Michael Harvey – Online Courses (February)

Like most artists and freelancers in the storytelling and events sector, when COVID struck the UK in March work dried up overnight. Welsh storyteller, Michael Harvey lost most of his storytelling work as his main source of income. As someone who teaches storytelling he had been intrigued by an online training course. Testing this out has now led him to develop a new training programme for all different levels of storytelling. Find out a little more about the courses as part of Ysbrydoli this month.

What is the project?

All my work disappeared when covid hit a year ago. I had to think of something else to do, but what? Storytelling is the only thing I am really good at. Then an email from a Canadian online education company called Mirasee popped into my inbox. I had been intrigued by their clear, practical, non-pushy approach for a while and, once I had looked into them a bit more, I finally made the plunge. It was a considerable investment, but they told me if I followed the steps, they told me to take I would earn back my course fee from the pilot course alone – and I did!

I had already done some online storytelling coaching, and, to my surprise, it was much more effective than I had anticipated. So, if online coaching worked, I reckoned that storytelling courses should work online too. Luckily, I was right.

I miss the face-to-face real-time interaction and there are some things, like body and voice work, which I think are best done in person. However, this experience has taught me that there is one aspect of tuition that seems to be consistently much better on-line – students’ self-directed practice after the course is over.

Both of the courses that have already completed went on to develop cohort-based continued learning and online performance opportunities in a way that the residential courses didn’t do to the same extent. Co-coaching groups and an online Welsh language storytelling club are now busily working away independently.

Who is it for and how can people get involved/engage?

The online courses I run are for those with any level of experience and none. It has been surprising how a cohort of different levels of expertise is able to learn together in a way where there is creative equality within the group.

Co-coaching cohorts are starting to evolve from the earlier courses and this will become a feature of my training in the future, as will story-type specific courses (wondertales, myths, landscape based stories etc) and specific forms of telling (bilingual telling and duo telling). Some of my teaching will move to a mixture of pre-recorded and live online sessions to allow space for the co-coaching groups.

I have been surprised by the momentum and in February I’m starting work with a cohort of German speaking storytellers!

(Links at the bottom of the page)

Tell us more about yourself in a short biog. How did you start storytelling? How long have you been doing this? Where are you based etc? How do you work with story?

I became a storyteller at the first ever Beyond the Border festival at St. Donat’s Castle in 1993. The final story was a performance of the Norwegian story the Companion by French storyteller Abbi Patrix. It was one of the best performances of any kind I had ever seen and I walked out of the big top knowing that I had to be a storyteller. I’m pretty sure I was not the only one.

I’ve lived in Cardiff for over thirty-five years and learning Welsh brought me into much closer contact with my adopted home in terms of community and landscape. For one thing, all the place names suddenly meant something and most of them held a story!

Pre-covid, much of my work was based in Wales and I have been lucky and privileged enough to also get work internationally, both performing and teaching. I also work extensively in education and with the Lead Creative Schools Scheme, promoting the new creativity-based curriculum in Wales.

I have been very blessed with the storytelling opportunities that have come my way. A big one is working with the Adverse Camber team on the Mabinogion based stories Hunting the Giant’s Daughter and Dreaming the Night Field. Another is winning a Major Creative Wales Award which allowed me to participate in the 3rd Labo at La Maison du Conte, near Paris, over an 18 month period, working with Abbi Patrix and a stellar group of visiting practitioners including Yoshi Oida from the Peter Brook Company.

Other links
My website
Online training page (English)
Online training page (Welsh)

Lockdown Watch – something you have seen online that you want to share e.g. a video/podcast/online event that has inspired you at this time?

The Forgiveness Project This amazing project was suggested to me by someone I was on a course with. Their podcast ‘The F-Word Podcast’ is also well-worth a listen.

The Spooky Men’s Chorale Many hats, quite a few beards and luscious harmonies.

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English (UK)