Well, that’s my first Dreamfired done and dusted. It was a really good night – more people need to know about the Storynights.
First up was banjo virtuoso Bill Lloyd. He’s a legend in Cumbria and the north, and he didn’t disappoint, starting with a haunting ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, and segueing into a range of folk songs from America and Ireland. My storyteller uncle Rich Sylvester had the next slot, relating an anecdote about exploring the London Olympic equestrian venue at midnight with a bellyful of Russian beer. It was very funny. Rich is an extremely affable raconteur, and his stories are always engaging – I haven’t seen his work for a few years, and it was great to be part of the audience.
I was on after Rich. I’d decided to get into the traditional spirit by performing without notes. In the minutes before going onstage, my nerves were worse than ever, but I settled fairly quickly. I read two stories I’ve been practising lately – Circle Stone and The Lion Tamer’s Daughter. I stumbled once in Lion Tamer, and for a moment I thought I would go entirely blank – but I recovered, found my place and delivered the rest without a hitch. Circle Stone is an extremely quick flash piece of only 75 words, and it’s surreal enough to counter the darkness of Lion Tamer. The two work well in combination, but I’m going to semi-retire them now. They’re both destined for my flash fiction collection Marrow, and I’ll try and get them published elsewhere first, but I’ve read them a lot recently, and it’s time for some new material. On reflection, though, the reading went well. I don’t think I’ll make a habit of performing without notes, but Dreamfired was a perfect place to give it a whirl.
After me came a poet, whose name I didn’t catch, who read some playfully nostalgic pieces; and then a story about a 21st century Grim Reaper. Bill Lloyd returned to round off the first part of the night with another couple of songs – his cover of Frankie’s Gun, which I absolutely love – it was Bill who introduced me to the music of The Felice Brothers – and one of his own compositions, a haunting Armenian lament.
This is what Frankie’s Gun looks like:
After the interval came Emily Parrish, aka Scandalmongers. She walked onto the stage singing and beating a drum, and launched without preamble into the Norse creation myth. Her show explores the role of Loki, the trickster god, and all his jealousies and cruelty and fun. What made the show all the more remarkable was the way she entwined Norse mythology with her own childhood. The transitions between the Cotswolds and Asgard were frankly astonishing – from the top of a perfect climbing tree to the horrors whispered into Baldr’s troubled brain. It was lyrical, visceral and intense, and it left the audience stunned.
Loki comes highly recommended from me – catch it if you can.
Thanks, too, to Kat Quatermass, who organises and hosts Dreamfired. Lovely to meet her after months of email contact. I’m definitely going back in November to catch Peter Chand performing Grimm’s Sheesha.
What’s next for me, then? I’ve been thinking about my novel edits for a week or so – a process I refer to as ‘brewing’ – and I’m almost ready to start work. I mentioned in a previous post the structural changes I need to make, and my uncertainty about how to make some of those changes. That has passed. I now know where that character is going to enter the story. Although it means a lot of work, I feel secure in the knowledge of how to do it, so a lot of that worry has eased.
My next booked reading is at the Brewery’s Spoken Word night in February, though I’ll try and land a few more open mic spots before then. Stay tuned. And go to Dreamfired.