November – Phil Okwedy – The Gods Are All Here

Phil Okwedy’s new project The Gods Are All Here is a series of love letters written from his father to his mother. Read more about this myth, folklore and music project as part of Ysbrydoli / Inspire this November.

What is the project?

The inspiration for The Gods Are All Here, a new performance piece that includes myth, music, folktale and poetry, is a series of ‘love’ letters. Written by my father to my mother, they cover the period of my life when they say young children see their parents as gods! But I never lived with either of mine and so, having missed out on that experience, the project explores the letters in order to see whether I, and the audience, can find in them that my parents were in fact gods! My thanks go to Arts Council Wales & National Lottery for their support of the project via ACW’s Stabilisation Fund grant. This funding is allowing me to work on the development of the piece with Michael Harvey as dramaturg/provocateur, voice teacher Pauline Down, and musician Mikey Price.

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

With themes of separation from parents, racism, equality and freedom, the aim of the project is to engage existing, new and diverse audiences by offering extracts of story via a variety of media eg. live work in progress,  filmed  finished extracts, podcasts & blogs featuring  elements of the piece’s creation. These various strands will then be available on a dedicated section of my website as elements of the story that can be explored and as tasters to the time when the whole can be performed to live audiences.

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 was born to a Welsh mother and Nigerian father in Cardiff a long time ago but came to storytelling, or it came to me, via my work as a teacher in primary school 9 years ago. I loved it instantly. It felt like I’d been waiting my whole life for it to turn up so I went on week long course at Bleddfa with Michael Harvey & Hazel Bradley and haven’t really looked back since. Along the way, I have been welcomed, supported and nurtured by a host of tellers, encourages and organisers (you know who you are). I live in South Pembrokeshire where for four years I ran Tenby Storytelling Club. Fortunately, in 2017 the gods, bless them, conspired to offer me the chance of taking voluntary redundancy and I have been making my living as a full time teller since then.

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?

Early on into lockdown I came across a session by African-American teller, Len Cabral via Facebook Live. I had heard his name but never had the opportunity to hear him tell. Introducing his final story, he thanked the teller from whom he had heard it…the teller was Daniel Morden, the tale from his store of Welsh Gypsy stories…the world was suddenly full of new connections and possibilities…

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