The Panel

We now have a new and enlarged Panel, with a wide range of ages, interests and experience in storytelling.

Billie Ingram Sofokleus

Billie came to storytelling after hearing about the Esyllt Harker prize while at the Ty Newydd writing centre. She was born in London, has Greek Cypriot heritage and moved to Wales at 6 and feels that having lived here the longest gives her a sense of belonging to the beautiful sweeping landscape and it has captured her heart, along with the language.

She has since been building her confidence and as an avid reader she has been finding the stories that help tie up any unresolved issues in everyday life. She finds that she has often gravitated towards stories that talked about heritage or stories that she could change for guiding a moral perspective or portraying a purpose.

She is co-leader of a storytelling circle for young people aged 6-12 called Cylch Stori in North Wales with Gillian Brownson.

Recently graduated from the Open University with an MA in Creative Writing and a background in English Literature, Art and Design and a passion for theatre and script.

I love melding forms and genres together and have often found it more comfortable to build, craft and decorate the scene and make props to ensure stories are discovered and portrayed in the best way that I can.

Inspired by a creative family and the recent loss of a beloved pet, storytelling has been the backdrop of understanding grief and overcoming the tension existed around this subject.

Sue Jones Davies

Sue Jones Davies has been an actor, singer, editor and teacher.

She was a founder member of the feminist group Raving Beauties who published 5 books and appeared on the opening night of Channel 4.

After returning to Wales she formed the singing group Cusan Tân with Annie Morgan Jones, performing original work by Annie and her treatments of traditional Welsh songs. The group toured extensively in the States and Norway.

Today Sue is a semi retired yoga teacher. Her interests are gardening and attempting to write cynghanedd.

Mae Sue Jones Davies wedi bod actores, cantores, golygydd ac athrawes.

Roedd hi’n un o sylfaenwyr y grŵp ffeministaidd Raving Beauties a gyhoeddoedd 5 llyfr ac a ymddangosodd ar noson agoriadol Sianel 4.

Ar ôl dychwelyd i Gymru ffurfiodd

y grŵp canu Cusan Tân gyda Annie Morgan Jones, gan  berfformio gwaith  gwreiddiol Annie a’i thriniaeth o ganeuon traddodiadol.

Teithiodd  y grŵp hwn yn helaeth yn  y Unol Daleithiau a Norwy.

Heddiw mae Sue yn athrawes ioga  hanner amser.

Ei diddordebau yw garddio a cheisio ysgrifennu cynghanedd.

Eirwen Malin

Growing up in Wales my favourite teachers were those who told us stories and I was fortunate to have many of them.  In my 20s no-one really told me any stories and I was busy getting on with life.  Then in my 30s I came across performance storytelling for adults and heard the Cri de Coeur from the tellers that unless we, the audience, told the stories they would be lost.  Seeking to save the stories from my childhood I took up the challenge.  Alongside some performing and just like my teachers I used storytelling within work, mostly in the charity sector and largely around personal development it was a natural fit.  Stories contain truth and listeners take the learning from them that they need.  I strongly believe that stories can change thinking and my current areas of interest as a teller are health and climate change.

Until recently, for many years I was closely involved, behind the scenes, with the Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival and Chaired the Management group when it became an independent charity in 2011.  It was both a challenge and joy to steer it through some rock strewn waters, sleepless nights always gave way to happy smiling faces at the festival.  The experience taught me a lot and I am pleased to see it at its new home in Dinefwr and look forward to more smiling faces, stories full of truth, hope, joy and humour.  

I delighted now to be a member of the Chwedl panel both celebrating and developing women storytellers and women’s storytelling in Wales.

Tra’n tyfu i fyny yng Nghymru, fy hoff athrawon oedd y rhai a defnyddiodd storiau ac fe fuais i’n ffodus fod nifer ohonynt.  Yn fy 20iau doedd storiau ddim yn rhan o’n bywyd brysur. Wedyn, yn fy 30au des is ar draws adrodd straeon fel performiad ar gyfer oedolion a chlywais i’r Cri de Coeur o’r chwedleuwyr i ailadrodd y straeon, neu colli nhw. Er mwyn achub straeon fy mhlentyndod ymgymerais a’r sialens.  Ochr wrth ochr ag ychydig o berfformio, yn union fel fy athrawon i defnyddiais y straeon o fewn gwaith dydd i dydd.  Fy ngwaith oedd datblygiad personol o fewn y sector elusenol.  O fewn yr hen straeon sydd wedi cael ei ailadrodd dros canrifoedd ceir gwirionedd ac addysg yn ol anghenion y cynulleidfa.  Credaf yr gryf y gall straeon newid meddyliau ac mae fy niddordeb nawr mewn storiau o fewn iechyd a’r peryg i’r amgylchedd.

