Stories From the Otherworld Series
Stories From the Otherworld Series (audio cassettes) with stories told by Mara Freeman, and music by Gerry Smida.
Vol. 1: Celtic Tales of Birds & Beasts. (available as CD 2014 From Amazon)
Vol. 2: Tales of love & Transformation. (does not appear to be available 2014 on website)
Both produced by Chalice Productions, 1996.
Some materials invite immediate attention, and such was the case with these beautifully packaged tapes. It was a pleasure to discover that their exterior quality reflected the care that was given to the production of the stories themselves. Volume 1 of the series includes tales from Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Most story-tellers will be familiar with the Sword of Light, The Children of Lir, and the basic Selkie Story. Lesser known tales are The Black Wolf, and The Legend of the Oldest Animals.
Volume 2 includes Tam Lin, The Story of Deirdre, The Wooing of Etain, and The Mother of Oisin.
Mara Freeman, a British storyteller now living in California, has adapted the stories from a variety of sources, and much of the strength of the tapes is in her lyrical retellings. Like a true seanachie, she uses rich and poetic language to open the door to the otherworld and its events. The spoken word is accompanied by the music of Gerry Smida--largely harp, whistle and pipes. The music is used most effectively in Vol. 1. In the second volume, I would have appreciated more of the music of silence from time to time to allow for the full appreciation of the language of the stories. As it is, the music, rather than the teller's voice, often carries the emotion. Freeman's voice has a repeating musicality which reflects her country of origin.
In Tales of Love and Transformation, Freeman is not unlike the ancient Irish fili at his oracular work: she enters the otherworld and reports the tales to the listener. There is a sameness to the pacing and interpretation which, along with the almost continuous background music, has a nearly hypnotic effect.
In Celtic Tales of Birds and Beasts, Freeman uses more vocal characterization and narrative emphasis to take the listener with her into the stories. Alice Kane's tapes of Irish Wonder tales (The Storytellers School of Toronto) are the only other audio source of these stories of myth and enchantment that I am aware of, and they are stories that are too good to miss.
Order from Chalice Productions, P.O. Box 3839, Carmel, CA 93921 : 08622-0330.
FAX 408 626-3170.
Available 2014 http://www.chalicecentre.net/index.html with link to Amazon.com
The Second Story Review, Vol 1, No. 4, December 1996