“In stories throughout the ages there is one motif that continually recurs – the journey into the woods to find the dark but life-giving secret within,” John Yorke
For this month’s Feed I ventured into the woods – literally and metaphorically – courtesy of John Yorke and Rogue Theatre company. Both got my storytelling cogs ticking over and had me asking questions about the essence of a story.
In his book, Into the Woods: A Five Act Journey Into Story (2013), John Yorke seeks to find what lurks at the heart of the forest, taking you on a journey into the innermost workings of storytelling, venturing into the realms of history, philosophy, science and psychology along the way.
As former Head of Channel Four Drama, Controller of BBC Drama Production and writer and producer on numerous successful popular TV dramas, including Shameless and Skins, he’s a very good companion to have. Recommended reading for anyone with a curiosity about how we tell stories and unfolding the structure of storytelling.
With my head full of ideas about how we put stories together, it was time to venture into the woods for real to see storytelling in action.
Wild Wood was Rogue Theatre’s latest immersive theatre experience. In Tehidy Woods, out in the back of beyond in Cornwall, theatre-goers tramped along a candle-lit path through the trees.
A series of unexpected encounters lurked along the way, clues as to what lay in store: a grove of mirrors, a pirate ship, a tree of ticking clocks and – was that a wolf boy glimpsed in the undergrowth?
Arriving at a clearing in the centre of the woods, a series of stories unfolded on stage; wonderful, beautiful and strange, the call of the wild echoed through them all. There was the actor who had become his characters and longed to see his own face in the mirror, the daughter of Blackbeard out for revenge, Ed the banker desperate to break free from the ticking of the 9-5 clock. Not to mention Rogue’s very own Red Riding Hood – a supermarket checkout girl who heard the call of the wild and ventured into the woods, armed only with her Duke of Edinburgh knowhow and a map. Here she met her Wolf, who it turned out she took quite a fancy to: ‘Chase me, chase me!’ she screamed in delight.
And they both lived happily ever after.