A contemporary yurt on the river bank, where tales are told, a nomadic haven of the weird and the wonderful. Tales of magic and myths, of princesses and princes, of monsters and men. In the Crick Crack Club’s own words this is the ‘cinema of the imagination’ and features some of the UK’s best storytellers.
However, there is a twist to these tales. Purely for adults, they are not to be confused with the mainstream interpretation. The Crick Crack Club revamp old fairy tales, myths and fables and gives them a new lease of life, keeping the traditional medium alive in the modern age.
Ben Haggarty was our storyteller for the evening, and he was so captivating we went back for more the following week. Haggarty leads the Crick Crack Club in modernising the art of storytelling. The club has been running for over 25 years and has seen storyteller numbers swell from a tiny handful to hundreds across the UK.
The Bridge of Bones was our tale of choice. In short it was about a young boy called Jack who is apprenticed to a blacksmith with a bad reputation. In the mode of traditional fairy tales he has to complete tasks to win the princess’ hand in marriage.
If you want to take the whole family along to a show including the kids, the Crick Crack Club also holds sessions with tales for children. The show has seen demand for shows increase over the past 25 years and perhaps with good reason too. If you’re new to Crick Crack’s world of storytelling or you’re a veteran there may be some surprising benefits to going along and listening to one of their stories.
Listening to a story has been found to increase brain activity, not only does the parts of our brain that process language light up (the Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area) but also other areas of the brain that are used when processing events, such as the sensory and motor cortex. The brains of the speaker and listener can synchronise too, meaning that the listener can share experiences the listener has had (well activate that part of the brain at least).So telling stories has a massive impact on learning for both children and adults. Our brains are wired for cause and effect, which is the way stories are broken down. Our brains think in narratives all day long, from planning out your daily activities to playing out conversations we will have later on. We have been telling stories for thousands of years, even before writing was invented.
Today, most of our conversations are spent telling stories about other people. In fact, evolutionary psychologist Robin Durbar, found that, “Social topics—especially gossip—account for 65 percent of all human conversations in public places.” Whenever we hear a story we also want to relate it to our own personal experiences, so when our brain is searching for a connection we activate a part of the brain called the insula, which helps us to relate to similar experiences.
As a species we find stories so alluring because they give us a sense of control over the world. Cody C. Delistraty, a writer at The Atlantic, found stories allow us to find patterns and meaning in chaos and randomness, we find meaning where there is none because it offers importance to our lives.
Stories can also be a vehicle for passing on key information for survival. Narrative works from both data and emotions and as listeners we are more likely to remember more information in a narrative rather than if it were presented in list form. Jennifer Aaker, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, says that when information is presented in a narrative people remember “up to 22 times more than facts alone.”
So the next time you listen to a story there may be more benefits to it than you think, like learning how to defeat a King Hydra or how to talk to a Basilisk. Well, you never know what could come in handy one day.
If you want to see the The Crick Crack Club’s performances they perform year round-up and down the country. They can be found at The Soho Theatre, Rich Mix and The Forge if you find yourself craving more wacky and weird fairy tales. They also run training courses if you get the itching to learn the craft.