Greek daily newspaper Eleftherotypia22/01/2010 Eleni Sarantiti’s review of ‘We’ll Tell Lies, We’ll Tell the Truth’


‘We’ll Tell Lies, We’ll Tell the Truth’

Adapted and read by Lily Lambrelli
Music by Myrto Bocolini
Illustrations by Corinna Derr

Patakis Publications

Lily Lambrelli has been telling Folk tales from the oral tradition for more than ten years now and has become well-known for her qualities as a story-teller both in Greece and abroad. She has also written some wonderful folk tales of her own,  published in seven little books intended for children and one aimed at adults. The folk tale, she once told me, is the most ancient form of literature. It was born at the same time as human speech and certainly well before the birth of writing. Lambrelli, who lives and works in Brussels, was initiated into the art of story-telling by the anthropologist Nicole Belmont, then learned at the feet of numerous story-tellers including the African Maurice Boycasse, the Arab Hamadi, the Belgian Stephane van Hoecke and the Frenchman Michel Hindenoch. She also travelled back and forth from Paris for four years to learn from the great French teacher and story-teller Henri Gougaud, to whose team she now belongs. ‘Thanks to him’, writes Lily Lambrelli in her brief introduction, ‘I feel that I belong to the noble family of saltimbanques’.

These ‘saltimbanques’ or public entertainers, story-tellers in this case, have enjoyed a rebirth in Europe in recent years, thanks to their lively and sometimes magical performances. In public squares, in schools, theatres and even in warehouses the story-tellers’ art is blossoming, for their words not only entertain their audiences but make their dreams come true.

‘Folk tales are full of wisdom  -that is why they address themselves to the wise, to children, that is. Children are the natural -though not the only- audience for folk tales,’ Lambrelli stresses. ‘The folk tale is something very strange,’ she adds. ‘It seems humble and of no importance, clumsy, naïve and artless yet it has all the qualities of a great work of art: it astonishes time and has EVERYTHING within it. Nothing has ever astonished time more than a folk tale’.

To be sure, the folk tale was born in a time when nothing but the spoken word existed and has come down to us via the most vulnerable and yet all-powerful means: the human voice. At times it resembles a sailing boat, at other times a dugout canoe and at others an ocean liner. It sails the seas of dreams and contemplation. ‘Breaths of freedom propel it’.The listener holds the wheel. The shore is life itself. It invites you to enjoy its festival for one more day, for many more days still. It urges you on to long and to desire. ‘I tell folk tales because I want to remember that high up on my shoulders I have the stubs of wings. I tell folk tales to remind those who are listening that they, too, have stubs of wings’, the marvellous story-teller Lily Lambrelli continues.

And the insignificant little mouse she tells us of in that gem of Cheyenne indian folk tradition called ‘The April Cloud’ would certainly have had a pair of wings. He wouldn’t have acquired them all at once. They simply grew huge and came close to blotting out the sun when  he sacrificed his life for those who suffered, forgetting himself and his dream of meeting the white spots on the sun and experiencing the ultimate happiness that had been foretold for him. The April Cloud gave up his sight, his vital forces, his strength and health for others; and when he arrived and almost touched those white spots and their comforting warmth he had so longed for he was no longer a wretched little mouse; he had been transformed into an eagle of majestic beauty and omnipotence.

Besides this, Lily Lambrelli tells three other folk tales on her CD: ‘The Treasure of the Baobob’ from Africa, ‘The First Mosquito’ from China and ‘The Fifth Dream’, a Navaho Indian folk tale. Her expressive voice, her respect for for the sacred relics of these peoples, her long career as a performer and her dedication to her art make this wonderful recording a pleasure to be enjoyed by both young and old. Myrto Bocolini’s discreet musical accompaniment seems to bow in honour to these memorials of the spoken word.