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Open Right

Jan Wositzky

Entertainer, Storyteller/Performer

Jan ‘Yarn’ Wositzky is a writer, storyteller and musician, with a forty-year career in books, broadcasting, radio, television, bands, theatre, and solo performance. He came to Australia as a boy in 1956, with his Czech-Scots family, and has made a lifetime exploring this land, it’s music and stories.

All of Jan’s presentations for schools are designed carefully to match up with points along the VELS Curriculum for both Primary and Secondary levels. Ask an agent at Booked Out to forward you the full curriculum breakdown sheets if required.

Where were you born?

I was born in Scotland in 1951, and came here with my Czech-Scots family in 1956.

What other jobs have you had?

I’ve been a fettler on the old Ghan railway line, gardener, festival director and a producer of historical events.

What themes are recurring in your work?

My work is all about finding a deeper Australian story. My Scots mother and Czech father were both steeped in the music, literature and folklore of their homelands, and I had to find that connection in Australia. As it happened, I fell in love with this land, and my life and work has been one long exploration, passing on the gems I find. Recurring themes? The relationship between black and white Australians, humour and innovating with traditions.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Three European tours with the Bushwackers Band (1970’s); doing my Bill Harney piece to 7,000 people in the Sydney Entertainment Centre; being honourary performer before the Dawn Service at Gallipoli, Anzac Day 2003, with my show “Lest We Forget’; getting up my first one man shows – ‘Whitefella Learns to Dance’ and ‘Buckley’, and cracking it with school kids.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about storytelling, Australian music and history, old time banjo, the greatest storyteller Joseph Campbell, and the greatest yarn-spinner Bill Harney (look ‘em up! You won’t be sorry).

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I play old style claw-hammer banjo, mouth organ, a bit of uke, bodhran (Irish drum), and I just might be the best spoons and bones player in Australia.

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