ONCE upon a time, there was a wonderful storyteller called Michele O’Brien, and she had a magical idea to help parents and children in this difficult time.
Michele is inviting young children to “sleep tight with Sunday night bedtime stories” from the Facebook pages of Poole’s Lighthouse arts centre.
Starting this week, Sunday 12th, with The Big Noses, from Monty Python star Terry Jones’s Fairy Tales and Fantastic Stories, Michele hopes the stories will enchant children and grown-ups alike. She has converted a little extension at home into a makeshift studio to record these stories.
“I’m starting with Terry Jones because that was the book my hand reached for on the shelf and his stories are so magical. My great niece and nephew are six and nine and both of them were wrapped up in it. Like Monty Python I think it appeals to people of all ages who love to play, I’m into playfulness, particularly at this time.”
This summer she had been planning to tour her new family show, The Ark and Dove. Based on the story of two ships that left Cowes on 22nd November 1633 bound for the New World, it draws parallels between stories of migration from 17th century England and in today’s world.
“I’ve had to pack that show and look forward to the time when I can bring it out, but I feel so privileged to have been able to make it at all. There are a lot of artists and performers who haven’t been so fortunate and are facing incredibly uncertain times as we can’t plan, and we don’t know what will happen with funding.”
Michele will perform a Native American tale from The Ark and Dove for the bedtime story on Sunday 19th. “It’s a beautiful story about a star that falls in love with a human – in the indigenous culture they believed the stars hold the spirits of the departed.”
Michele is also considering a video project in which she’ll revisit some of the historical characters she has played, from Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria to a First World War volunteer nurse and Granny Cousins who hosts Old Poole ghost walks. She says: “I like the idea that people might ask questions online and I could respond to them in Facebook videos.”
She is also in the Babigloo: Music for Babies project on Facebook, leading therapeutic music-led sessions for parents and babies up to 12 months old. All sessions are non-verbal, using vocal and musical rhythms combined with classical music and theatre. Find it at https://www.facebook.com/babigloomusic.
The Bedtime Stories stories will go live on Lighthouse Facebook page at 7pm on Sundays as part of #SundayFunday – https://en-gb.facebook.com/lighthousepoole/
Pictured: Michele O’Brien prepares to read some bedtime stories. Photograph by Colin Phillimore