of English… that will simple add a richness to the experience. Maybe (in whatever language) some poems and stories will arise out of the simple exercises that I invite you into, but the writing of finished literary pieces is not the point. You might find, however, that this joyful way of working with words adds a further string to your bow when, after our three months together, you carry your new skills and confidence out into the wider community. I am also one of the mentors accompanying small groups in preparation for the project festival at the end of the course.

Bronia Evers, Bronia is a storyteller, puppeteer, designer and maker. She is particularly interested in exploring the area where spoken language and visual imagery combine to offer the audience a bridge in to the world of story. Bronia is a graduate of the International School of Storytelling and also trained in puppetry at the Little Angel Theatre in London, after studying Theatre and English Literature at the University of Warwick.

Bronia’s company One Moment In Time has performed in schools, theatres, libraries and museums around Britain.

Olivia Olsen, Olivia’s work springs from dance and movement.  She tours the solo work Parzival and Penelope, The Odyssey through her Eyes.

Olivia toured Europe in Charles Dickens Hard Times. 

In the play The Syringa Tree by Pamela Gien, a single actor plays twenty-two characters.  Olivia’s performance in this allowed her to source her movement background and early childhood memories of South Africa.  It ran in Canada and the US.

Other favorite roles are Bed Among the Lentils, Lettice in Lettice and Lovage, Valentina in The Bay at Nice and Cassandra in Agamemnon.   In Nijinsky Strings on a Rose she played various people in Nijinsky’s life opposite a dancer, and, Night Breath set in the Bosnian War.

Stray Dogs a play Olivia has written will run at Park Theatre in London in November 2019.

A story of the poet Anna Akhmatova living in the great purges of the Soviet Union.