Performance Storytelling – A Night Out in York with Eros and Psyche
For me, a visit to the theatre is always something to look forward to, particularly when it’s to the Theatre Royal in York.
There’s something about the place that feels ‘just right’….from arriving in the bar and having a pre-performance drink to the productions themselves which are always stimulating and enjoyable. If you’ve never been to this particular theatre and you’re in York you should definitely try and put a couple of hours aside to check out what’s on offer.
My previous visit to YTR was to watch one of the great Christmas ‘spectacles’…the annual York Theatre Royal Pantomime, a traditional British panto at its best, no soap stars, no celebrity walk-ons, no politicians guesting as Widow Twanky, just terrific family entertainment from start to finish. A party of us go every year. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.
However, onto last night’s visit. The ‘performance’ was not in the main auditorium itself but in the ‘studio’, a small 120 seater (approx) space, which is ideal for one man shows and experimental small-cast productions.
The title of the piece ‘Eros and Psyche‘ was performed by Sally Pomme Clayton, and was billed as ‘merging myth, fairytale and raucous Greek philosophy- performance-storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton undresses the myth of Eros and Psyche to ask what is the path of love…?
Okay, not everyone’s cup of tea, or glass of retsina, but Sally did a great job of entertaining us all with her storytelling….a solo performance spanning two 50 minute sections. And it set me thinking about storytelling.
Isn’t that what we all do as writers? We are just storytellers. Nothing more.
Sally had to get her story across in 100 minutes of speech and music and managed that really well, but as writers we are given more time to develop our characters, set the scene, reflect on back story, have internal dialogue, meander down sub-plot alleyways……but in the end if it’s not a rattling good story we risk losing our readers.
So I just thought I would suggest this….as writers we should all take a look at our novel or children’s book and ask “Is the story any good? Will it hold our reader? Will it make our reader want to keep turning those pages to find out what happens next in the story?”
Sure, we can all come up with novels that break this rule, and why shouldn’t we write something ‘different’, something crazy and original? Fine. But storytelling is an art form that has been around for centuries, and I think we would be well advised to bear that in mind. Give the reader a cracking good story and they’ll come back for more. I’m sure of it.