A Jekyll and Hyde storyteller

Something is happening to me.  It’s not happened overnight but over a period of years.  I’m having a professional identity crisis; I am a Jekyll and Hyde storyteller.

Let me introduce my aliases to you.  Jekyll is subdued.  He sits on a chair and tells stories using simple props, hats and the odd sound effect.  Jekyll is the one who presents trios of stories to reception classes and spooky stories at public events.  Jekyll looks and behaves like a stereotypical storyteller (if such a thing even exists).  Hyde on the other hand is manic.  He loves a crowd and is instinctively theatrical.  Hyde likes knockabout fun with volunteers and chucks buckets of water for any given reason.  Don’t get me wrong my Jekyll and Hyde’s are both great but the conundrum increasingly is that if people turn up to see one and get the other will they be disappointed by the presentation they get?

I feel that I’m at my best when I get material which allows me to use all of my abilities.  For me it’s about striking a balance between knockabout routines and visual humour and using words to paint pictures for an audience so that they can close their eyes and just imagine it.  I’m the Toyota Yaris of storytelling; neither wholly one thing nor the other.  I sit on a stylistic fence and that can be a real drag.  For years I have struggled to describe my own work when pushed by friends and family.  These days I often need people to sell my work in order to generate audiences and defying categorisation is tricky.

In the end though, being a bit different is mostly brilliant.  You see children enjoy my different.  My different exposes them to stories and encourages listening and positive participation.  My different is fun and creates lasting memories (I meet children who remind me who they were in a story or that I squirted them with water two years ago).  Storytellers might call me an actor, actors might call me a children’s entertainer and teachers might call me Mr Kirk but I hope the children I meet remember that in the end I’m just John.

To everybody else out there who finds that they are a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde, have a happy Halloween!