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Early Years Residency

Early Years Residency

Hello, my name is Noah. I am a singer and theatre maker. I came to the Village on a four-month artist’s residency, to work with their early-years programme.

As a neurodiverse person, I’ve always been interested in communication. What people say isn’t always (or is often not) what they mean. I found that decoding those complexities, and learning to make myself understood, took a huge amount of effort. Very young people depend initially entirely on non-verbal expression, and while adults often read these expressions well, there is a lack of free-play between adults and children. Through my physical theatre and vocal practice, I experiment with alternative ways of communicating and connecting with people; finding the ‘rules’ to be significantly more straightforward. In the work I did with the Village, I wanted to offer these tools for play, communication, and bonding within families. I worked to develop activities that families could play at home, or out in the world, using movement and noise-making to facilitate interactions between parents and children.

The Village’s community-learning approach (involving adults directly in storytelling activities with their 0-5’s) was a perfect place to explore these interactions. I started observing Miriam working with the 0-5 age group, and getting a sense of the activities that resonated most with the families. I began my involvement by suggesting sound and movement activities for the sessions. I wanted to encourage the young people’s own interests, to empower and support them to follow their own curiosity, and to bring their adults with them on that journey. Sometimes this led to sessions looking quite chaotic!

During the four months that I was the artist-in-residence, a lot changed for the families and young people at the Village. Spring turned to Summer, and some of the youngest people I met at the Village took their first steps! They changed so much it was impossible to plan for them, so I was obliged to engage with whatever interest/mood/level of focus they were bringing on the day – this meant really letting them lead. Autonomy and child-led exploration formed the foundation for the games and activities we developed. In so many cases the young people either knew instinctively what to do or made something totally their own – showing the adults in the room how to play.

We developed a workshop for families in the local community, working with The Warm Place, Make Do & Grow Toy Library, and Govan Tots in order to deliver it. This workshop explored the child-led sound and movement based activities we’d been working with, plus some new games developed especially for the workshop. It was lovely engaging with more families and getting to know a couple more of the community organisations in the area. It was also great to see how new groups of young people interacted with the activities.


I’m so grateful to the Village for this opportunity, and for all the families I had the chance to spend time and explore with.


Some Feedback from our participants:

Myself and baby loved every minute of the singing and story telling.

I feel there was good balance between songs, story and crafts.

Keep being a happy and positive place for families!


Back to the Resource Page


November 8th, 2023|Categories: Project|0 Comments

Collaborative Projects: The Tall Ship

Collaborative Projects: The Tall Ship

November 2022 saw me skipping university to spend a week aboard the tall ship Glenlee sharing the story of apprentice Ernest ‘Andy’ Andersen with local Glasgow schoolchildren. I first met Andy a few months prior, upon my successful application to be the storyteller on the ‘Apprentices Tale’ project. I am a traditional storyteller, generally working with myths, legends, and folktales. This project was my first opportunity to engage in professional historical storytelling. I was tasked with bringing Andy’s logbook, which charts his journey from Sydney to Cape Town in the final months of WWI, to life in an interactive storytelling piece aimed at school groups.

Andy’s logbook came to me as tidy pdf email attachment, a stark contrast to the scrappy exercise book he had scrawled in over a century ago. Sitting on the floor of the copier room in my university library, printing out page after page of neatly typed transcription, I began to read. I fell straight into Andy’s world. I found a sarcastic, funny, principled, often grumpy, often bored and constantly hungry young man. He was a teenager – just a year younger than me. The logbook shifts between attempts to emulate the stiff professionality of a captain’s log, the informal grumbling of a teenage diary, and surprisingly beautiful descriptions of the stillness and calm of ship life ocean while the war rages chaotically on. An ordinary lad experiencing extraordinary things.

When developing Andy’s logbook into a storytelling piece I struggled to find an angle. I wanted to be true to myself and Andy, avoid ‘becoming’ him or info dumping, and be as engaging, dynamic and entertaining as possible. The amazing Dan Serridge was a fantastic mentor, helping me puzzle through my avalanche of ideas, finding the thoughts that shone and encouraging me to think about the ship itself. Instead of telling Andy’s story linearly, I decided to frame Andy and myself as fellow apprentices – me of stories, he of the ship – and choose a few ‘episodes’ from his log – small, everyday adventures about the antics, animals, shanties, friends and storms that gave revealing insights into life aboard ship and the character of the teen who wrote about them.

Performing Andy’s tale to school groups throughout the week was incredibly rewarding. The endless rain, deafening bridge construction and the roar of traffic on the AB14 faded away as I introduced class after class to Andy, the Glenlee his friends and his adventures. Each group drew different elements out of the piece. I had young Primary 4s enthralled by the enormity of the ship, bursting with questions, who loved hunting for the missing ships cat. I had high schoolers who could’ve been Andy’s contemporaries, awed by the idea of leaving their families to sail across the globe during a war. They reminded me of just how young Andy was, and when they laughed and joked together, I could almost hear the echoes of Andy and his friends teasing and playfighting on deck. We even filmed the piece with a talented videographer, creating a permanent record of the live experience I shared with the kids (as well as the several rather embarrassing TickTocks that were filmed). Over the week the piece strengthened, as I perfected the poetry of Andy’s story and navigated the ship with more ease. By the final weekend I was dreading saying goodbye – to Andy, the kids, Lauren – Learning and Museum Manager who ran the project with such enthusiasm and definitely kept me sane – the amazing crew, and the story itself.

