Sef Townsend - storyteller

 Thanks for visiting my website!
I have been telling, sharing and listening to stories,
singing songs and running participatory arts projects since, at least, the last century.
These are some of the areas I work in:
Refugee Communities
Interfaith & Cross-Cultural Projects
Peace and Reconciliation Initiatives
Language Learning                             

Much  of my work is spent with refugees, people in exile and their children and families.Traditional stories are often a safe way of speaking the unspeakable, but the teller 
( the refugee) has the wonderful feeling of being heard. There is an emphasis on participants telling, retelling, remembering. voicing, singing the stories, most of which are traditional stories, most often from the refugees' own background. The telling of one's own personal story is a larger and more fraught issue: Sometimes when a refugee mother in faltering English, or in her own language and English, with help from friends, is telling a traditional story about loss, loneliness, justice etc. it comes across so powerfully, that everyone knows that it is HER story. She doesn't need to tell us that this did or did not happen to her. We know that she is feeling the story through her own experience.

Words used with teachers :

Literacy   -  Numeracy  -  Oracy     Development of Listening Skills     
Speaking Skills - Social Skills    
Coordination Skills  - 
National Curriculum Minimum requirements

Words used with children : 

Sing   -   Tell  -   Move  
Listen  -  Whisper   -  Shout     
Dance  -   Enjoy  -   Share 

Interfaith & Cross-Cultural Projects
I have worked in Mosques, Synagogues, Meeting Houses, Churches and many Interfaith and Cross-Cultural Projects where one of my favourite questions is to ask people which faith community they think the story comes from. So often people think that the Jewish story they have heard and enjoyed, is Islamic, or the Muslim story has a Christian message. They are often amazed when I tell them that the tradition it comes from is not what they thought. I often hear,  "that's just like one of ours".. . And, in a way, that's half of what I'm trying to get across i.e. other people are just like us!
                                                                                                     Working with  Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Druze & Atheists,Galilee, The Holy Land
Peace& Reconciliation
I am moving more into this area, after initial work in London, Northern Ireland and Armenia-Azerbaijan, I worked in Israel and Palestine on the 2009 Healing Words Project led by Roi Gal-Or from The School of Storytelling, Emerson College, England. Through storytelling and story sharing we attempted to 'address the conflicts between race and religion in the middle east through creativity and through the striving to find that which is truly equal and human in each of us.' (For details click following link and scroll down to 'Healing Words')
Follow up tours in Nov 2009, (also May 2010; Feb & June 2011) to reconnect with some of the participants of that year's earlier project took me to Nablus and the troubled city of El Khalil-Hebron in the West Bank, and to working with Palestinians and Bedouin living in Israel, and with Palestinians trying to farm their own land 'illegally' in the southern hills around Yatta/Sousia. The first hand experiences of some of the daily indignities and injustices in this zone of conflict are feeding into the next stage of my work, which includes becoming involved with The Sustainable Peace Network based at Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, Co. Wicklow, Ireland Work with with the SPN has included projects in Northern Ireland, Scotland, The Republic of Ireland, and South Africa.
See images of work:   
Peacework South Africa:   
Peacework Palestine/Israel :
Libraries will often use my stories in National Book Week, Story Walks and  Local History Trails, working with Heritage Collections, or with the national collection at The British Library.
Language Learning
Working with child learners of English was my entry into the world of storytelling. I found that whenever I told a story (often with vocabulary and language structure 'unknown' to them) they were immediately engrossed, and language acquisition was much more rapid with those children who had stories than with those who didn't.
Now I work mainly with adult Language Learners who show the same delight in the stories and contribute key words in their own languages to the telling of the stories.