Wish I’d been there, but in fact I enjoyed this extraordinary evening from the comfort of a converted bakehouse in Blackheath.
It was organised by Eltham’s finest, Storytelling in Hope, bringing the best original storytellers to obscure corners of south-east London.
Sef and Raphael’s show was moving and impeccably crafted, with many well-chosen and bizarre images. I found the battlefield scenes especially skilful. In this era of shocking TV images and mass communication, how can a storyteller depict carnage and still keep their audience engaged? Sef and Raphael’s interwoven stories maintained their grip on us throughout the entire evening – gingerbread babies, lion costumes, blood sacrifices, dead horses and all…
And better still, I am delighted to report that the tale ended very happily with a joyfully strange wedding. If you can get to a future performance of this show, go! You will leave the venue with a song in your heart and a head full of astonishing dreams.
Afterwards I was fascinated to hear how these tales have been used as part of the Healing Words Peace Initiative:
Healing Words initiative explores the use of story as a medium to dissolve borders and conflict between people. This work aims to foster listening and self development, build friendships and create together new stories of hope, healing and peace. Since 2007 this work has been developed in the UK, Israel and Palestine, leading to the creation of international storytelling for peace festivals in Israel, with over 3000 participants from various communities in the region taking part and finding a deeply moving and transformational experience.
Sef and Raphael have just returned from some work on Palestine. There were some interesting comments from the floor afterwards along the lines of “There’s a lot of violence in your work…” or “How do you keep your optimism?”
From the discussion, I gathered that it’s not always easy or honest to be optimistic, but there is a sense that stories have to be told for their own sake, that violence has to be spoken of because in some way or another it is intrinsic to all of us.
Listening to Sef and Raphael talk, I got the strong impression that working in conflict zones with people who have experienced war first-hand has raised many more questions than can ever be answered,. The most we can hope to do is wrestle with these issues.
However, there IS room for hope too, and we can look to Northern Ireland to see some inspirational work being done.
So as I work on my own stories, it’s inspiring to see a show which proves that themes of war and violence can be treated both passionately and responsibly.