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Diving into Connection: A Transformative Storytelling Retreat Experience

An interview with BRAVA Talent, Carla O Shaughnessy

VO storytelling retreat attendees in class

What made you decide to book the VO Storytelling retreat with BRAVA?

I was intrigued about what exactly we’d be doing - although I knew that it would be a creative, nourishing experience and a lovely opportunity to get to know other people. The beautiful setting in Devon was also a massive draw. The fact it was the first BRAVA retreat felt significant too, I didn’t want to miss out on being part of it!

What was most useful about the experience?

Having the opportunity to spend time with other VOs, in a comfortable, relaxed setting. With three young kids, I rarely get the chance to grab time for myself so it felt like a real treat.

On the Friday there was talk of going for a swim in the sea the next day and I thought there was no way on this earth I would be doing that in February. But when Saturday came and everyone was excited about getting on their wetsuits I decided to put my apprehension to one side and just go with it. And it was the best thing ever! It was a real bonding experience for the group and I was proud of myself for doing something so totally out of the ordinary. It broke the ice and set the tone for the day ahead. If I could get in the freezing sea I was now up for anything!

It was just as well I’d had that confidence booster - as if someone had told me in advance that as part of a drama exercise I would end up on all fours bleating like a sheep I would have run for the hills. But I found myself enthusiastically embracing whatever came along and really enjoying it. It reminded me of all the drama courses I used to do back in my 20s and it was great to revisit those memories and have the freedom to play.

There was a story slam on the Saturday night where we all had to stand up in front of the group and tell a story about ourselves. As someone who prefers to hide behind a character than talk about myself in front of a group, this was pretty daunting. But as we took our places in front of the log burning fire and told our stories, they were met with such interest, warmth and kindness. I couldn’t imagine a nicer group of people to do this with.

It was so valuable having the time and space to listen to everyone’s stories. They were all brilliant in different ways. If you’re ever in the pub with Paddy, definitely ask him about his dramatic experience in Singapore!

VO storytelling retreat attendees in the sea

How did you find working with the workshop leader?

Brilliant - it was obvious Melissa and Chris had put a lot of thought and care into the planning and content. I especially liked the fact that everything was low pressure. It didn't have that horrible corporate away day feeling - thank god! Just an opportunity to think and reflect in a lovely environment with creative people.

Has this training or experience changed the way you feel about VO?

Yes, it's made me realise that there's still so much to learn - the learning never stops - but it's a super fun journey.

Would you recommend this BRAVA Storytelling retreat to others?

Do it! You'll have no regrets.

VO storytelling retreat attendees inside keeping warm

Looking back now, how do you feel about your VO journey with BRAVA

If I hadn’t found BRAVA, I wouldn’t be booking VO work now. It’s as simple as that. I wouldn’t have had the confidence or the tool box. The great thing about BRAVA is that when you finish the courses, it doesn’t end. There are always new masterclasses or socials that bring people together. It’s truly a community and I’m very grateful to be part of it.

What do you think is important about a retreat like this?

This retreat gave me the chance to think and reflect and do something for myself. As well as the warm ups, drama exercises and story slam, I learned so much from chatting to the group about their VO journeys.

Anything else you’d like to add?

A massive thank you to Melissa and Chris for organising and leading such a special weekend and to all the group who came along for the ride. The sea views were breath-taking and the food was amazing!

VO storytelling retreat location

To be added to the waitlist for our next BRAVA retreat, email

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