Dave Tonge – The Yarnsmith of Norwich
Art forms: Storyteller, historian and author
Summary: I tell stories at museums, heritage sites, schools, festivals and fairs over much of the UK. My focus is on stories from Saxon and Viking times through Medieval and Tudor to the present day.
Locations: Throughout East Anglia, but also the rest of England.
Experience: I have told at many national museums, including the British Museum and Ashmolean. Also for English Heritage for the last 15 years, the Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust and the Historic Royal Palaces. I have also headlined at a number of storytelling festivals including Settle in Yorkshire, Sandwich Winter Tales in Kent and Festival at the Edge in Shropshire.
I have also published two books based on my performances: Tudor Tales (2015) based on an adult storytelling set called ‘The Shaming of Agnes Leaman.’ The second, Norfolk Folk Tales for Children, based on a new set celebrating my local heritage and folklore.
I also run basic storytelling workshops at festivals and one called ‘Telling Heritage,’ focusing on storytelling in museums, that I lead at the Ashmolean every winter.
Qualifications: My interest in storytelling stemmed from using stories as historical sources while studying for my BA and MA at the University of East Anglia. I have also trained as a freelance museum educator at museums in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, including the Fitzwilliam.
Projects: In 2005 Creative Arts East funded me to lead basic skills storytelling training with a number of disadvantage pupils at a middle school in Great Yarmouth, which culminated with them putting on a storytelling performance at the Time and Tide museum in the town.
While in 2015 I was commissioned by Waveney and Blyth Arts to create and perform a storytelling set, called ‘Legends of a Long Forgotten Land,’ as part of a bigger project, called Finding Doggerland, which explored artists responses to the now lost land bridge that once joined Britain to Europe. My sessions toured libraries throughout Suffolk.
Also in that year, I created a storytelling performance for the Historic Royal Palaces about a Tudor royal progress to be performed at an outreach event at Tatton Park near Manchester. And in 2016 they commissioned me to create and perform a set for and Elizabethan Christmas event held at Hampton Court Palace.
Groups of people worked with: As well as telling to adults, families and young children, I have told stories to groups with learning disabilities, young people with autism and also in care homes to elderly people suffering from various forms of dementia, telling classic tales as part of a reminiscence program.
Ivy Cottage, Greenways,