Story telling is the most natural thing

28th March 1997 at 00:00
Earlier this year, The Company of Storytellers gave the first London performance of their bold and absorbing new devised work I Become Part of It, an exploration of the stories and myths of the Mesolithic peoples of 10, 000 years ago.

Three of Britain's top storytellers - Pomme Clayton, Ben Haggarty and Hugh Lupton - held a Purcell Room audience spellbound for two hours with their new collection of tales, based on the kind found among such hunter gatherers as the Bushmen, the Inuit, the Aboriginals, and native Americans.

The stories have been skilfully adapted to feature the kind of plants and animals found in Britain at the time: buffalo become deer, and so on. Poignant, harsh, beautiful, sensuous, they marvellously reflect the very direct relationship with the natural that such peoples experienced.

The imaginative performance underlined the potency of storytelling as an art, with its mixture of simplicity and depth of meaning.

The stories - dwelling on the perennial themes of hunger, love, renewal, transformation, sex and death - overlapped and complemented each other, seeming in the end to be all part of one story.

One original element was the use by the company not only of simple musical instruments, but of natural objects - sticks, stones, bone, berries in a sieve - to create "living sounds". These were sensitively used both to support and contrast with the chosen creation myths and fireside tales.

While the 12-year-old in front of me was riveted throughout, the show would normally be suitable for people aged 16 and over, most notably students and teachers of history, archaeology, anthropology and literature.

The company is already working with a number of teachers on the material, and will respond to other requests while the show continues to tour.

I Become Part of It may be heard at various venues this summer and autumn, including the Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, May 16, Salisbury Arts Centre, June 5 and at the Beyond the Border Festival, St Donat's Arts Centre, Llantwit Major, July 4-6. Further details from The Company of Storytellers on O181 969 8401 or 01886 821 576

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