Wee Stories bring storytelling sessions to children's theatre
Tall Tales and Saturday Stories at Tron and Traverse
A trip to the theatre usually involves closing your mouth and opening your ears. But once a month, at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre, things get a lot more interactive. Both the ‘Tiny Tales’ and ‘Tall Tales’ storytelling sessions (for ages 6 months-2 years and 3-5 years respectively) actively encourage children to help drive the narrative along.
‘The idea is for our little storytellers to help bring the stories to life,’ says education manager, Lisa Keenan. ‘Our stories are always multi-sensory, and in the past we’ve used water, bubbles, textured fabrics, percussion and even fresh fruit, along with music, mime and movement to stimulate all the senses.’
According to Keenan, having a positive experience with storytelling can give those pre-schoolers taking part the confidence to try drama classes once they’re older. ‘For many children, Tall Tales is their first creative experience at the Tron,’ she says. ‘They come along with their parent/carer and become familiar with our staff and building, before progressing on to attending sessions independently, which we run for ages 5–25.’
One man who knows all about the connection between storytelling and drama, is Andy Cannon. A founder member of children’s theatre company, Wee Stories, Cannon also runs a monthly storytelling session, at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre. Aimed at ages 5+ , ‘Saturday Stories’ give audiences a chance to enjoy Canon’s imaginative performance style up close – and allows him to impart a few stories that won't fit into the Wee Stories schedule.
‘I’ve really enjoyed being able to tell a broad mixture of stories,’ says Canon, ‘and particularly traditional Scottish tales. Occasionally I’ll tell a well known favourite such as Robin Hood or Greyfriars’ Bobby, and at Halloween we had plenty of ghost stories – including one made up by the audience.’
Working with an older age range, Cannon has less need for bubbles and water, but still makes use of the occasional prop. ‘Sometimes I use one or two to help the audience remember who’s who in a big story,’ he says, ‘and as I’m often telling a story for the first time, they act as very handy mnemonic for me!’
Tron Theatre, Glasgow and Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, monthly