Tan yn ddiweddar, am nifer o flynyddoedd fuais yn gweithio allan o’r golwg dros Tu Hwnt I’r Ffin, gwyl addrodd staraeon rhyngwladol.  Cadeiriais i’r pwyllgor rheoli pan newydodd yr wyl i fod yn elusen annibynol yn 2011.  Roedd llywio trwy dyfroedd carregog yn sialens ac yn hwyl ac fe drodd nosweithiau heb gwsg yn pleser pur wrth gweld wynebau hapus yn mwynhau’r Wyl.  Dysgais llawer ac mae’n bleser i weld Tu Hwnt i’r Ffin yn setlo i’w chartref newydd yn Dinefwr ac edrychaf ymlaen at wynebau hapus, straeon llawn gwir, gobaith, mwynhad a hiwmor.

Rydwy’n falch iawn i fod yn aelod o phanel Chwedl sydd yn dathlu a ddatblygu chwedlwragedd Cymru ac yn hybu adrodd straeon gan fenywod yng Nghymru.

Alison Newsam

Hi, I am Alison Newsam.  I have told stories for years in many ways!  To my own children, to children in schools as a visiting librarian, on buses, at fairs and gatherings at festivals and in bookshops (running an adult story group for years) and now on zoom meetings to adults and children.  I am a mother, have been a librarian, a cleaner and an early year’s practitioner amongst other things!

 I have settled in Wales and feel more at home here than I have felt in other parts of the UK ( I was born in Kenya).

I am still learning and exploring the ways in which folklore can answer the human condition and help to salve some of its most difficult experiences.

Barbara Roberts

Barbara Roberts lives in Aberaeron and is eager to promote story telling in the Welsh language to new Welsh speakers and to those whose first language it is.

Mae Barbara Roberts yn byw yn Aberaeron ac mae’n awyddus i hyrwyddo chwedleua ymhlith y siaradwyr newydd a’r Cymry Cymraeg,

Fiona Collins

I’m Fiona and I love telling, listening to and learning from traditional stories.

I grew up in Hampshire, and lived on Anglesey as a young woman.  My son was born there.  Then I went to London to train as a teacher, meaning to return once I qualified, but ended up staying in London until 2000.

I started storytelling by improvising stories from listeners’ suggestions.  This was ridiculously stressful, and I could always see where the ideas for the story had come from: other stories, films, books ….. none of them were ‘original’.  I love Arthur Koestler’s definition of creativity: bringing together previously unrelated frames of thought – which already exist – rather than producing something from nowhere.

When I ‘discovered’ traditional spoken word storytelling at the end of the 1980s, I wondered: Why was I making up stories, when all these amazing stories already existed, shaped and polished by hundreds of storytellers over hundreds of years?

Since then I haven’t looked back, and when I returned to Wales in 2000, I found that telling stories of Wales helps me know the landscape in a truly meaningful way.  I have worked (for years!!) to be able to tell in Welsh, and though I don’t have the rich vocabulary in Welsh that I do in English, I discover more about the stories, the land and the people, through hearing and telling tales in Welsh.

I am passionate about using traditional tales to support Welsh learners.  I am also passionate about supporting the storytellers of Wales, which is why I am proud to be part of Chwedl.  I think my friend Esyllt Harker, in whose memory the Gwobr Esyllt Prize is awarded, would be glad of what is being done in her name.

Fiona ydw i, ac rydwi’n dwlu ar adrodd a gwrando ar chwedlau,a dysgu oddiwrthyn nhw.

Ces i fy magu yn Hampshire, a bues i’n byw yn fenyw ifanc ar Ynys Mon, ble cafodd fy mab ei eni.

Wedyn es i Lundain i hyfforddi fel athrawes, gyda’r bwriad o ddod yn ôl wedi cwblhau’r cwrs, ond o’r ddiwedd, arhosais yn Lundain tan 2000.

Dechreuais chwedleua trwy fyrfyfyrio straeon, gan ddefnyddio awgrymiadau’r gynulleidfa.  Roedd yn straen ofnadwy, ac ron i’n gallu gweld bob tro o ble daeth syniadau’r stori: straeon eraill, ffilmiau, llyfrau … doedd ddim un ohonyn nhw yn ‘wreiddiol’.  Rydw i’n hoffi diffiniad Arthur Koestler o greadigrwydd: dod â fframweithiau meddwl ynghŷd nad oeddent yn perthyn yn gynt – ond sydd yn bodoli yn barod – yn hytrach na chynhyrchu rhywbeth o nunlle.

