Interviews with Storytellers - Godfrey Duncan (TUUP)

Godfrey Duncan
TUUP is performing at the Settle Storytelling Festival 2011.
Tell us something about your background.
 
I am from Guyana in South America but grew up in England. I went to British Guyana on summer holidays with extended family and my parents still live there. Now I live in London.
 
Where does the name TUUP come from?
 
TUUP, short for The Unprecedented Unorthodox Preacher came to me in a dream.
 
Why did you become a storyteller?
 
I started as a performance poet, doing readings and gravitated from there. Growing up in London, I was lucky. I was always surrounded by the Guyanese community of artists, photographers and thinkers. When there was a community celebration, we all got together. I went to lots of international book fairs and there was always people writing and performing poetry.
One day I saw John Agard perform without a book and it touched something in me. This wasn't acting or reading. It was something different. I was in my 20s and friend of the family asked me to come into a primary school and tell the class a story. At first I didn't think I could do it. The teacher was so sure I could. Around that time I saw Marc Matthews and it just blew my mind. He told Carlton and the Kite. He helped you transcend your environment in an imaginative way. I knew then that this is what I wanted to do.
That was 26 to 27 years ago. Now I'm lucky to perform all over the world. 
 
Where do you get your stories from?
 
Research and reading mostly.  I really want to get back to Guyana, and collect stories and I hope to go next year.
Nowadays I tell stories from around the world. The foundation of my stories tends to be African and Caribbean, but after working with artists like Flora Gatha. I've also been influenced by Indian stories.  For me, I like to tell a good story that needs to be told wherever it may be from.
Nowadays I fuse storytelling and music. Working with Sheema from Transglobal Underground
 
What advice do you have for aspiring storytellers?
 
Be true to yourself.
 
Who is your favourite storyteller?
 
Xanthe based in London, she's wild and crazy and I like Jan Blake, Ben Haggerty and Hugh Lupton.
 
What is your favourite story?
 
I like Carlton and the Kite. When I first heard it, I told it the next day.
 
How do you relax?
 
Making ear plugs. They are like discs, made of bone and other things. I wear them instead of the ear rings.  I make new ones. It's one of my small joys.