Peter Fernon

Over the fifteen years I have worked as a storyteller my ideas about what a storyteller is have changed. I started working in primary schools with my own inventions like “Enoch the Crab” and “Zanaqui Jones” but as I progressed into stories for adults I came to see that the job of a storyteller is not primarily to invent like the novelist but to tell the stories that are in some sense already there. This lead me to some of the great epics that dwell on the border between an older oral tradition and the early literary practice that recorded them. Thus “The Odyssey” and “The Epic of Gilgamesh” have a reality beyond the literary artefact by which we know them. Likewise in creating a piece of music theatre with a group of elderly people or children, I am not simply fabricating out of my own imagination but I have entered a common space of group consciousness belonging to a particular time and by following the hints and glimpses afforded me I have uncovered  “Courage Now and Then” from the Trentham Hostel and “The Emerald Dragon” from Bullarto Primary School. There are many other examples. Most recently I have worked with the research of others to produce a piece about a local hero, a doctor, Gweneth Wisewould who ran a general practice between 1938 and 1972 in Trentham. I also used the research done by members of my family to produce a five generation saga of my own family “The Wheel” and currently I am working on research done by the Trentham Historical Society to find a story about spud diggers in the 30’s and 40’s.

The process of story telling has also been a process of discovery. After doing a couple of degrees I thought I might try journalism, then switched to teaching. I studied teaching and discovered drama. I studied acting and discovered singing. After acting for a few years, I went singing and discovered performance poetry. I did some of my own theatre and discovered shadow puppetry and in doing shadow puppetry I discovered story telling and there I stopped for it seemed to me story telling included all the things I had become interested in. The last fifteen years have been a process of reintegration, bringing all my past history to bear on story telling. I’m interested in working with any individuals or groups who have a story they want to uncover and in developing storytelling as a performance art.



I have been working as a story teller for about fifteen years, first as a children's storyteller working mainly in primary schools then as a storyteller for adults as well as working with children and adults to help them tell their own stories. Storytelling is an art that can contain all others and as such I am, to varying degrees, an actor, a singer, a puppeteer, a performance poet, a playwright, a visual artist and a song writer as well as a teacher.
When we say we want our lives to have meaning, we mean that we want our lives to be story like.


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