Rewilding Cinderella: Story and Teller Information
The story cycle of Cinderella is one of the oldest fairy tales in the world. It was originally recorded in ninth century China, as the tale of a girl who befriends a gold-finned fish and is guarded and protected by its bones. Versions of it have been told across the world, from Africa to India, South America to Scotland. Many of the versions have a far deeper exploration of human / non-human relationships than the story that we’ve come to know, and the hero, whether male or female, is transformed not just by magic but by the strength of her relationship with wild ones. She is protected by the spirit of her ancestors, and in turn protects the bones of the dead.
At Waterhall Rewilding Site, the Storytelling Choir are delighted to present to you our wild and wondering adventures with Cinderellas, or Ash Children, from across the world. Rewilding Cinderella is a telling of stories and a conversation with them, and we present traditional tales, contemporary tales, and those which exist in the liminal space between. Information about the tellers and their tales are below. We hope that you enjoy it.
Capital City Cinderella
Written and performed by T. Balogun
This poem is about a modern day Cinderella, it’s an opportunity to share the tales of those people who have to fight for things they shouldn’t have to fight for or feel they don’t have a voice. This a reminder that their feelings, experiences, thoughts & ideas are important, they should be told & can be shared, and the platform used in this instance, is spoken word. T. Balogun is a South London based poet, passionate about themes such as inclusivity, diversity, immigration, equality, women’s rights, education and racial justice.
Told by Marina Evans
Mossy Coat is a story from the north of England, originally collected at the start of the 20th century. This story has been more widely spread by written versions from Phillip Pullman and Lisa Schnideau. Marina Evans looks for angles of whimsy and brightness in tales, finding joy in small things like herbs, and moss asking why they fit in traditional tales.
The Orange Tree
Told by Wendy Shearer
The Orange Tree is a creole folktale which originates from Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. It was first translated by Suzanne Comhaire-Sylvain, the first woman Haitian anthropologist in the late 1940s. Wendy has adapted the story to explore the relationship between a cruel step-mother and a young boy who finds his own strength and resilience with the help of a magic orange tree. Wendy Shearer is a London based storyteller who mostly tells folktales, myths and legends from her Afro-Caribbean heritage. She is the author of ‘African and Caribbean Myths & Legends’ and ‘Caribbean Folktales: stories from the islands and the Windrush Generation.’
Mara Pepelashka (Мара Пепеляшка)
Translated and told by Nana Tomova
Mara Pepelashka is a traditional Bulgarian Cinderella tale with pagan roots, calling forth the protection of the Mother Goddess, symbolised by a cow, and highlighting the importance of ritual honouring of the deceased. It is a story about coming of age for a young girl, and the challenges in family and community life that can follow; a story intertwining ritual, village life and the natural world. Nana Tomova is a Bulgarian born storyteller living in Sussex. She translates and brings never before heard Bulgarian stories to an English speaking audience. Her passion is bringing old tales into nature, and dispensing healing stories as medicine in her Story Apothecary podcast for the heart, mind, soul and for the earth.
Told by Kestrel Morton
Drawing inspiration from the Greek tale Little Saddleslut, collected by Edmund Martin Geldart in 1884, Kestrel has woven a new 'Cinderella story' that confronts ecological destruction and calls for a rewilding of our urban spaces. Set in a suffering city whose people value gold over all else, this story tells of the consequences of unchecked greed and the power of love embodied in the planting of seeds. Kestrel Morton is a South Wales based storyteller whose wild voice speaks from the wasteland edges where mythic otherworlds overlap with this one.
Hana and the Mountain
Told by Laura Sampson
A hybrid of Japanese variants Ubakawa (Crone-skin) and Hanayo-no-Hime (Blossom Princess), this story is of a young woman whose magical disguise - an old woman’s skin given her by a Yamamba (mountain crone-goddess-bodhisattva) - helps her find love, and home. The skin’s power to disguise, disgust, entice, and cross worlds drew Laura to create a retelling that explores ‘passing’, the nature of ‘thick skin/disguise’ and female ageing. Laura Sampson is a London-based storyteller whose Japanese Noh studies have led her on many adventures. Fascinated by human/non-human relationships, she tells stories about big emotions and surreal situations from all over the world.
