Lucy Lill: Thank you so much for agreeing to this. You run a storytelling club up in Stafford – can you tell me a little bit about it?

Ana Lines: Hi Lucy! I run a storytelling club in Stafford in partnership with Cath Edwards and Ana Sidon. The club was one of my dreams that turned into reality and we will celebrate our 3rd anniversary next month.

Lucy Lill: Congratulations!

Ana Lines: The club’s mission is to bring professional storytelling for grownups to Stafford: a reasonably priced evening in relaxed and welcoming surroundings where audiences can enjoy low-tech, highly enjoyable entertainment.

LL: Low-tech is certainly the order of the day at Story Jam!

AL: Every evening is a little different, and each one brings the best of storytelling. Performing in the first half of most evenings there will be a professional guest storyteller, each one with their own unique style, while the second half is open to tellers from the floor.

LL: Have you found there is a large appetite for storytelling in Stafford? Do you have a loyal audience?

AL: Well, Stafford has been a wonderful surprise. Storytelling was something new here. It is a joy to see people coming to the club for the first time a little bit suspicious about what they are expecting and having a great time and returning the next month. I believe now more than 70% of our audience had their first storytelling experience in the Stafford club and now many of them are asking for information about workshops, festivals, clubs etc.

LL: That’s fantastic -and it’s a great feeling, isn’t it, when someone looks suspicious and by the end they totally ‘get it’? We find the same thing at Story Jam and it’s special to have a loyal audience, who bring their own friends and turn them on to storytelling too.

AL: It is priceless, isn’t? I love to look at the audience’s faces and observe their reactions alongside the performance, and when they leave with a big smile it’s the best feeling.
When I invite people for the first time I always try to encourage them to see at least three different performances and tellers. As you know, each storyteller’s performance is unique.

LL: And you have some great people at your club – I think I saw pictures of Sef Townsend online. Sef was responsible for a riotous night with Nell Phoenix at Story Jam in December.

AL: Yes , I met Sef at Nell’s club and after I had the opportunity to be with him at FatE [Festival at the Edge]. And you are right, I have some great tellers at the club, from all over the UK and abroad – there are so many wonderful tellers. I had the privilege of seeing Alys’ show at the Torriano, and listening to you too. I wish there were more months in the year or more clubs …there are so many talented people that I would like to invite. I think clubs like ours are fundamental in promoting this fabulous art form.

LL: Now, am I right in thinking you are the only Brazilian storyteller in the UK?

AL: Yes I’m the only performing Brazilian storyteller living and working in the UK . When I moved to England I was already 45 years old and didn’t speak English. It was a big and brilliant challenge to start all over again ….like a baby, learning how to speak , It has been very emotional to be able to bring a little bit of my culture here.. I’m very grateful.

LL: What a brave thing to do! I can’t imagine how hard that must have been. As a storyteller your language is your currency – to have to develop a career in a whole new language…I’m pretty awed by that. Can you tell me a little bit about the storytelling culture in Brazil?

AL: I’m a journalist and storyteller, so language has been my tool, my whole life . To be honest, I was very scared at the beginning. But now I view all the change as a privilege and a gift. It is nice to start all over again, and the process gave me the opportunity to grow as a person and professionally. I’ve always been passionate about language and I care a lot about it. So in Portuguese I’m a perfectionist, but as I can’t do the same in English I have to rely much more on my body and facial expressions and emotion … There are many ways to tell a story. Brazil is a very rich cultural country. The stories that I’ll bring to Story Jam have been collected from remote tribes in the Amazon. The indigenous myths are fascinating. Also we have a fantastic number of tales brought from Africa and Portugal that have been mingled into Brazilian culture. Every region has a different reality and creative ways to manifest it. The large number of immigrants also contributes to our fabulous number of stories.

LL: I guess it also makes you drill down into the essence of what the story is when you have fewer words to express it. And you’re right, there are no ‘perfect’ ways to tell a story. We can’t wait to see you on the 3rd March. Have a great weekend.

AL: Thank you Lucy. I’m looking forward to barbecuing some husbands at Story Jam. Hope your audience is brave!

Ana brings her tales of snakes, vows of silence and unusual cuisine to Story Jam on Thursday 3rd March. Details – for the brave hearted, and those who want to go home with a big smile on their faces.