The ‘thin place’

Performing ‘The Wild Man’ at the Newport Folk Festival, 2012

I’ve always loved stories. Ever since I was a child I’ve been transfixed by ogres, knights, princesses and strange and wonderful tellers of tales, who I now know were not just storytellers. They were bridges between our world and the spirit world – shamen. 

My bookshelves were full of storybooks before I even started learning to tell them, first to my own boys and then to audiences.

Some stories leap off the page and offer performance possibilities. I appreciate the incredible well of material that has been handed down to us through the great oral traditions of the world.

Performing at the Road to Recovery Black Saturday Bushfire Benefit Concert, Castlemaine, 2009

Sometime, they were written down and solidified, codified, fixed. That’s not how they should be, They’re living, breathing things. I’m grateful they were fixed at some stage, because our culture is losing its ability to tell stories, so they could not have survived any other way. Our ‘storytellers’ today are from Hollywood, but breathing life into old material is immensely rewarding.
Any performance material is open to many different interpretations, and the beauty of old stories lies in their power, their multiplicity of meanings and interpretations and, quite often, their mystery.

They have survived so long because they have power. They have been with us in many case for thousands of years. It’s difficult to imagine a Hollywood movie still being relevant after such a long time.

Words on the air have power. They can take us to ‘the thin place’, that place where our world and another intersect. They are a force, with the capacity to touch and move us.

And in a world in conflict, they can help us, they can even change us for the better.


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