Storytelling for grown-ups: food for the soul by Sandra Horn
It was the Great Big Greek Day at the Earth House on Saturday, put on by the Crick Crack Club. It began (after picnics, and by the way, did you know you can get Porn Star Vodka Martinis in a can?) with Ovid’s Metamorphoses, brilliantly presented by two storytellers, Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden, who interwove the tales, starting with the beginning of Arachne, spinning off into many of the other tales, then ending with Arachne’s transformation. Electrifying! I was telling a friend about it and she asked, innocently, if there were many children there. No, these stories of incest, disembowelling, vengeance, you-name-it, are definitely not for children.
Then, unusually, a short academic talk on what we know about the cult of Artemis from ancient artefacts by Professor Helen King, followed by the speaker transforming herself into an old woman (scarf over head) and giving us her story, which turned out to be largely about menstruation – NOT ‘the curse’ but a sacred event; a sacrifice to the goddess and the source of life. It was spellbinding and I met her afterwards and said I wished she would go into schools to tell it. I don’t think she was keen; she muttered about having to suppress the gigglers.
During breaks for meals, tea, drinks, we were entertained by two Satyrs from Acrojou. They were on curved springy stilts and went leaping and somersaulting among us, getting into all manner of rude mischief. Very good fun as long as they were picking on someone else!
There was also lovely, dancey, kletschmerish music from the Trans-Siberian March Band.
The third session was by Alice Oswald, our greatest living poet in my very humble opinion. She spoke her poem Nobody, for the best part of an hour, without notes as far as I could see. It was mesmerising. She described it as ‘a washed-out, watery, washed-up bit of the Odessey’ – or words to that effect, and said it would derange us. If words can drug, that’s what it felt like. When I’d climbed back into my own skull afterwards, I felt very cringey. As part of Jo Bell’s 52 Poems challenge earlier, I’d written a thank you letter to Alice Oswald in the form of a poem, and I gave it to her before her performance – like a silly teenage groupie, but genuinely wanting to thank her for the joy her work gives me. After I’d heard her speaking Nobody I wished I’d kept it to myself, it was so feeble and so trite. At least she doesn’t know me…
Then the fire in the central hearth was lit, it being night, and we finished with Ben Haggarty telling the story of Atalanta in his characteristically vivid and captivating style.
We walked back to the car past a field of poppies, under a three-quarter moon with one bright pendent star, our souls fed and enriched.