I have always loved hearing people's stories. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I used to beg my mum and dad, uncles and aunties and my grandma to tell me stories about when they were young. I remember the time my was caught 'cheating' on exams at university and then meeting my dad after she was made to leave the hall. The story of how my grandfather proposed to my gran on their first date and then got married 6 weeks later because 'there was nothing else to do after the movie finished'. Or the tale of how my uncle got a scar on his head because his uncle lost his temper and threw a spade at him. I always wanted to know more, the context surrounding these stories, what life was like in the 60s, 70s or 30s and I loved hearing them again and again and again.
I still love listening and I wanted to give people a space and a platform to speak about their own lives freely and without judgement. A night called Natural Born Storytellers was borne, where people could stand on stage and tell a story from their lives, based on a monthly theme and it's been one of the most beautiful things I've ever created. The connection at the end of the evening between audience members and storytellers is genuine and you know you've witnessed something amazing watching people speak their own, personal 'truth' whilst telling stories and giving strangers an insight into their self.
It was this core value of 'truth' that I wanted to explore further. How do we, as humans, convey our own personal truths? Storytelling is an obvious medium, but there are artists who rap, dance, clown, sing, cook, create, paint and so many other things to express their personal truths. I wanted to create a festival that showcases these personal truths and how we tell them. The idea for Tellit was born.
Through running Natural Born Storytellers I have encountered many wonderful people who not only love the events, but also share a vision that true-life storytelling can have a profound and transformational effect on people. Kate, who has told stories with us, is someone I connected to immediately and who shares a similar passion for truth and story. Tim, a digital marketer and audience member has not only become a regular storyteller with us, but someone integral to the NBS team. Jacob, a friend for many years absolutely loves our concept, is a doer and is one of the few people I know who loves spreadsheets and budgeting. I couldn't wish for a better group of people around me.
I thought something bigger than Natural Born Storytellers was needed. Something to showcase the art of story, the art of 'truth' and of what it means to be human. A platform for artists, storytellers, the general public and anyone with a story to tell to be able to express themselves. A festival celebrating grassroots storytelling as well as the more polished theatre productions that come from experience. I thought about whether to focus the festival on 'storytelling' or on 'truth'. It was tough to weigh up which I felt more aligned to, but in the end, truth won out. It gives the festival a wonderful scope for not just story, for talks and immersive experiences that bring out our own truth that are based on sharing and connection and not simply where we receive the entertainment, but where we are actively part of the experience.
Tellit: A Festival of True-Life Storytelling is what we're creating in year one. I would love this concept to work as it's something my team and I have put our hearts and souls into making happen and it's something I hold very dear. And it's just year one. I cannot wait to see how this develops in future years. In the current climate, I think we could all do with a large dose of the truth.