Confluence Storytellers Finally Meet Up In Morocco!


Blog post by Laura Hudson Mackay

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Anne touched down in Marrakech in good time for supper on the roof terrace of Riad Romm’an. We enjoyed the evening catching up and chatting about our week ahead in the Red City.

The next day we attended a Confluence Storytelling Workshop hosted by Mehdi at the American Language School in Marrakech. Where Anne and Mehdi finally got to meet!!! We had to split them up to stop them talking…wow storytellers really can talk!

At the workshop, teacher, Lamy Mossadeq, and her students were welcoming and friendly. After introductions, everyone split into 3 groups and guided by Mehdi and his expertise, new stories were created, including full plot lines with numerous characters, the stories were then performed to the class.

Nearing the end of the event, Anne shared ‘The Wren Story’ from the Confluence Happiness theme, which the students loved. They commented on her delivery and how she used her whole body to become like a bird to communicate the story. To finish the evening Mehdi, once changed into his traditional hooded cloak (djellaba), told a story, also from the theme of Happiness, entitled ‘The Barber and the Merchant’.

Confluence is delighted to now be working with this new generation of Storytellers in Morocco and we look forward to receiving new stories from the students on the seven themes of Confluence.

The next morning, Anne relaxed, by sitting in the shade and reading Richard Hamilton’s book, The Last Storytellers, in which he tracked down the 6 last elderly storytellers in Morocco and recorded their stories.

I met up with friends, Per Sjodell and Patrick Benjaminsson of Red City PR (and finally got to meet their gorgeous Dachshund puppy, Cicero!)  Over lunch we talked about Confluence and how the project is developing between Scotland and Morocco and of course invited them to the Confluence event party later in the week. We also talked about our ideas of opening up the project and researching links with the Nordic countries. They loved the idea and excitingly we will be working with Red City PR to develop this more in 2018.

The next day Anne, Mehdi, Houssain and I met up at the main Square in Marrakech with Lori Gordon from NGO; ElFenn Maroc, also there to meet us was storyteller Hamza Saidi and photographer Ali. All of us travelled together to Ait Ourir about 40 minutes outside Marrakech, to work with the children. I had visited the same NGO in November 2016 and it was so lovely to see many of the same children and work with them again.

After introductions, Houssain and I taught a photography workshop with one group of around 15 Children and young people, and made sure we gave enough time for them to put into practice what we had taught. Meanwhile, Anne and Lori hosted an art workshop, creating art from recycled materials. The two groups then swapped over and we did the same again. Then everyone got together outside for a number of magical stories told by Mehdi, Anne and Hamza.

The next day the same group of children travelled to Marrakech and put their newly learned photography skills to the test in the Medina! After a full morning everyone met up at Marrakech Henna Art Café where the children were presented with certificates and everyone enjoyed celebrating with treats and drinks before heading back home to Ait Ourir.

On our final day in Marrakech there was lots to prepare as we hosted a public Confluence event at The Heritage Museum in Marrakech. The Museum, a family-run business, showcases a beautiful collection of unique Moroccan Berber, Arab and Jewish artifacts. There are six display rooms and four halls along with a roof terrace, which offers superb views over the Medina.

The evening event took place in the courtyard of the museum, surrounded by stunning traditional architecture and zellige tiling. There was a lot of chatter and anticipation and after an opening welcome and introduction, Mehdi, Houssain, Anne and I explained about Confluence; how it began, how it has developed, about the artist residencies and exchanges, about the new stories being written and new visual art being created and especially how people can now be more involved.

Throughout the evening, Anne and Mehdi told stories from the seven themes, it was a wonderful night where new friends were made and the Confluence family grew.

The next step is to create a book of all the stories collected, both traditional and modern, along with the photographs being taken, which will show in detail the links between our stories and cultures.

If you would like to join us on the journey and become a Confluence Photographer or a Confluence Storyteller please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment below or email me at [email protected]

Laura x