An Evening of Stories

Lat night I went with my friend to Exeter Phoenix, the local arts centre, where a group of volunteer researchers and story tellers gathered to talk about Exeter’s multi coloured history. We learnt about the city’s medieval Jewish population, and about a visit to the synagogue.

American GI’s were stationed here in World War Two and were segregated, with the black soldiers being kept over the river in Westexe and not allowed into the city centre. They won the hearts of the people in the St Thomas area and had some good times with the local high school girls!

Our Royal Albert Museum has had a beautiful carved and painted stone Ganesha in its colections for many years. It inspired some of the group to tell the story of how Vinayaka Ganesh  became the revered deity, that drives away sorrow and obstacles. Maybe Madhu will tell us the story.

To bring us into the 21st century some young women from St James High School performed their own play, ‘Anna’s Story’, a moving story about the impact of racism.

There were several more stories and two super musicians, with an eclectic mix of instruments, who improvised thoughout the performances and during the interval. A fab evening and I’m looking forward to the next.

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It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind  and the self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware of the stories you read or tell: subtly at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world.’

Ben Okri