For reasons you can’t explain, you feel the draw to become a custodian & caretaker of folk memory & orality. To begin to tell stories or deepen the quality of your storytelling practice.
You want to answer the call to stand in your own storytelling tradition and to carry that tradition forward with integrity, re-enlivening the culture, based on love, honour & respect.
You delight in all forms of cultural expression - from film to books to music to cooking - and want to learn more about the ancient art of storytelling.
I’d like to invite you to consider subscribing to The Akua Storytelling Project Community.
It is an affordable, online forum, a virtual community where you can engage with another way of being in the world, whilst immersing yourself in the story wisdom of Africa & other cultures, which have all too often been dismissed as having nothing to offer the dominant Western cultures.
It is an invitation to use the wisdom of these stories to dig deeper into your own cultural heritage in search of the treasure which was always lain beneath your feet.
It is an opportunity for storytellers, particularly young people of colour, to be exposed to & train with one of the most respected storytellers within the African/Caribbean diaspora.
It is a community of those who delight in the enigma of stories.
I founded The Akua Storytelling Project community as a space for dialogue, for storytellers to train & develop, to amplify storytelling as a performing art and for the exploration of storytelling as a tool for transformational change.
This is a network of those devoted to preserving an oral art form which, at best is tolerated and at worst, is dismissed as having no value beyond being commodified for the business sector.
If you resonate with the above, and with an authentic and honest approach to storytelling as a performing art, as well as the notion that storytellers don’t need to step outside of themselves or take on a mantle of ‘the storyteller’ to communicate the true heart of a story, then this network might be for you…
There are a few levels of training available to you, designed to take you from being an absolute beginner, never having told a folk tale in your life, to becoming a seasoned storyteller, holding an audience in the palm of your hand as you regale them with an entire evening of traditional tales, leaving your audience beaming and full of wonder.
You will find & develop your own authentic storytelling voice, whilst working at five different skill levels:
Parents, teachers and story lovers, have you ever found yourself sitting in wonder, watching a storyteller at work and thinking, ‘How do they do that?’ or ‘I wonder if I could do that?’ A programme of four one-day workshops on four specific aspects of storytelling for absolute beginners & storytelling novices.
Diving a little deeper, with a programme of four weekend workshops, this course will explore performance in solo storytelling. The course is practical and process oriented. It will contain teaching, demonstration, tutoring, guiding and Q&A. There will be some time for group work as well as solo preparation.
For intermediate storytellers who want to focus on that one story they've been dying to tell.
Once upon a time, a woman called Akua went to see the Okumfo (Ghanaian fetish priest) because she was desperate to become a mother. The Okumfo instructed her to carve a wooden doll and carry it upon her back for 7 days & nights, after which time, she would become with child. Akua did as she was instructed and nine months later, to she gave birth to that much longed for baby. Ever since that time the Akua doll has been seen a symbol of female fertility .
Four self-contained storytelling modules for storytellers who have been telling stories, professionally for 2-5 years, have a repertoire of stories and have an understanding & knowledge of the craft of storytelling. Each module will have a specific theme, focussing on particular archetypes, all taking place in a 5m bell tent! This masterclass will happen in situ. Dates & venue to be confirmed.
For storytellers who have been telling for 5-10 years and are asking themselves "How do I achieve the perfect evening’s storytelling? How do I choose and combine the right stories to delight, tantalise or agitate my audience? How do I find the right rhythm and energy for a show? Where do I drop in the right music or a song?" I will guide you through the landscape of your stories.Together with your fellow mentees, you will create, build, examine & explore your repertoire of stories. At the end of your mentorship journey, you will have expanded your range, deepened your practice & created four brand new storytelling programmes. How exciting!
Stories told by me, featured guests and members of this storytelling community.
Featuring films & documentaries from the far flung corners of the world
From Fables to Film, we will invite guest speakers to share their work, their perspective on storytelling & how stories inspire what they do.
A selection of books on storytelling, film, politics, the environment and much more; themes which I love. I hope you will love them too.
I'm a storyteller of African & Caribbean origin. As one of Europe's leading storytellers, I have been performing worldwide for 35 years.
In 2011, I was the first non- German recipient of the biannual Thüringer Märchen Preis, awarded to scholars or performers who have devoted their lives to the service of storytelling. In 2013 I was awarded the Outstanding Female Storyteller prize by the British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE).
As part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, I was the curator for Shakespeare’s Stories, a landmark exhibition that explored themes of journey and identity, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
In 2013 I was awarded a further BASE award for my acclaimed show, The Old Woman, The Buffalo, and The Lion of Manding created and performed with Ivoirian musicians Kouame and Raymond Sereba.
Specialising in stories from Africa, the Caribbean & Arabia. I believe that the folktales & myths which I tell, particularly those from the African continent, invite us all to engage with another way of being in the world, to immerse ourselves in cultures which have all to often been dismissed as having nothing to a offer the dominant culture. I want to take these stories, dive deep into their wisdom and offer them as a healing balm.
'Akua' means 'Girl born on a Wednesday,' in the Ghanaian language Twi. Wednesday is ruled by the planet Mercury which is the planet of communication. I was born on a Wednesday, hence 'The Akua Storytelling Project.'
'No other storyteller embodies and promises to reconnect you with your joy of storytelling, in the way that Jan does. And through it to find one’s voice and power. That was awesome!!!!' Gauri Raje: Storyteller, founder of Silent Sounds (India/Scotland)
'Jan is as powerful a teacher as she is a storyteller. She has guided me to the heart of storytelling with her acute insight and wisdom. She has helped me to lift the veil of uncertainty that has shrouded my performances in the past, revealing a deeper truth and authenticity in my work' Alice Fernbank: Storyteller (Scotland)
'Jan provides a constant standard of integrity and skill that guides and furthers my craft. She is uncompromising yet full of love, helping me see through the artifice in my storytelling to cherish the pure gold at its depth. I'm more self aware in my telling, more at ease yet more controlled, more present to the story to let its genius unfold into the room. Direct contact with Jan has been an unrelenting gift. Whenever I think of her, I'm filled with gratitude and warmth.' Simon Hodges: Storyteller, founder of Storyourself (The Netherlands)
Working with Jan has been a huge step forward to understand and trust myself as a storyteller. Jan helps us to have high expectations for ourselves, yet makes us feel at ease and is so sensitive, that you can miss all the work she’s putting in. That is, until you finally tell the story you've been working on and everything falls into place! She encourages us to work in our mother tongues; I once watched a fellow student tell her story in a language no one else spoke and we were all moved to tears. This is powerful stuff. Working with Jan, you quickly gain a deeper respect for stories and the art form. Alongside the teaching, Jan has a way of creating space for fostering friendships and building community. Our cohort is still in touch with each other 3 years later! Jordan Campbell: Storyteller (UK/Jamaica)
Ps: Just so you know; you don’t have to become a subscriber to access any of the courses here but you might want to consider it because
"As the world gets more confused, storytellers should become more centred. What we need in our age are not more specialists, experts, spin-doctors. What we need are people deeply rooted in the traditions of their art, but who are also at ease in the contemporary world."
"Storytellers are the singing conscience of the land, the unacknowledged guides."
Ben Okri, The Mystery Feast: Thoughts on Storytelling