Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ghostly Tales with Michael Williams

The "Ghostly Tales for the Telling" competition took place over the summer of 2016. It was sponsored by the National Library of Scotland the and Scottish International Storytelling Festival. The competition was held to honour the 200th anniversary of the writing of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", arguably one of the most frightening and poignant tales ever written.

More than 300 entries were received and the task of selecting the finalists was a difficult (although I'm sure an enjoyable one). Ten stories were selected to be read and performed to an audience at the National Library by a stellar group of storytellers including Claire Druett, Daniel Allison, Tim Porteus, Ian Stephen, Fiona Herbert, and Michael Williams.

In this week's programme, two of those tales are featured - "The Tapestry House" written by Ewan Irvine and "The Winter Visitor" written by Joel Pierce.

"I have a soft spot for ghost tales," says Michael, "although I'm not a fan of the overly ghoulish kind where people get ripped apart. I loved the subtle nature of these two tales. They raised the hairs on the back of my neck. I felt they were a fitting tribute to the gothic genre."

Rather than read the tales, Michael chose to tell the stories, requiring him to adapt the text for an oral telling. "It was not an easy choice," explains Michael, "I wanted to honour the authors' texts but I also wanted to honour my profession as a storyteller. This event was, after all, part of a storytelling festival. So, I chose to learn the stories and prepare them as I would for an oral telling. To do that, I had to create a context for them and my telling. I'm pleased to say that both authors approved of my telling of their tales." 

The recordings here are courtesy of the Scottish Storytelling Centre and can be found--along with other performances from the night--on their YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuS51i5TYePy1z7n622kWyA 

The Teller and the Tale plans to feature other stories from the evening on future programmes.

The Teller and the Tale begins at 7am ET (Can/US), 12noon (UK/Ire), and 9pm (Australia) on Blues and Roots Radio (www.bluesandrootsradio.com).  Go to their website and click on the "Listen Now" button.