Songs and Stories, Natural History & Imagination

My name is Barry Patterson and I am a performer specialising in storytelling with songs and music. I perform in character, so that my shows aren't just story telling but they are certainly more that just live role play. My background is in education, museums and site interpretation but I appear at all manner of venues - indoors and out, for a wide range of audiences.

I have some stock performances such as the Wild Man of the Woods which has been going since 1991 but I also have a lot of other material and I have done a variety of work over the past few years, much of it science or natural history related.

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portrait by georgi mabee
Special offers for primary schools, photo thanks to Dunchurch Primary School, Warks

What to Expect

A Birch Tree performance always has a strong start to get people interested - often a dramatic entry with music or song and it can last for anything between 30 minutes to over an hour, although the latter is unusual. I am not the kind of storyteller reciting something by rote (although that is a worthy tradition) and always seek to engage with and involve my audience as much as possible. There may be a very clear set of educational objectives or the theme may be more celebratory - in either case you can be sure that I won't be sitting still for very long! My interaction with the audience is often a spring board into new dimensions of the subject. Whether the tale is set in Dark Age Scotland or just down your street, whether I am explaining how to identify trees in Winter or why there are no such things as giant insects, you can be sure that there will be a lively mix of facts, humour and folklore.

I am a member of Equity and I follow their guidelines for children's performers.

"The magic and mystery of your show
will remain vivid in the children's memories for a long time. The children learnt history, botany, science and folklore without realising it - a marvellous achievement. The combination of music, costume and drama was enchanting. For forty-five minutes we were taken back to a time when the forests were the homes and providers of food for everybody. Sheer bliss as the modern world receded away."

Martha Lambert, Young People's Services Librarian, London Borough of Waltham Forest.

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