Martin Shaw on his retelling of one of the greatest Irish myths

by | Feb 4, 2022 | News & blogs, News & blogs: Arts School, Poetics of Imagination

On 11 February, Martin Shaw gives a public retelling of the classic Irish myth The Pursuit of Dermot and Grainne at Studio 1, Lower Close, Dartington. We caught up with him to find out his personal relationship with this ancient story and to ask how he manages to recall the narrative details of such multi-hour, sometimes multi-day performances.

The event comes about through a collaboration between the broader arts team here and Martin’s MA Poetics of Imagination programme at Dartington Arts School. Students will be joining us on the evening, and will get to see first hand Martin put through his paces with this powerful and at times challenging story. How does a storyteller lean into danger? What are the risks in telling a story that might be close to the bone for some listeners? Where are the touch points in a long story that grab people and really pull them into the narrative? 

Martin’s retelling is bound to raise all kinds of intriguing questions for students of myth, especially as is the case in the Poetics degree, where the focus is very much on the story itself, and how it is performed by the teller, as apposed to more traditional anthropological or socio-historical readings. 

Martin says in the interview: “I’m not a bullfighter, but I’m a bit of a bull dancer. And the story is the bull, and you learn to make certain moves at certain times that mean you don’t get gored by it.” 

“Stories and myths like to see the teller work hard to recall them. It’s as if as soon as you’ve told it, it swims away like a salmon unless you go through the difficult labor of recalling it.”

 We hope that you will “lean into danger” (Martin’s words) and join us for the retelling of the Pursuit of Dermot and Grainne. Due to popular demand we have increased the capacity of the event to allow more people to join us on 11 February at 7.30 in Studio 1, Lower Close, Dartington.