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Campfires Sharing

On Saturday 12 March, our eight storytellers and members of the public, came together for the final sharing of CAMPFIRES with free hot chocolate and marshmallows!

Storytellers, Oli Savage, Theophina Gabriel, Katy Cawkwell, Bryony Reynolds, and Winging It Collective, shared the stories they had created, that had been inspired by workshops, and conversations they had with different community groups. With the incredible work of local prop designer Mel Wignall, the artists sat around a real-ish campfire, each with their own camping mugs, and invited the audience into a story, co-created with the community.

The performance began with a story told by Oli Savage from his time with Lesna Polana, a Slough based Polish folklore dance group. Beginning in Poland, the story followed a few characters from wartime in Poland, to Grove Park Camp set up in Slough, and onto establishing Slough Polish Association. Littered with the perfect description of characters and heart-wrenching dialogue, the performance spoke not only to the community it was intended but resonated as a story for and about all of the diaspora.

Next, we had Katy Cawkwell who was joined by Layla, a member of Slough Young Careers. Full of twists and turns, the two storytellers led their audience on journey taken by Slough’s beloved Station Jim, to a place filled with kindness and magic! Katy, who has been a storyteller for 25 years, and Layla, who’s first time it was performing, swept the audience into the magic of their story, and spoke of compassion in mesmerising ways. As the audience discovers the connection between all the stories, there was a collective ‘ah!’ as the pair captured everyone in their enchanting tale.

To end the first half, Bryony Reynolds, equipped with a box of shoes, delivered a spoken word story, that spoke of the experiences of the service users at Slough Homeless Our Concern. Told through the visualisation of shoes, Bryony takes different pairs of Dr Martins, Derby Shoes, trainers, etc, out of a large donation box and places them in front of the audience to tell the story of the people she had met. Using the words ‘soles’ and ‘souls’, interchangeably, Bryony, metaphorically speaking, put the audience into the shoes of the people she had encountered on her journey.

After more servings of hot chocolate and marshmallows, the second half commenced with a story of humanity as told by Winging It Collective from their time with Chalvey Community Partnership. Using the stories told by the children, as well as the adults, Winging It intertwined verbatim, real-life stories of the community with the tale of a giant! Brilliantly performed between the four members, Winging It used character voices and the camping mugs as props, to share the resounding message of kindness that had sprung from their work with the CCP.

To close the event, Theophina Gabriel, accompanied by the instrumental of legendary song Pass The Dutchie by Musical Youth from 1982, read a poem to and for the community of SANAS (St Kitts and Nevis Association Slough). Hoisting the audience to their feet, Theophina began by introducing them to the two-step, for everyone to get involved and join in. Introducing members of SANAS by name, Theophina’s piece invited the audience into the kitchen with SANAS, even allowing them to taste the food, with its descriptive language.

After each half, the storytellers participated in a Q&A where they answered questions about their process, introduced us to the community groups that had let them in, and told the audience what they had learnt from the experience. The Q&A along with the stories of resilient, strength, love, and kindness, allowed the audience a snapshot into the experiences of different communities in Slough, and gave those communities a real opportunity to be heard. Because in the words of Maya Angelou ‘there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you’.

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“there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you”

Maya Angelou

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