“At the wedding there must be a storyteller,” said Grandfather, gripping Afsana’s hand with his smooth, cool fingers, “there must be someone to tell our story. To mark this moment for the community. There must be someone brave enough to stand up and both be witnessed and bear witness.”
“I can’t tell your story,” gasped young Afsana as the rain continued to pitter-patter against the roof-slates, “I can’t speak in the way that you do. I can’t… I just don’t know how…”
“If you can’t tell it then write it down,” said Grandfather, his voice softer yet somehw louder than the falling rain, “if you can’t write it down then sing it in notes clear and true. If you can’t sing it then paint it in rainbow colours. If you can’t paint it then turn it into a philosophy or an ideal. If you can’t do that then make it into numbers or something that nobody has ever imagined before. And if you can’t do that then place it in your heart but don’t lock it away, not ever, and wait until you find someone who is like a key to the truth within you. Wait until you meet someone who has the ears to hear and then, on that day, may the all compassionate, the all loving, the all merciful Allah give you the courage to tell our story, to sing our song … for if we have the courage to tell our stories then part of us will never die.”
‘THE STORY MAN’ is a touring project working with children in 8 local primary schools in Calderdale. It weaves together the memories of local Pakistani Elders to create a moving and deeply informative education workshop that explores the issue of migration, establishment of community and belonging and builds shared tolerance and understanding.
Over the past 6 months national and international news has been dominated by images and stories of people leaving their homeland to escape war and/or persecution. But the experience of migration and journeying is a historical and constant phenomenon and we need to find a way of helping our young people understand how and why people travel to a new land in search of a better life.
Working with ace storyteller Peter Findlay and dance artist Natalie Speake ‘The Storyman’ workshops in draw on reminiscence from Elders from the local Pakistani community about their journey to the UK 40-50 years and how they worked to establish their own community, rich in culture and tradition.
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This project is part of Creative Communities, supported by the National Lottery through The Big Lottery Fund.