Clare Murphy is bringing her talent for the spoken word to the University of Manitoba.
The storyteller, writer, actor, director and producer became the new storyteller-in-residence at the U of M’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture, or CCWOC, this month.
The CCWOC was created to provide a space for scholars, students and visiting artists to collaborate, create works of verbal art, and study the relationship between oral and written culture.
Murphy, who hails from Dublin, Ireland but lives in London, England, had applied for the position once before and said she’s thrilled to be given the chance to work at the U of M.
"I’ve been travelling all over the world for the last five years, and the opportunity to be still and work deeply on my work is so attractive," Murphy said, adding the life of most storytellers is often nomadic.
"This is an opportunity to be somewhere where there is focused work happening. For three months I can just be here, be focused and be available to people."
Murphy said one of the most interesting things for her as an artist is meeting other artists and encouraging young artists to have faith in themselves, take risks and learn from other people.
While she’s here, Murphy will visit classes, mentor storytellers, writers and other creators, and give workshops as well as spend time working on her own work.
Murphy will also hold office hours where people can come in and chat with her about their work.
"I’m very keen to get across that you don’t need to fully know the extent of your artistry to come and talk to me. If you’re just interested in storytelling, come in and talk to me," Murphy said.
While Murphy said there’s a million ways to become a storyteller, she stumbled upon the art in 2001 after someone pointed out that her writing had a strong narrative voice and suggested she try storytelling.
Murphy began to seek out storytellers and shadow them. However, she said her career as a storyteller didn’t take off until a few years later.
In 2006, during Project ‘06, an artistic revolution in Galway, Ireland involving 300 artists, Murphy was part of an arts festival involving 140 events over 10 days.
Murphy said after that, her storytelling started to snowball.
The snowball turned into an avalanche, Murphy said, and her craft has taken her all over the world to teach, learn and tell stories.
"I was getting so much work, and I thought, well maybe I shouldn’t bother getting a real job, maybe I should just keep telling stories. And here I am seven years later," she said.
Some of Murphy’s accomplishments include founding and hosting a storytelling performance monthly in Galway, an event which ran for five years. In 2007, she was awarded the Social Entrepreneurship Level 1 Award for her applied storytelling work in the community with at-risk groups including the elderly, refugees, and teens. She’s performed at the Globe, Soho and Barbican theatres in London. She tells stories for all ages in English and Spanish, from many different cultures.
Murphy will serve as the storyteller-in-residence until April.
For more information on the CCWOC go to umanitoba.ca/centres/ccwoc. For more information about Murphy and her work go to claremurphy.org, or facebook.com/storytellerclare.