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At the very end (12.45am!)

of the Awards ceremony:

one of Iran’s 19 Vice Presidents

(stood centre, in brown)

plus Mama Tok (stood, 5th from right) Alumbeh (Kenya) behind Mama Tok; Anne E Stewart (Australia) stood right;

Waiqui (Peru) kneeling right

The Kanoon International Storytelling Festival is an excellent Festival, from which the organisers of the Sinmgapore Festival have much to learn.  The sheer number of local tellers was staggering. They had all won their place there through regional competitions across the country. (Just the cost of flying every local teller into Tabriz would bankrupt most festivals, let alone the international performers!) They are vocally confident and are not afraid to work the audience. The women far outnumbered the men and were, in my opinion, generally much stronger.  Personally, I’d like to see them become a little more visual in their telling - physicallising characters, or at least suggesting them through a stance or gesture.

In order to make my telling (of The Wooden Sword, which I found in Heather Forest’s excellent Tales Of Wisdom) I adopted a number of strategies to help the mostly Farsi–speaking audience follow the story:

a) I used a scarf which became the King’s (shah!) ribbon; his wrapped headscarf disguise; the cobbler’s mat which he spread for dinner every night; an old woman’s hood (see picture below left) her bucket of water; and a heavy load of firewood (see left)

b) I introduced some sign language  to signify the Shah and the cobbler; the ever-growing chain of food consumed at the four dinners, and the key phrase ‘Day by day I have my faith - and all will be well.’ This, together with the scarf, highlighted the repetitive elements of the narrative and aided comprehension, though my outstanding interpreter, Majid Sufiani, also deserves a lot of credit.

photos by Ramin Mashini

Winning the BEST STORYTELLER AWARD

16th Kanoon International Storytelling Festival, Tabriz (Iran) 2013