Monday, June 27, 2011

Haunted Storyteller

They say the Toledo castle I am sleeping in is haunted.
What they don't know is that it is I that haunts the corridors.
I am seeking my allocated room of three snoring men and one quiet sleeper.
When they said it was shared quarters at the conference of the Federation for European Storytelling, FEST, I thought: another man, a stranger. Perhaps.
Instead, there are four of us breathing the same air in our sleep, waiting for the call to arms.
The corridors are lit by sensor lights that illuminate at your approach. I walk too fast, the lights don't know I am there.
So, the halls I pass through remain dark.
I am the unseen presence. I can see nothing.
I beam in like a bat on the cave of the snoring men; and I am safe.
When the work of the conference is over; I tell my workshop group a story from South Africa told to me in Dublin by a storyteller from Arizona, a year ago.
A rooster is trapped by a wolf who will eat him for lunch. The rooster persuades the wolf to pray and while his eyes are closed the rooster runs away to safety.
Each knows a version from their own country and we elect to tell the story in our own languages, though the lingua franca of FEST is English.
We will tell in Portuguese, Austrian, Irish, Italian and Spanish; no English at all.
Luís from Portugal plays melodeon while we tell our versions in the 200-seater baroque theatre in Toledo.
Luís tells first, then plays for us; then Birgit from Vienna, Brendan from Dublin and Giovanna from Italy.
Alfredo from Chile and Madrid sings a song instead and we all rise, bow, and go home to the haunted castle to find the barman has gone home and the bar is closed.
Drink is sent for and we laugh and talk and drink into the morning in a castle garden looking across the valley to the tiered city of Toledo with its yellow light spilling like gold over the quiet streets.
Over there we told our stories.
For now we are happy.
Storytellers all.
And the ghost smiles.

Storytelling here

1 comment:

  1. And Birgit smiles, too :-) Thanks for this lovely report, Brendan, with an Austrian hug from Vienna!