Pan wnes i ‘ddarganfod’ chwedleua traddodiadol ar lafar, ar ddiwedd y 1980au, dyma fi’n rhyfeddu: Pam creu straeon, pan fo’r straeon anhygoel hynny yn bodoli yn barod, wedi’u siapio a’u gloywi gan gannoedd o chwedleuwyr dros gannoedd o flynyddoedd?

Ers hynny, dydw i ddim wedi edrych yn ôl, a phan wnes i ddychwelyd i Gymru yn 2000, deallais fod adrodd chwedlau o Gymru yn fy helpu i adnabod y dirwedd mewn ffordd ystyrlon iawn.  Rydw i wedi gweithio (am flynyddoedd!) i allu adrodd yn y Gymraeg, ac, er nad oes  gen i’r un eirfa gyfoethog a sy gen i yn Saesneg, dwi’n darganfod mwy am y chwedlau, y wlad a’r bobl, trwy wrando ar ac adrodd chwedlau yn Gymraeg.

Rydw i’n angerddol am werth chwedlau i gefnogi ddysgwyr yr iaith.  Rydw i hefyd yn angerddol am gefnogi chwedleuwyr Cymru, a dyma pam rydw i’n falch i fod yn ran o Chwedl.   Enwyd Gwobr Esyllt Prize er anrhydedd fy nghyfailles Esyllt Harker, ac rwy’n credu y byddai hi’n falch o’r hyn sy’n cael ei wneud yn ei henw hi.

Cath Little

“Mesmerising mythic stories from a wonderful Welsh storyteller”

Cardiff Storyteller and Singer Cath Little has “rough magic” in her voice, and in her words “the gift of the story comes through.” She has a strong belief in the power of stories to connect us to one another, to the land, and to the people who once lived here. She tells traditional stories from her Irish English heritage and her Welsh homeland. Cath is passionate about re-imagining and sharing the ancient British wonder tales of The Mabinogion.

Cath helps run the Cardiff Storytelling Circle and curates their seasonal concerts, Tales for the Turning Year. She tells and listens to stories at Oasis, a Cardiff Charity which offers a warm Welsh welcome to refugees and asylum seekers. Cath keeps busy sharing stories in schools, libraries, museums, castles, cafes and fields. She has performed at festivals across Britain and Ireland and is the author of Glamorgan Folk Tales for Children.

www.cathlittle.co.uk

Anne Lister

I have met them, on many a long journey, throughout a long apprenticeship to learn my skill … I have met them, and recognised my family. Poetry, mythology, they’re living still.

“Dragons”, on “Spreading Rings”

My song “Dragons”, inspired by the Earthsea books of Ursula K Le Guin. The dragon, as keeper of the lore and singer of strange, mysterious songs.  The pile of treasure, which I always saw as heaps of books. Stories, whether they come as books, or songs, or images, or via oral transmission, are an essential part of being human, as well as dragon. Tolkien, in one of his essays, says that there have been many civilisations which did not invent the wheel, but none which did not have stories.  This is why Chwedl is a network dear to my heart.

I have been telling stories all my life, sometimes in the privacy of my room and sometimes to audiences. I’ve written some of them in the form of songs, which is the homeopathic version, far more condensed and (I hope) powerful. Some I’m working with now are finding their way into a longer novel. I’ve worked with children of all ages, and with adults in refuges, in prisons and in happier circumstances, prompting them to tell stories as well. In recent years I’ve concentrated on a 13th century Occitan tale for my PhD research, telling that to medievalists and Arthurians as well as all kinds of other audiences.  My family moved to Cardiff when I was 10 – such a gift to someone obsessed by music and stories – and although I went to university (Warwick), and then to London, and then to France, and then back to London again, I came back home to Wales in 2002.  And here I intend to stay, high in the hills in Blaenavon.

www.annelister.com

Helen Wales

Cardiff has been my home for twelve years (and a few more odd ones besides), and I grew up near Wrexham in North Wales, having moved west from South Yorkshire as a child. I’ve also lived in Caernarfon and Cambridge, and in Moscow, Italy and Lesotho.

I have always been drawn to stories, for so many different reasons. They are spaces that brim with both surprise and familiarity, and places from which we can see the world anew – and which remind us of things we may have forgotten. They are full of threads that link us to each other, to the land and to shadowy half-thoughts that we need to take time to listen to and understand.

In my own practice, I’m interested in really listening to and working with a story to hear and share what it has to say about the world as it is, here and now.

I got involved with Chwedl because the support, inspiration and encouragement of other women has been key for me in my storytelling journey. I wanted to help build a network of women from across Wales who would support each other in discovering and developing their own creativity. I’m always inspired at Chwedl events and gatherings by the richness and variety of the work that women are doing in the world of story in Wales, and I’m particularly excited when I see women who are finding their own unique voices as storytellers.

Alongside storytelling, I’m a campaigner, a charity leader, a Welsh European and an auntie.