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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

Catching stories

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With school holidays on our doorstep, and festivals such as Bello Winter Music just a few ponchos away, it’s good to know that our kids are also included in the vibrant programming. Storyteller Annie Bryant spoke with The Echo about her upcoming story parties.

You call yourself a Story Catcher. What is that?

Well it’s kind of a fun way of describing to children where my story inspirations come from, but it’s also a job I take very seriously! All of my stories and songs start in nature – the whisper of a gentle cooling breeze, a hard and heavy downpour, or the feeling of fresh dirt in my fingers. All of my stories really are inspired by the natural world and I love to encourage children to start hunting for their own stories there too.

Why are you always going on about the seasons when we hardly even have four of them here on the northern rivers?

It’s a funny thing to celebrate the European-based four seasons in a country and climate where the Indigenous cultures marked the year by at least six different seasons, which of course is far more suitable. I guess I focus on the four seasons more as a metaphor to understanding the natural rhythms within. The quiet of winter, the celebration of spring, the long days of an endless summer and the gratitude for the autumn harvest – these are ancient traditions and cycles many of us carry within our ancestry and they make great metaphors for children to start processing their own inner world.

Many musicians consider themselves storytellers. What’s the difference for you?

I use a combination of oral storytelling, melodies and music. Singing together is fun and naturally brings children into a listening space, and from there we head off on a story journey together.

Are your stories and songs just for children or do you find adults listen in too?

I often have adults telling me how much they enjoy singing along to my CDs or joining in my Storytents. And parents often tell me they cry when listening to my stories, which I think is a compliment.

The testimonials on your website describe your stories as contemporary folktales and earthy tunes. What inspires your work?

One of the lovely and surprising gifts of parenthood has been seeing the world again through the eyes of a child. That simple magic, beauty and wonder that children so naturally see in the world very much inspires my writing.

You’re heading away to write your next project for children and families. Any ideas what it’s about?

We’ll be living on a farm on the edge of a vast wilderness for the next year and I’m so looking forward to connecting with this ancient land in a way I’ve never had the chance to before. I have a feeling there’s going to be some pretty funny first-time farmer stories in there too!

What’s the one thing you hope to inspire in the little ears listening in?

To celebrate and embrace both the storms and sunshine of life!

Any surprises in your upcoming Story Parties?

Usually we stick with the one season in each show, but this time I’m inviting children to come dressed up as their favourite season (colours / costumes etc) and, through songs, stories and games, we’ll see what kind of strange and wonderful weather patterns we can create together!

You can catch Annie Bryant and her Story Party these school holidays on Wednesday 6 July at 10.30am Mullumbimby Library and 2.30pm Brunswick Heads Library, and in the Story Tent at Bello Winter Music on Saturday 9 July 12.30pm and 3pm and Sunday 10 July 12.30pm.

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