Story Cafe Special with Lesley O’Brien: Storytelling, Travel, Therapy and Music

Join us on Thursday 30th November from 12:30-2pm as we celebrate Book Week Scotland by welcoming incredible storyteller, musician and East End native Lesley O’Brien for an afternoon of traditionally inspired music, nibbles and spellbinding stories from her extensive experience of both myth and travel.

Lesley’s long held love and lifelong passion for storytelling lays its foundations in her belief that the art of reciting myth, legend and theory lies in the reality that stories do not exist solely for the purpose of entertainment, but also for deeper psychological and societal reasons. Lesley believes that through stories we can learn to better love and understand ourselves and others, and that nothing touches your heart like a story you can relate to. She has lengthy experience working within a women’s and children’s domestic violence refuge as a Family Resource Worker with Glasgow Women’s Aid. There, through the thoughtful use of a sensory room to tell stories with intrinsic therapeutic values, woven with themes of defeating and overcoming abuse and challenging gender roles, Lesley has encouraged many women and children seeking safety to speak up, tell their own stories and, crucially, regain their own voice. It is beautiful, important work that pointedly reminds us that the purpose of a storyteller shouldn’t be to tell you how to think or behave, but to give you questions to think about, and inspire the courage to be who it is you want to be.

Indeed, the gift of storytelling such as the like of Lesley’s is one of life’s most mighty and desirable accomplishments. A well told story can make a reader or listener laugh, cry, rage, worry and inspire. A well told story can change a person’s outlook and emotional state. It can even change their life. While reading about Lesley’s life and work while researching this post, I’ve come across the accounts of a few people who’ve experienced her art in both a profoundly therapeutic and simply artistic way and I’m reminded of Erin Morgenstern’s words in the beautiful The Night Circus: “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone’s soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”

Clearly, it is Lesley’s, and it is also what she loves most about storytelling. In an interview with The Scottish Storytelling Centre, she said: It [telling stories] feeds my soul. It inspires me to write music, songs, and poetry and connects me with so many wonderful people, who often share their stories and skills. It’s a great way to encourage others to tell their stories to help them in recovery from experiences that have caused suffering such as domestic abuse, mental health problems, and drug and alcohol addiction.”

Thiscuriosity to betterunderstanding how important storytelling in a community can be mixed with a natural taste for adventure and exploration and inspired Lesley to learn more about the role of stories, tradition and music in other cultures and peoples. She has travelled extensively and curiously, ever searching for that common thread of understanding in art and love that connects us all. Indeed, this inherent inquisitiveness has led her to stays in such wonderful places as Israel, New Zealand and Brazil, places who’s own traditions and stories have become a part of her extensive collection of tales she loves to tell and songs she loves to sing to soothe souls and energise minds. Indeed, perhaps the most exciting thing about Lesley and her art is that her storytelling is often multi-faceted and interactive. Along with the use of games, poetry and props, Lesley loves to intertwine her tales with songs which sounds are steeped in the traditions of the folk, blues and country genres, and are brimming with peeks into her travels, history and influences.

It is, I’m led to believe, a truly special experience, and one you definitely shouldn’t miss!

This event is open to all over the age of 16. We would prefer for tickets to be booked in advance whenever possible, either via our website or by popping into the library. This event costs £2 full price. Remember, we offer subsidised free places for students, people on a low income, unemployed or those in receipt of benefit and Friends of GWL!


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