We have seen the joy of storytelling here.  It's beautiful

Now we have seen the enjoyment of storytelling right here. It is stunning

There was a time about 50 years in the past, or the blink of a watch within the historical past of storytelling, when Jemaa el-Fna, the central sq. of the traditional metropolis of Marrakesh, was residence to greater than a dozen khaliks, as Morocco is thought to conventional storytellers. On daily basis of the yr as much as 18 of them carried out to spellbound audiences, incomes a residing from their capability to inform historical tales. They had been a part of the bustling spectacle of Jemaa el-Fna, the place musicians, dancers and jugglers additionally carried out.

However by the flip of the millennium the sq. was altering: it was busier and noisier, and the variety of performers was dwindling. This brought on such concern that Unesco, the United Nations’ instructional, scientific and cultural company, created a plan to attempt to shield Jemaa el-Fna and different, what it known as, masterpieces of humanity’s oral and intangible heritage.

The spectacle of Jemaa el-Fna repeats itself daily and daily it’s completely different voices, sounds, gestures, the viewers that sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches

The spectacle of Jemaa el-Fna repeats itself daily and daily is completely different, noticed the Spanish author Juan Goytisolo in 2000. All the things adjustments voices, sounds, gestures, the viewers sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches. The oral custom is framed by a a lot bigger one, which we are able to name intangible. The sq., as a pure house, homes a wealthy oral and intangible custom.

However the change continued, and inside 5 – 6 years solely two clays reportedly remained in Jemaa el-Fna. Others had been pushed out by the growing hustle and bustle, and by shrinking audiences as tv, films and the web dominated individuals’s consideration. Their exit from the sq. appeared to echo tales of sluggish demise throughout Morocco as an entire.

Then, in September 2019, development started close to Jemaa el-Fna on the World Storytelling Cafe, an artwork conservation effort by Lucie Andersen-Wooden and her husband, Mike, who needed to create an area for storytellers from Morocco and from all around the world. . Fairly quickly, after all, the present was off the playing cards, however the cafe helped hold the storytellers alive after Covid hit. It offered a lifeline for artists and created bonds throughout oceans which may not have existed in any other case. From these connections got here the thought of ​​the Marrakesh Worldwide Storytelling Pageant.

And so it was that, for the eight days between February 12 and 19 this yr, below the patronage of King Mohammed VI, storytellers from 87 international locations gathered within the metropolis, amongst them 5 Irish performers: Maria Gillen, Colin Urwin, Liz Weir, Eimear. Burke and Veronica Chambers.

As a part of the 2023 festivals, the theme of ancestral voices got here tales of affection, life, loss, grief, tragedy and happiness, informed via Arabic, Berber, Hebrew and English, amongst different languages. The Irish dropped at Marrakesh tales of Saint Brigid and the Goddess Brigid, together with myths and legends from Irish oral traditions.

An Irish-American storytelling session was held halfway via the competition on the luxurious Riad Les Yeux Bleus, in central Marrakech. (The riad is a standard Moroccan home with a central courtyard.) Earlier, Maria Gillen, who’s from Cork, informed me about her household lineage of storytelling, which fits again to her great-grandmother. My primary hero was my mother, Gillen stated. He created this factor known as a narrative sofa for when the marriage comes residence from college.

The place will we go? her mom would ask. And the marriage sat on the couch and hearken to a narrative. It actually opened up our imaginations.

Because the Irish and American performers moved from place to position, they informed tales via music, spoken phrase and poetry. Gillen, who was additionally the MC, informed tales from the custom of the Irish bean feasa, or smart girl, utilizing a focal cpla right here and there. Drochta inform me again, Gillen would say, drochta. Accented voices from around the globe would name again: Drochta… drochta.

The competition celebrates tales in all their kinds. Final yr individuals had been requested to inform a narrative with out phrases. This yr, on the roof of a riad positioned among the many metropolis’s bustling bazaars or market streets, a workshop titled Dance Your Story occurred. Its objective, in keeping with Andersen-Wooden, its facilitator (who can also be a psychotherapist), was to encourage individuals to look at the tales they’ve about themselves and others and faucet into their internal knowledge, creativity and pleasure via motion and dance. Via this observe, individuals are capable of let go of unhelpful beliefs, blame, and specific themselves totally.

Urwin, a Co Antrim-based people singer and storyteller with tales of heroism and tragedy, believes the similarities between Irish and Moroccan tradition are evident in a shared ardour for tales. They’re so enthusiastic about it right here, he says. It’s so a lot part of their tradition. Whenever you meet individuals on the bazaars and so they ask you why you are right here, and also you inform them it is for the storytelling competition, everybody understands.

For Urwin, skilled storytelling turned a severe risk after an opportunity assembly with Weir. As a younger singer, making a residing from conventional storytelling wasn’t on his radar. In Eire you go to storytelling occasions and it is often individuals of a sure age that not many younger individuals flip up. However in the event you go to the Comhaltas occasions and the Fleadh and so forth, there are loads of younger individuals doing every kind of recitations and tales, humorous tales, conventional tales… So there may be curiosity from the youthful generations, nevertheless it needs to be gathered and channeled.

Eire has well-liked stand-alone storytelling festivals, equivalent to that at Cape Clear, which was established in 1994 and has been joined by newer festivals equivalent to these in Listowel and Courtmacsherry. Music and humanities occasions additionally incorporate storytelling into their programmes, such because the Willie Clancy competition in Co Clare or the Cork Folks Pageant. If younger persons are into people music and people music, says Urwin, there isn’t any motive there should not be a manner for them to inform the story.

Whereas in Marrakesh, the performers visited faculties within the metropolis to participate in workshops. For Gillen, the fusion of Irish and native tradition was as evident throughout these visits because it was throughout stay performances. Uisce is the title she gave the nice satan in considered one of her tales. When he launched the character throughout a session at a neighborhood college, the youngsters shortly identified that in one of many Berber dialects, a really related phrase means sea.

Now we have seen the enjoyment of storytelling right here in Morocco, the academics we met within the faculties, the grasp storytellers I met within the sq., he says. Once I inform tales in a twin language in one of many faculties, I am going to get a little bit nudge on the elbow from one of many translators. I hear my story within the music of Morocco. It is stunning.

The third Marrakesh Worldwide Storytelling Pageant anticipated to happen in January 2025

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