Telling A Story

A few months back I wrote about, for me at least, story telling as a form of theatre and cited the example of the great Charles Laughton who I saw privileged to see when I was very young. There was during those golden days – we all have our own golden days – a form of theatre that chiefly involved a single performer, perhaps with a pianist, who told you a story and in a matter of minutes showed you the life, the heart and the soul of a person.

Ronald Searle’s caricature of Joyce Grenfell may not be the most flattering of portraits (what caricature is?) but it was chosen in 1998 for a stamp to honour this remarkable performer.

The British actress Joyce Grenfell was known in film for her portrayals of Plain-Janes often doomed to perpetual maidenhood or long-term betrothals and particularly as the long suffering Sargent Ruby Gates in the early St. Trinians series. But as marvellous as she was in all her films her most brilliant work was her one-woman revues. They were peopled with an array of characters that she conjured up with little more than a shawl, a cardigan, or a hat. She was often called a “comedienne” however she was more than that. As in real life her people had moments of laughter but also moments that revealed deeper feelings. These are two of my favourites.

The last moments of this little sketch – and most of her monologues only last 5 0r 6 minutes – deliver a gentle thrust to the solar plexus that knocks the wind out of me every time I watch it.

July 13th is a holiday I’m more than willing to observe: it’s National French Fry Day. I’ll have to make a trip to the Chip Shack at Peak’s Quay.

Thowback Thursday

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday and because Eamon Kelly was one of the great seanchaí of our time and his stories truly celebrate Ireland.

Willy Or Won't He

The tradition of the seanchaithe is as old as the history of Ireland – and in fact they were the folk history of Ireland from the earliest times.  Some were servants of the tribal chiefs and it was their duty to keep track of the history and stories of their clan and in absence of written records to pass them on.  Some were itinerant travellers, moving from community to community offering their abilities in exchange for food, shelter and, in times of war, protection.  Others were members of established settlements who told and retold the histories and tales of the community and the country at ceremonies, feasts and events. Their stories, and the art of telling them, were passed on from one to another without being written down in an oral tradition that stretches to the earliest days of settlement on the island.

They should not be confused with the…

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