On Saturday – the final day of the project – I met Andy’s granddaughter, who had travelled up to see the performance. We had emailed before, and she had been incredibly supportive and encouraging. We had a chat before the final show, and she and her husband showed me so much warmth and kindness. I’d felt such immense responsibility as a young, relatively inexperienced creative professional to take care of Andy’s story for them, so their enthusiasm was a huge relief. The final performance was not to children, but to the Friends of Glasgow Museums and Andy’s granddaughter. During the show I sing a shanty Andy mentions in the logbook – Rio Grande. I had spent hours listening to versions of the shanty on Spotify – while running, writing essays, doing dishes, and researching the project. It had become a soundtrack to my life for months. When I lifted my voice in the chorus, I found 40 voices lifted with me, reverberating throughout the ship. I could almost see the shapes of Andy’s crewmates sitting on deck, singing to the wind. Their silvery shadows seemed to hang in the air as I finished the show. That final performance was my favourite – everything I’d learnt culminated perfectly together. Later that day, forehead pressed against the train window, watching the Glenlee’s masts fade behind me, and I wished I could begin the week again.

Andy will stay with me for the rest of my life. This has been the first major commission of my professional career, my first significant piece of applied, commissioned, historical storytelling and will be a reference point for future projects – I would love to spend the rest of my life teasing out stories of ordinary people’s adventures from floorboards and rigging. But most of all I’ll remember the lad I came to know through his words. He went on to marry and have children, dying peacefully on land, but to me, and the children I shared his tale with, he will forever be eighteen.

There are over 100 children in Glasgow right now who carry a memory with them. A memory of a storyteller standing on the hatch of a Glasgow built tall ship beneath towering masts, swaying in the wind, shouting out a story to the sky. A story of a young lad just like them, an ordinary lad, who experienced extraordinary things.


– by Ailsa Dixon

February 3rd, 2023|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Welcoming our Placement Student

Here at the Village, we’ve been very lucky to work with some wonderful placement students over the years, who are an amazing support to our small team. We’re delighted now to welcome Shuhan, who will be with us at The Village until December. Shuhan will be working partly alongside the Creative Communities team as well as assisting with social media & marketing. Here’s why Shuhan was drawn to working with us…

I am Shuhan and now studying at the centre of British Studies in Humboldt Universität zu Berlin.  Since my childhood, my memory has been always linked to storytelling. In China, we have many different folklores, and those folklores were used to accompany me every night when I went to bed. When I was a child, I was always enchanted by my grandparents and parents’ stories because the stories of them could flash some images to the age when they were used to live. 

Storytelling has its own charm, not only to the listeners, but also to the storytellers. People could be inspired from hearing others’ stories as well from telling stories to other people. The power of storytelling is one of the main reasons why I want to take my placement with the Village Storytelling Centre. Storytelling being used as a way of artistic output is more interactive than other art forms, and I am excited to see how the interaction goes and how everyone is involved in storytelling sessions! 

Besides, my degree in English language and literature did not cover much about Scotland, I also want to experience more cultural activities and natural landscapes in Scotland. I am very looking forward to being in Glasgow and starting my placement!

We’re so glad to have you on the team, Shuhan!

October 26th, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Introduction to Storytelling Course, March 2020

Introduction to Storytelling Course, March 2020

This spring, before the lockdown, we had a short and sweet “Introduction to Storytelling” course as part of the adult training programme at the Village. On the last evening, some people shared a full story for the first time in the course. Wow! I was so impressed with the talents and personal integrity these people brought to the act of storytelling. Each story was not so much of a performance, more of an invitation to spend time getting to know them – at their most authentic and open – through a piece of skilfully conveyed make-believe that means something to them.

There was a lovely variety of styles in the room. One person shared a dramatic myth he knows from his childhood; one person put a short story by a famous American writer into her own words (beautifully, subtly); another person made us laugh out loud with a classically mischievous folk tale passed on by a line of well-known Scottish storytellers; another person took us somewhere else entirely with a surreally fun, absurdist domestic drama they have written. The group had an open sense of what the word “storytelling” can mean. I felt safe in the hands of each teller, and as a listener I was enabled to trip from style to style, genre to genre, easily. Not everyone chose to share a story, but everyone listened with respect and curiosity. ‘Twas a GOOD round of stories. It felt just right.

That was back on a dark evening in early spring. We did not know that ‘lockdown’ was coming! I am looking forward to more evenings gathering together with new acquaintances, colleagues, friends and family; Zoom will have to do for now, but with all my heart I look forward to a scene I’m concocting in my imagination: a crackling campfire, bums squeezed onto bumpy logs, face alternately too hot or too cold as the wind blows the smoke about, a sticky marshmallow on a stick, a storyteller’s voice that you can’t always hear but sometimes do –  messy technicalities of being physically present with other humans. I toast my toasted marshmallow to the future.

-Naomi O Kelly, Storyteller
May 27th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments