Blue Mountains Story Circle

The Blue Mountains Story Circle recently held its second meeting. All present were welcomed to the BM Story Circle, under the auspices of the Australian Storytelling Guild, run by Jill and Kiran to provide an opportunity for Blue Mountain storytellers to share their craft, resources and learn from one another through stories and discussions.

Sharing of events (past, present, future)

John mentioned his work with the Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre in the field of mental health. The group he mentored over 10 weeks have written their stories, with some going on to publish their work. The participants have started their own support group too. He will be doing another round with a different group soon and also possibly in Lithgow next year. He’s also finishing up edits to his book about his family which will be published later this year in U.K.

John also kindly brought some books to give away and members will be passing them around.

Shelagh picked up on a few things that John mentioned that triggered her own memory of growing up in the U.K.

Lorinda felt inspired after our first meeting and has gone on to tell to little ones at work (as a librarian at Penrith). She now has 4 stories and has included 2 songs on the ukulele She’s done one 25-minute story twice using participation, props and songs. She realised that with little ones, getting them to join in by just singing the chorus was do-able for them. She also shared some resources with us - see below.

Future projects- she’s planning to do an Anansi story with a colleague. She also mentioned a pop-up library event coming up which she’ll send information about to us.

Jill shared some of her experiences at David Novak’s fabulous workshop (which Lorinda also attended). One takeaway for her was the idea of an “uninvited rule” – where one doesn’t have to be clever or original. It’s okay to be awkward, inept and make a mistake. She felt David facilitated the workshop brilliantly with wonderful scaffolding in his activities. An example was using the power of observation- first the activity of naming something in the room, then describing it, then adding a simile to build a picture, then adding a gesture.

Another activity was what is, not what is happening. We did this exercise with an object in the room-a book - on a dusty table-open to a picture- pages flickering …..

 Jill also spoke about her last gig for a launch in Sydney for a Tasmanian Apple festival which she was held at a pub in the city that didn’t have the ideal set up as she had to be mindful of the tiny tent with fairy lights strung all around. She mentioned telling a story which coincidentally was one that John had planned to tell with puppets later on.

Kiran shared what she’d done in Singapore during her recent trip. She explained there were a few storytelling organisations. For the Storytelling Association, Singapore (SAS), as part of Story Weavers, she performed a story with 6 other tellers to an audience of about 70 that went very well. The president of SAS also hosted a dinner gathering to meet a storyteller from Taiwan.

She also attended 2 story gatherings of the Storyline group, run by The Story Connection which also organises the 398.2 Storytelling Festival in Singapore in collaboration with the National Library Board. She met a Scottish storyteller Michael Kerins and a Filipino teller from Baguio. She also attended a couple of short workshops to prepare for her workshop in India for the FEAST (Federation of Asian Storytellers) conference in November. Kiran will be India all of November attending 3 festivals and a conference.

She’s currently editing the second FEAST book on the theme of Royalty. She brought the first FEAST book to show to the others and John, Shelagh and Lorinda all purchased a copy each (sales of the book go to FEAST).

Stories Shared

John shared a riddle story with the use of 3 animal puppets. A poor man wanting to marry princess had to solve a riddle of “what is a green house with a chimney on the top, no doors and no windows, with a star in the middle?” John brought a granny smith apple which he proceeded to cut to reveal the star.

Jill and Kiran both commented that they told the same story about a bored boy visiting his grandparents and being sent on the same mission. Jill had told this story at the pub and mentioned there was no WiFi and had the children go on the journey with the boy to see who he would meet to ask the question. We also usually mention a red house.

Jill shared a poem called Little Suck-a-Thumb by Dr Heinrich Hoffman.

Other topics discussed

Copyright issues arose out of Jill’s poem. She told the group that her understanding was that in Australia, copyright ceases 70 years after the death of author in MOST cases. Law changed from 50-70 years in 2005 so anything already out of copyright stayed out of copyright. This needs further verification.

Another discussion was about the fees charged by storytellers. We may need to pursue this further.

Versions of The Noisy House were also mentioned. John’s version is called The Squeaky Door (by Margaret Read Macdonald), Kiran’s is A Big Noisy House (picture book by Heather Forest) and Lorinda’s very different version is from:

We also added to our cultural knowledge as apple dumplings, American biscuits and suet were mentioned!!

Resources Shared

From Lorinda:

1. Lindy passed on information to me about the Story Museum in the UK. They have a project called 1001 stories and there is a link to simple searchable oral tales in their website although it is hard to find. The site address plus direct extension to the story collection to date is here


2. I’ll be doing some oral storytelling with the Pop-up library at the Bright Lights community event in Kingswood coming up on: 

Thursday 18 July, 5-7pm, Free

Wainwright Park

Bringelly Road 



3. Folkmanis puppet distributor in Australia: Keiran Arthur is an educator and puppeteer.

Checkout his website: Email:


From Kiran: -David Carroll operates out of Mulgoa, NSW. He has educational toys, puppets and storytelling dolls (Old Woman who swallowed a fly, some reversible dolls) that may be of interest.


From John: 5 books


Next meeting tentatively scheduled for Sunday 28 July 2019 .


Report by

Kiran Shah 28 June 2019

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