Christmas storytelling

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This week, a storytelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight written and performed by me, and filmed and produced by the fantastic Channel 7a, will play in four 10 minute episodes released daily on YouTube. You can watch the first episode here

The episodes will go out on 22, 23, 24 and 25 December. Chances are you will have other stuff to do on at least the last of these days (Santa is stiff competition) so they’ll remain up for you to watch at your leisure over the Christmas season. 

Please do give it a watch – it’s similar in style to, but not the same as, my one-woman-show Green Knight which played at the Edinburgh Fringe this year (you’ll find more about that on my website here). The episodes going out before Christmas are a straight storytelling, and not a version from the point of view of Lady Bertilak, as the Fringe show was (although Lady Bertilak will definitely be back with her side of the story in 2018!) Also, it’s an armchair version – with a little bit of outdoor storytelling thrown in (recorded in the woods at -5C – next time I will have thermals under that dress).

Christmas is a perfect time for storytelling. However, I’ve always particularly wanted to put a version of this story out at Christmas time as it’s during the Yuletide festival that the Green Knight bursts into the feast at Camelot and Gawain’s quest begins. Most of the rest of the story then plays out during the following Christmas and new year season. But the connection runs deeper than that, because the theme of the passing of time and the brevity of mortal life, which is such an undercurrent in the fourteenth-century poem on which this is based, always seems to me to recall the short, hard, bright days of mid-winter. And every day this month when I’ve been out and about in bitter cold under the glorious winter skies, it’s struck me how winter captures the life described by the Gawain-poet – hardship and beauty, a freezing burst of colour.

Of course, there’s also some serious feasting and partying – which you’ll hear about in episode one of the storytelling. 

This is our first of what we hope will be a regular streamed series of storytellings in 2018. The awesome Sandy from Channel 7a and I worked together on trailers for Green Knight in the summer, and he approached me with this idea for online storytelling after we’d recovered from the Edinburgh Fringe. We’re both very excited about this project. It immediately brought back lots of happy memories for me of Jackanory in my youth – and of a particularly brilliant telling of the story of Odysseus by Tony Robinson on children’s TV back in the day. So we have lots to inspire us and to aspire to. 

If you’d like to read more about the medieval poem on which this telling is based, the description on the website of the British Library, who hold the only surviving manuscript, is a good starting-point. Michael Smith of Mythical Britain, who’s publishing a new translation of the poem with beautiful linocut prints in 2018, has written some really excellent blog posts about it. The poet Simon Armitage made a fantastic documentary with the BBC about the poem a few years ago, and his modern translation is wonderful.

So, pull up a comfy chair, tuck into a mince pie and tune in to our broadcasts. We hope you enjoy.

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