Spinning Unbelievable Yarns
We are all storytellers. Every conversation we have is telling a story. When we go to the theatre, we are listening to someone else’s story, but some are more extraordinary than others. ‘14th Tale’ is an exuberant and touching tale that resembles a legend more than an autobiography. Inua Ellams’ journey from a natural born mischief maker whose exploits have followed him from Nigeria to London, to Dublin and back to London.
Ellams reminds us what theatre is in its purest form, storytelling. Equipped with just a chair and a torch, the poet spins yarns from his childhood to his current predicament. His story is almost a legend, one you wish your own as his knack for trouble making causes the audience to both blush and be envious.
The performance was followed by a talk with the performer and Maddy Costa, a writer for The Guardian and an avid blogger. ‘14th Tale’ has been on quite a journey from the Battersea Arts Centre, around the British Art circuit and around the world to Ellams’ Nigerian roots. He talks about his fascination of putting pen to paper, drawing caricatures of friends and keeping his argumentative nature alive in the form of verse. As Neil Gaiman states: ‘Make Good Art’, no matter the form or reason, Ellams inspires the same in his audience.
Costa preaches the same, the one thing we all have in common, with other nations and with our ancestors, is storytelling. We listen to stories, share stories and use stories to tell our own. How many times have we shared a story that’s not our own, or is our own but we’ve disguised it with the premise ‘a friend of mine’. It is an event that connects us all and art is simply mass communication. Hogarth’s paintings tells us about times gone by and Shakespeare’s exotic settings took it’s audiences to new lands.
The talk ended with some top writing tips from our guest of honour. Costa asks you to think about who you are writing for. Is it for you or an audience, the best person is often yourself. There’s a great pressure to write for someone but if you write for yourself, an audience is just a happy bonus. Ensure your voice is distinctive and read other’s blogs. Ellams also suggests capturing your own voice, revealing mistakes and being the incomplete human we all are. Read a lot. In knowing what is new, you too can be part of that conversation.