“It’s a pleasure to make the story with the audience, rather than just for them.”
In its 1000-year lifetime, Beowulf may well have been told and retold more often than any other tale in the English (or Old English) language. For his part, Seth Kriebel is determined never to tell it the same way twice. Each time he performs Beowulf is different, with the audience stepping into the hero’s shoes, his epic tale guided by their choices. At the centre of it Seth, our storyteller, is busy poetically re-weaving the centuries-old narrative. Below, he tells us a bit more about what inspired him to create this show…
What can we expect from Beowulf?
Fun, adventure, surprises… the aim is very much to have a good time and hear an exciting and moving story. The interactive bits give it a unique twist, but I don’t want anyone to worry about that part… it’s absolutely fine to just sit back and enjoy the show — I don’t pick on the audience or drag people up on stage. I want everyone to have fun!
Why did you choose to perform Beowulf? And why in this way?
Beowulf is one of oldest surviving stories in English… but it is not very well known in England. As well as being a great adventure story, it is a story about stories, so it seemed a natural fit as a jumping off point to look at why we tell stories and how they are composed and passed through the years… and what better way to do that than to make the story anew with the audience each night?
How tough a challenge does the audience interaction pose to you?
The audience interaction is fun! Even if it gets a bit sticky and I have to hustle to keep things on track, it’s a pleasure to make the story with the audience, rather than just for them. It really makes each night different… so I have just as much fun as the audience, discovering new bits of the story for the first time.
Why do you think the story of Beowulf has endured for all these centuries?
Mainly, it’s a ripping tale. But it’s also an archetypal adventure and metaphor for a person’s journey through life. The original is a great work of epic poetry, so the craft behind the language has helped it endure. Plus, it has served as a major influence on other works which have come to prominence (for example, The Hobbit), so its fingerprints are all over our culture.
Who or what inspires you?
I’ve always been strongly influenced by games, and their ability to get people involved in building an experience together. This show has a very playful side… it’s very much a story and a game, bringing together two of my favourite things!
You can see Seth Kriebel in Beowulf on Thursday 14 March. Click here to join the story.