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posts: 104
reviews: 19

My Arabic is limited to basic conversation, asking questions and haggling. I did better than expected on my last trip. I didn't get a chance to see the storytellers 2 years ago. I will be in Marrakech for a longer stay this time. Can I hire someone to translate for me since I can't interrupt the storyteller or ask him to speak slowly? Maybe sit on the outskirts of the circle and have someone whisper the translation descretely?

21 replies to this topic
Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Marrakech
posts: 3,924
reviews: 8
1. Re: Storytellers

Try to enlist the help of an English student from Caddi Ayyad University

It will be safer and may even be for free provided the student doesn't have class on you the day you intend to visit Jemaa Elfna square.

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 5,369
reviews: 36
2. Re: Storytellers

People love a good story and I've often stood for a minute or two watching the faces of those listening to the storytellers. BBC Correspondent Richard Hamilton gave a talk at the British Moroccan Society on the storytellers of Marrakech. His book is excellent, see richard-hamilton.com/the-last-storytellers/

And an interesting letter from King Mohamed VI

Having read many of the stories the backgrounds need explaining and I think it would be extremely difficult to give a meaningful translation on the fly, perhaps you could record them for later translation?

Edited: 6:09 am, April 04, 2013
posts: 104
reviews: 19
3. Re: Storytellers

I enjoyed reading the novel "The Storyteller of Marrakech" by Joydeep Roy -Bhattacharya. Also "Moroccan Folktales" by Jilali El Koudia" ---gruesome reading in that book but similar to stories and songs all over the world.

I suppose that watching the storytellers and the listeners will be good enough. And a translator to explain what I missed will keep me coming back. Thanks

Paris, France
posts: 834
reviews: 63
4. Re: Storytellers

I am interested in this post about Storytellers. Can you tell me more?

Are you referring to random people telling stories in the street

Marrakech, Morocco
posts: 4,324
reviews: 55
5. Re: Storytellers

The story tellers are to be found in the evening at the central medina square, Djemma el Fna. Not all speak in Arabic (Moroccan Darija that is) but in a Berber dialect. They combine traditional folk tales with more modern (and often satirical) comments on current politics. Some will leave their story telling at some crucial point (much like modern soaps!) so that the listener needs to return the following evening to hear the next episode.

Rabat, Morocco
posts: 2
6. Re: Storytellers

there's not many left according to those who know. would be interested to hear how you get on.


Marrakech, Morocco
Destination Expert
for Morocco
posts: 2,114
reviews: 64
7. Re: Storytellers

there are usually a couple in the square at night, always wondered what they were saying as they seem to draw big crowds

posts: 884
8. Re: Storytellers

Storytellers is an entertainment in Moroccan sociaty for a long time, comes through the passed generation during the previous kings as they were having this people giving the show and telling the stories to the king, as they made the square for that shows like they have in el Hedim Square in Meknes, for Essaoui people and Storytellers to give the show to the king Moulay Ismail during the 17th Century and it goes like that till nowadays, people having that as their job but they have some very interesting stories which gives the writers more chance to develope their skills, moreover; for understanding what they say if your arabic is okay, then just focus and ask for a slow speaking, or having the story teller privately telling you all the stories you are interested in, for students like Truebliever mention is a good idea but they need time to translate all of that once the storyteller speaking needs a live interpreter.

Maybe you can just record what he is saying then later you can translate by someone, or just by yourself if you understand arabic.

Have fun and welcome to Morocco.

posts: 104
reviews: 19
9. Re: Storytellers

Hamid, what a great idea! If I can hire a storyteller, get an interpreter from my riad, invite other guests who don't understand the language for a private session in the afternoon...Sounds like a wonderful way for travellers to appreciate the art of storytelling, gain knowledge of the culture and provide extra income to the teller.

Destination Expert
for Marrakech
posts: 3,388
10. Re: Storytellers

Apparently there are just six story-tellers remaining in Djemma El Fna.

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