Guest blog written by Daniel Morden, storyteller for The Devil’s Violin
As a child I was fascinated by stories. My half-hour walk to primary school afforded me the opportunity to make up a tale: often it would be unfinished when I arrived, so I’d have to walk around the playground talking to myself until I discovered what happened at the end. Sometimes I’d get so involved in the story I’d ride an imaginary horse. In 1989 I became a storyteller and I have been riding imaginary horses for a living ever since.
What makes a satisfying story?
My work is an ongoing attempt to answer the question, what makes a satisfying story? Why does one story stay with us, while another is forgotten in a moment? Why does the plight of a character who never existed reduce us to tears when we struggle to respond to the calamities shown us every day by the news?
In the early nineties I saw a wonderful troupe of epic singers from India. I had only the vaguest idea of the story they were telling, but the interplay between sound, silence, music, song and spoken word made the performance thrilling and filled with drama. Could I create an equivalent performance with musicians here, using European tales and music?
Unexpected twists and turns
The result is The DEVIL’s VIOLIN. We have been touring for ten years. We’ve created 5 shows, which have toured nationally and internationally. STOLEN, which we will perform at the Wells Theatre Festival on 12th July, returns to that first question- what makes a satisfying story? The answer: take a character you like, a decent but flawed human being, give him or her a seemingly insurmountable task, and what happens? They struggle, make mistakes, find inner resources they didn’t know they had and eventually triumph. The plot curls back on itself like a Celtic knotwork pattern. Characters and ideas return in unexpected and satisfying ways.
I am particularly excited to be returning to Wells. We’ve performed there several times before, always in evocative locations. When the show takes place in a church or the grounds of an abbey the audience is already half way to once-upon-a-time.
I am not an actor. I can’t stick to a script. My musicians say they aren’t waiting for cues, but clues. Every night the story is slightly different. The acoustic of the venue, the news bulletins we have heard on the way, the audience response, all of these factors influence how we tell the tale.
I’m not a Luddite: I love cinema and television. But something magical can happen during a live event. It is akin to alchemy. The teller’s performance and listener’s attention combine to create a unique and special experience.
Book tickets for Stolen performed by The Devil’s Violin on Thursday 12th July at 7pm at the Little Theatre, Chamberlain Street, Wells.
Daniel Morden is one of the leading exponents in the art of storytelling. He has delighted audiences all over the world including Vancouver, Oslo, The Hay and Cheltenham Festivals and venues such as The Barbican, National Theatre and British Museum. He was recently awarded the Hay Festival Medal for his contribution to storytelling.