The Wonderful Birch
Told by Joanna Gilar
The Wonderful Birch is a story from Karelia, on the Russian-Finnish border. It was recorded in Karelia by E. Lonnrot, in 1836. In this version, the heroine is turned into a deer by her stepmother, and both stepmother and stepsister are burnt at the end of the story. This telling has been adapted to reinvigorate the relationship between the young women and explore what it means to choose to shift one's skin. Dr Joanna Gilar is a Sussex-based storyteller with Eastern European roots. She is founder of the Storytelling Choir and passionate about telling stories which reinvigorate our relationship to wild world.
Told by Gauri Raje
Mah Pishooni is a widely known story in Iran, and part of women’s rituals in Afghanistan and north-west Pakistan. This version has been adapted from the well-known Mah Pishooni story and an Iranian family variant. Gauri Raje is an Indian migrant storyteller and anthropologist based in Scotland. She is fascinated by myths and their power to hold community memories, and has been increasingly working with the ways in which stories allow migrants to create a relationship with the land they settle in.
By Philippa Snell
This story is Philippa’s own life story, created in response to the Cinderella variants explored in the making of this performance. Philippa Snell is a community choir leader, a forest school leader and an artist/theatre maker. Philippa is passionate about folklore, rewilding everything and the therapeutic benefits of creativity.
Written and told by Sophie Gibson
Ashley’s Tale is a contemporary Cinderella, inspired by real stories of women who experience homelessness and the wonder of traditional tales. Sophie Gibson is a Brighton based storyteller, writer and facilitator, who works at the intersection of reality and wonder. She is passionate about social and environmental justice and finding ways to weave the extraordinary into the ordinary
The Broken Pitcher
Sung by Heulwen Williams
Once upon a time there were two sisters, one called Orange and the other Lemon... Collected in Sheffield by Sidney Oldall Addy in 1895, The Broken Pitcher tells the tale of a Mother who loves her daughter Lemon above Orange. Orange breaks the Mother's pitcher when collecting water from the well and a magical fairy mends the pitcher; transforming it to have arms and legs to help Orange with her daily chores. Heulwen Williams is a queer non-binary Welsh folk music multi-instrumentalist and composer, who plays Fiddle, Vocals, and Harmonium. They draw their inspiration from folk music and folk traditions to create new compositions that are steeped in history yet speak to the now.
The Travellers’ Cinderella Ballad
Sung by Fleur Shorthouse Hemmings
The Travellers’ Cinderella is a Duncan Williamson story. Duncan was a Scottish traveller and tradition bearer, his father told him this story and he loved it. One night Duncan told it to his daughters and a niece at Tavit Farm, Cupar, Fife. His wife, Linda Williamson, recorded it (SA 1976/221/A-B, in The School of Scottish Studies Sound Archives). Linda’s transcription can be found in The Cinderella Story by Neil Philip (Penguin,1989). This traveller story is from a rooted people who knew and respected the natural world; it holds the wisdom of how to use your wits to survive. Inspired by Duncan’s ballad singing, Fleur has worked the transcription into a ballad form. Fleur Shorthouse Hemmings is a Sussex Storyteller, singer and teacher of philosophy. She co-runs LunarSea Storytelling Club in Brighton, is a founder member of the Storytelling Choir and the UK’s first Sauna Storyteller.
The Yarrowling and Nutshells
By Hannah Battershell
Inspired by the work of the other storytellers, the rewilded site and the kinships with the non-human found in Cinderella variants, Hannah Battershell has created an original stop-motion animation and some interactive art for the performances. Made using photographs of miniature hand-cut paper collage, The Yarrowling tells the story of a weed that undergoes a magical transformation. During the performances some audience members might find themselves holding a hazelnut which, when opened, contains words chosen by the storytellers. Based in Bristol, Hannah Battershell has exhibited across the UK and internationally. Her work is driven by a fascination for materials, especially paper, and the desire to enchant, to tell stories. Sometimes miniature, always detailed, it asks you to peer into its world up close.
The Story Weaves: Composed by Heulwen Williams, lyrics by Heulwen Williams and the Storytelling Choir
Dance to the Ball: Composed by Heulwen Williams and Marina Evans
Seed Song: Composed by Heulwen Williams, lyrics by Joanna Gilar, performance by the Storytelling Choir
Thanks so much for joining us for Rewilding Cinderella. As this was an Arts Council funded performance, we would very much appreciate your feedback. Any thoughts / responses will be gratefully received.