Meet the Storytellers (7): Ana Maria Lines - Brazilian Storyteller
A Conversation with Ana Maria Lines
Brazilian-born professional storyteller, Ana Maria Lines, now lives in Britain. She works in schools with students and with their teachers, runs storytelling workshops and performs at storytelling festivals and related events.
Her repertoire is wide: from folk tales and myths from Brazil, to stories from around the world, using love and relationships as central theme.
Why did Ana become a storyteller?
"Well, when you ask me what made me take this unusual career route, to be honest, I think it was not a conscious decision. I just let the stories lead me. And here I am."
"Storytelling was not my first career choice. But very early in my life I realised the importance and power of a good story. Stories were my company in good and rough moments."
"My first career was journalism and again I realised how the knowledge of traditional stories’ structure helps to tell real life stories."
"As a journalist and events organizer, I was invited to run training sessions in companies in Brazil about speech, creativity, motivation, dealing with adversity. And there they were again: the fairy tales, fables , myths to give me a hand in those 'adult and serious business environments.'
Then as a mother, storytelling strengthened my relationship with my kids . They were my real first audience!"
"My decision to perform came later. I always enjoyed acting and dance , but ironically I’m very shy. But when I realised that with storytelling I was just an instrument to pass on cultures and ancient traditions, the fear was replaced by joy."
"Once I returned to a place that I had told stories before and someone approached me and said, 'I loved the story about the little mouse that you told. But sorry, I don’t remember your name.” That moment I knew I’d done my job properly."
"The decision to move to England was another huge challenge for my “storytelling history”. I didn’t speak the language and I was already in my late 40s. For the first year I freaked out and I thought I would never be able to face an audience here. But again the power of stories was stronger and through them I improved my language skills. The next step was to be able to keep the emotion, the connection with the story, and the audience, but in another language."
The value of storytelling goes beyond performance too for Ana. In her workshops she helps people with their self-development. " Storytelling is a wonderful tool to improve memory, confidence and creativity."
Was Ana Maria glad she had become a storyteller?
"I couldn’t be more satisfied. It is risky, it makes me nervous, it is full of ups and downs, it is a big challenge, it requires lots of work, researching, rehearsals, energy. Yet it is exciting and emotional. The word 'routine' does not exist in my world."
"For me it is one of the rare careers that keep us synchronised with the past and present. To deliver a good story you have to be present with your audience, you have to be aware of the moment, while you bring the knowledge, the wisdom, and ancient life style. And when you get it right, I tell you it is priceless."
What stories attract Ana?
"I let the story choose me. The first time I chose a story to tell for an audience it was a very sweet and simple one. When I saw the material chosen by my stage companions, classic stories and complex myths, I doubted myself and I remember starting my storytelling a little bit ashamed. But it turned out that it was the right choice for me and the audience."
"When a story appeals to me I try to find different versions and then make it my own."
"I tell multicultural stories. But since I moved to England, the tales from my own country started to grow inside me - and it was a logical path to take. When in Brazil I’m comfortable telling about Robin Hood, but I would never dare to do the same here - not with my strong Brazilian style and accent.
"As I started to tell the stories that I had heard so many times in my childhood, I rediscovered my identity. It was quite emotional and gave me the desire to dive deeper."
"I have always used indigenous tales to talk about the creation of the world and the mysteries of nature and environment. But for a while I left some of the indigenous tales more related with relationships behind. The reason was that we find in some tribes a very strong male culture and environment, and I couldn’t connect with these stories until I started to work with the tales collected by the Brazilian Anthropologist, Betty Mindlin. I first came across her work a long time ago and last year, when I started to shape the show, 'Barbecued Husbands', I felt the feminine soul of the tribe entwining with mine."
"Working with those tales has been a fascinating journey, which I started on the fields of Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire, side to side with the talented and inspiring storyteller, Christine McMahon."
How does it feel to tell stories in public?
"It is hard to explain. For a storytelling performance to succeed it requires a perfect choice, with balance with connection. The story, the audience and the teller become a kind of 'one being'. Doesn’t matter the age group - adults or children, nor the place – theatre, schools, clubs. It is like being back in the past, around the fire,and in a moment our feeling mingle with the smoke. As I said – hard to explain. Both simple and complex at the same time."
What does the listener or audience gain from being told stories they can’t get from watching television, or other media?
"It is a unique experience. Myths, tales have been told by different medias, and some of them use the most amazing and modern effects. But, in my opinion, nothing compares to the intimacy, connection and moment lived during a live storytelling performance."
"I once took a group of young students to see a storyteller performing Beowulf, and the film had just been released. Some of the young boys were not impressed to go to the show, but when they left their comments were of how amazing it was and even better than the movie".
"Each storyteller has a different style. I always suggest that people who are not familiar to storytelling performance should go and see at least three different shows, before making up their minds. Festivals are absolute brilliant for that - an opportunity to get a proper experience of the amazing storytelling world."
Ana is appearing at the Settle Storytelling Festival, North Yorkshire, 10 - 12th October, 2014. More information via the link below.
If Ana could have just three wishes, what would these be?
"To travel around the world listening to all the stories."
"To understand and speak all the languages - please !!!."
"To be able to keep all cultures alive."
You can find out more about Ana via the link below.