True Stories on the Heath II

Possibly something to do with the Olympic opening ceremony…? We’d taken over 100 bookings, not to mention lots of phone calls and urgent textings on the day(where is it, can I bring my friend,etc). But we ended up with a very manageable 30 people.

Looking back on the evening, I think the intimate atmosphere was one of the things that made the night so special.

The Heath was eerily deserted as we trekked over the slopes of long meadow grass and found our way to this ancient oak in the middle of the Heath.

The theme of the night was transformation and we had a really eclectic mixture of true revelations from our storytellers. Nigel of Bermondsey kicked us off with a moving song charting the discovery of a mystery uncle who drowned at the age of 8 years old…

Then the lovely down-to earth Grace G. Laycey told us the strange, tragic but ultimately uplifting story of how she came to be a Psychic Medium and Clairvoyant.

Vivacious singer Shaka Lish told us how a close brush with violence when she was 18 turned her life around.

After this we had a short break to allow conversation about all the things we’d heard so far. Nigel and I released a paper lantern into the evening – being careful of course not to set any little birds’ nests on fire!

We also held a Secrets Raffle. The winner, drawn at random, will have a fairytale book cover made of their secret. Of course, being secret, they won’t be able to show off to all their friends about it. Watch this space for the winner.

After the break, I spoke about a, perhaps embarrassing episode in my life where I… well, never mind.

Singer and workshop leader Hannah Rose Tristram talked with great energy and moving honesty about her menstrual cycle and how she finally came to love and accept her body.

It’s always a bit fingernail-chewing to open the stage to the audience, but it’s also the most exciting part. So a big round of applause to brave writer Kassandra Kay, who shared some parts of an autobiographical film script set in the Ladies’ Pond

Stephen Coates of The Real Tuesday Weld closed the show in style with a psychogeographical tale that took us from the mountaintops of Spain to the depths of London’s sewers, finally emerging in Clerkenwell.

It was a goosebump-inducingly special night and as ever the secret ingredient was the audience. It was a thrill to bring together such a variety of people and to see the way that the storytelling broke down boundaries between strangers, opening doors to conversations that would never normally happen. Thanks to them – and to all the storytellers.

I can’t end this entry without thanking the energetic and amazing Verity and Hannah from feminist arts collective Storm in a Teacup.

Plus my sister, Katherine Woolf, who took the photos. Nice, aren’t they?

Plus Nigel, who basically thinks of everything I forget – and got the lantern to fly.

And those storytellers we didn’t have time for. Send me your details and we’ll see you at the next one!