By Karla Suzanne Ofjord

Workshops in Marrakech with Ine Mariel and Karla Suzanne from StorySquad

We are Ine Mariel and Karla Suzanne, two storytellers from Norway representing the storytelling group StorySquad. This Autumn, 2018, we were so lucky to become part of Confluence and embark on an amazing cross cultural journey together with them. Our very first meeting with Confluence was in Marrakech, Morocco, October 2018 where we were invited to hold two workshops and do one storytelling performance. None of us had ever been to Marrakech before, so this was a huge and wonderful experience itself. The city was like a buzzing beehive on maximum speed in 30 degrees, and the streets seemed all the same. But after a couple of days we managed to orient ourselves and flow with the mesmerising buzz and the heat.

Our first workshop was at Café Clock, the same place Confluence had a photography exhibition and storytelling session the day after. At the workshop we had participants from Confluence, including three young Scottish apprentice storytellers and also a group of young moroccan apprentice storytellers attending. The workshop was held outside on the terrace at Café Clock. The group was really wonderful to work with. They were engaged in the exercises and had a lot of ideas. The workshop focused on stimulating fantasy by improvising stories in group and individually. I think this was a good challenge for several of the participants in the group. There were some who struggled with letting go and were thinking too much about what to say and the logic of the stories we improvised together. Many of the exercises focused on letting go of logic thinking and stimulating the non-logic and our fantasy. Hopefully these exercises worked some magic. We also worked with body language, voice and some storytelling techniques regarding how to use your body to make the space feel bigger or smaller. We shifted between exercises and us having mini-lectures about the different topics. We were also going to work with personal stories, but because we ran out of time we had to leave this part out. Instead we had an introductory talk about personal stories just to get the taste of it. We had a bit limited floor space which didn’t allow us or the rest of the group to move freely around. The participants got unwillingly a bit stuck to their chairs and behind big tables, but this was not a big handicap for us because they were very willing to join in. The workshop lasted for 2 ½ hours, but it felt like 30 minutes. The time just flew away and we had so much fun. It was a fun and wonderful experience to hold this workshop.

The day after we went to The American Language Centre to tell stories and hold a short workshop for students at the centre. We had a lecture on some of the same things as the day before: body language, use of voice, the body in space, aristotelian dramaturgy and traditional Norwegian folktales. This was a very nice experience, and it would have been nice to work with this group again and be able to have time to do more storytelling exercises with them. They seemed very interested and it could have been a great way for them, since they were language students, to express themselves in english through improvisations. There are many storytelling exercises that work perfect in language education. Exercises where you have to tell about yourself to others or describe a picture or the landscape in a story are very good for expanding vocabulary when learning a foreign language. At the end of the workshop we had time to do a very fun exercise that we had done with the group the day before. We call the exercise “draw a note”.

“Draw a note”

This is an exercise in improvising stories based on a role, an object, a feeling and a sentence. All the participants have to have four pieces of paper. On the first piece of paper they write down a role or a character. On the second piece they write down an object. On the third piece of paper they write down a feeling, and on the last piece they write a sentence. The pieces of paper get mixed together in the four categories. The first one up draws the first piece of paper, with a role, and starts improvising a story from the role written on the paper. When the others say next, the one improvising has to take a piece of paper from the category “object” and continues the story, and includes the object on the paper into the story. It continues this way until the person improvising has drawn the last piece of paper and said the sentence out loud.

Samuel Sparrow