Storyteller | Consultant | Mentor Plenary Speaker | IATEFL Patron
Jan Blake is a storyteller, consultant, mentor & plenary speaker who has been performing world-wide since 1986. Born in Manchester, UK to Jamaican parents, Jan specialises in folktales and myths from the Caribbean, West Africa, North Africa, and the Arab regions.Always innovating within the form she has a well-earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling - appearing at most major international storytelling festivals - leads storytelling workshops for schools and universities and has been a contributor to BBC Radio programmes.Career highlights include storyteller in-residence at Hay Festival, the Viljandi International Folk Music Festival in Estonia and TEDx Warsaw & Tedx Manchester.She has developed relationships with several major organisations, including the National Theatre - where she spent a decade as the Storytelling Consultant - BBC Philharmonic Orchestra; London Philharmonic Orchestra; Royal Geographical Society; Natural History Museum; Barnardo’s UNHCR; IATEFL and The British Council.In 2011, she was the recipient of the biannual Thüringer Märchen Preis, awarded to scholars or performers who have devoted their lives to the service of storytelling, the first non-German to be awarded the prize.As part of the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012, she 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, The Old Woman, The Buffalo, and The Lion of Manding created and performed with musicians Kouame and Raymond Sereba toured to acclaim winning a British Awards for Storytelling Excellence (BASE).In 2021 she launched her own online storytelling school, the Akua Storytelling Project. The school is devoted to developing a new generation of international storytellers, as well as helping teachers to become great storytellers in the classroom.
A Body Of Words Foundation to Storytelling
A 20 week Online course: Connect With The Folklore Of Your Ancestors. Tell stories with Authenticity & Love.
A Body of Words Storytelling Mentorship
A 9-month mentorship helping storytellers to combine the right stories to create beautiful storytelling experiences for all.
A Body of Words Mentorship programme is
the core of my vision to develop a community of storytellers who will answer the
call to stand in their traditions of storytelling, to carry that tradition
forward with integrity, re-enlivening the culture, based on love honour &
respect.For me, storytelling is as much a practice as it
is an art form. At the end of your mentorship journey, you will have expanded
your range of stories & your repertoire, deepened your practice &
created four brand new storytelling programmes for performance, each containing
4 stories and an interval.It is expected that you will
select one of these programmes to market, sell, perform and record. You will
then feed back your experience to your fellow mentees.
This Mentorship is not for you if:
• You are not a professional Storyteller
• You have less than 5 years’ experience of creating, preparing and performing storytelling shows.
• You believe you have nothing more to learn about the craft
• You have no affinity with the word of film & cinema.
• You believe that you should be able to tell stories from anyone’s culture regardless of sovereignty or historical cultural appropriation.
• You believe that storytellers are naturally wise, and you want to share your wisdom with the world through stories.
• If you believe that what you have to say about the world is more important than what the story has to say.If you like what you've read so far and would like to have a chat, contact Jan
Africa Dreaming: African Myth in the heart of Snowdonia.
A storytelling retreat centred around the story of Woyengi & The Medicine Woman, a myth from the Ijo people of the Niger Delta, brought to life in the land of the Ancient Britons.
Untold: An Immersive Weekend Storytelling Retreat for Women, in Search of their Story.
This is a weekend of re-membering
ourselves with a story. This is a weekend of pausing and reflecting upon where
we are in our life's journey. This is a weekend of telling, listening and
unearthing the stories of our roots and ancestry.
This is a weekend of listening deeply and unearthing the gifts we have come here with, to give back to the World.
Bedtime Stories is The Akua Storytelling Project’s current initiative for KS2. This is a 10-week project with children working alongside a storyteller and a visual artist to learn and re-tell traditional stories, both orally & visually.
JOIN THE COMMUNITY
I’d like to invite you to consider
subscribing to The Akua Storytelling Project Community. What is that?
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 community 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 community might be for you.
The Friday Dilemma
Dilemma tales are told in West Africa
& some parts of India, to promote discussion & debate.
Traditionally, there are no right or wrong solutions to the problem posed in
the story, their value being in the conversation generated by the events in
the story. From February onwards I will be holding space in The Akua
Storytelling Project online community where we will watch and discuss the
To join our Friday Dilemma dialogues & debates
become a Akua Storytelling Project community member for just $26.99 per
month (approximately £21 per month) or join on Eventbrite
When: 2 February 2024 - 5 April 2024
(excluding 9th February)
Where: Online Weekly Zoom calls
Spin @ The Southbank
Spin: Raps, Poems and Stories on the 15th February at the Southbank Centre as part of the Imagine Children’s Festival. Join the word warriors of Apples and Snakes for a fun-filled day of raps, poems and stories.
When: 15th Feb
Where: The Southbank Centre
Time: 10:30 & 13:30
Beneath the Eyes of
Baron Samedi - master of the dead, giver of life, guardian of the past. In top hat and tails, his nose plugged with cotton wool - he drinks, he smokes, he swears, he tells filthy jokes. When someone dies, he decides whether or not to dig their grave, greet their soul and lead them to the underworld. The domain he watches over is shot through with rum and rags, good food and poverty, gods and transforming beasts.... in other words - glorious voudon”Join me at The Crick Crack Club series ‘Fairytales for Grown-Ups’. I’ll be telling ‘Beneath the Eyes of Baron Samedi’ at The Story Museum, Oxford and Live Stream for those who would like to join online. 28 March 2024, 7.30pm
When: 28 March 2024,
Where: The Story Museum
I am delighted to share that I have
been announced as the new IATEFL Patron.
I look forward to attending my
first conference in my new role, where I'll be meeting English Language
Teachers & delegates from around the world.When:16-18th April
Where: The Brighton Centre
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Above photos by Darius Jean