Charlotte

by Robin

I spent my childhood on a farm in the UK with cows, sheep, chickens, ducks, cats dogs and NO Television!

One of six children; make believe and playmaking were essential life skills resulting in homemade theatre in the loft above the cow shed and shadow play around the sitting room fire.

In a beautiful rural setting, I imagined myself the central figure of fantastical stories which went on for months at at time. I read hundreds of books and regularly pretended to be a witch.

Emigrating to Australia in 1982, I went to UTS and turned into a Librarian where I read more books and made up more plays with kids and adults. In the mid 1990’s I left Manly Library to go to art school and start an exciting new business as a Travelling Storyteller.

From 2005 to 2018 (whilst getting on with the most important job of being mum to my son Nick), I was in-house Storyteller at Preshil – The Margaret Lyttle Memorial School in Kew, Victoria. At Preshil, I collaborated on a number of plays for children, including the co-production of ‘Spooky – The Musical” with Catharine Boothroyd. I worked with classroom teachers – developing theatrical stories to support visual learning, and worked one-on-one with children helping them to create and perform their own story and playmaking scripts. During this time, I produced several storytelling shows which I performed at schools around Melbourne.

Coloured Pencil self portrait of Charlotte Jowett by Charlotte Jowett
Charlotte Dressed as Witch from Manly Daily article published 30/10/1996

I completed a Master of Visual Arts at Monash University in 2012, with some Performance Art involving an armchair a card table, video projection, a lot of sewn-together bed sheets and some fancy sound tech – enabled by composer Timothy Lawrence. Whilst at Monash, I enjoyed a residency at Monash University’s Prato Centre in Tuscany Italy where I studied the Comedia dell’arte.

My experience as a Professional Storyteller spans almost thirty years and hundreds of live performances in schools, libraries, at events and private gatherings. In this time, I have developed my own visual and theatrical way of telling and performing traditional and new stories. I learned that a rich sensory experience with things to see, hear, smell, touch and interact with provides the most engaging storytelling environment. I love dressing up and pretending to be someone else, drawing and making my own puppets, theatres and props, singing really loud, being dramatic and over the top, sharing the storytelling with others and putting on interesting accents..and..I love an audience!

My interest in puppets and their theatres has led to a life long curiosity about how these figures and their homes have been used, for thousands of years, to flesh out the story of human existence. I have a large collection of puppets and homemade theatres ranging from classic marionettes to shadow, stick and glove puppets; Rudolph Steiner inspired dolls and knitted and felted soft figures. I developed my own ‘Orange Box Theatre’, inspired by the Japanese Kamishibai, paper theatres, using hand made cut and illustrated figures who tell their stories from out of a cardboard box.

Rudolf Steiner inspired felt dolls

Over the years, I have run many storytelling workshops and electives in schools and libraries, as well as privately. I love to encourage, in others, the potentially endless range of creative skills and practices which can be used in the weaving of fabulous stories for the vibrant entertainment of all.

I am also a practicing Visual Artist. And my artist skills are invaluable in creating a signature ‘look’ for my work. I have been involved in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and I have work in both public and private collections. I have completed several commissioned works, including some beautiful hand bound and printed artist’s books. I am a committed creator of ZINES – little self printed and published books; a member of Sticky Institute and a fan of Squishface Studio.

I am thrilled to be collaborating with the wonderfully talented and musical “Emily” on this new and exciting performance and online Musical Storytelling adventure. Working with a real musician is incredibly exciting for me. Music adds another layer to storytelling in the same way that colour adds life to black and white drawing. The exciting possibilities for online live streaming have created new inspiration for our performance, and we intend to join with other artists and performers globally to offer exciting material online for you to enjoy in the privacy of wherever you happen to be.

Charlotte Jowett.