Tales from Fat Tulip’s garden and the craft of storytelling

Fat Tulip

I have recently rediscovered a childhood favourite of mine. Our good friends the Spaldings told me to jump on Youtube and watch old epidsodes of “Tales from Fat Tulip’s Garden”. What I learned by watching was that I have a lot to learn about the craft of storytelling.

For the uninitiated, Tales from Fat Tulip’s Garden was a TV show shown when I was growing up as a filler programme on the ABC (they have those little bits of shows that they use to plug the gap usually filled by ads. on other stations). The only actor on the show was Tony Robinson (of Black Adder Baldric fame), and he delivered a 10 minute story. The most amazing thing about the show was that… well… that was about it as far as the format of the show went. No other actors, few props, little other sound or musical interjection. And yet this splindly little bard had/has me gripped by the genius of his story telling.

As far as I can glean, this was his intention. Robinson saw a huge deficiency in childrens’ television in that the imagination is hung on a hook in the cupboard while the stories are offered like a saline drip, rather than a full bodied Pinot Noir.

But it isn’t just kids who could benefit from watching an episode or two of Fat Tulip. Preachers of the word  spend a lot of time telling stories to make their point. I think a few less stories would fall flat if we listened to Mr Robinson.

Here are a few things that I’ve picked up on so far:

– Robinson realises the difference between reading a story in a book and telling a story. He is an actor. He incorporates movement, a few props and voice characterisation to help us move through the story with him.

– Robinson will, ever now and then, during a line that delivers plot end the sentence with something like “did he?” It’s a clever little trick because it requires the reader to be present, in the place where the story is.

– His stories are perfectly crafted. They have a clear beginning, predicament, quest, climax, denouement and ending. People like that!

So I’m looking for tips on storytelling. What gems can you offer in crafting and delivering the perfect story?



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3 responses to “Tales from Fat Tulip’s garden and the craft of storytelling

  1. Dont have any gems, but loved this show!

    Have you seen him talking history? It’s quite strange. but good.

    I think practice is supposed to be good…could start a cross-blog story or something? you write the beginning, i’ll do predicament etc?

    • steveboxwell

      That’s a great idea! Lets figure out the details and begin next term (you know… seeing as we won’t have anything else to do) 🙂

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