Updated to 8th February 2014
This official internet Storytelling FAQ is at Tim Sheppard's Storytelling Resources for Storytellers at www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/ .
This FAQ is maintained by Tim Sheppard in England: email email@example.com
Please see the document end for full credits and usage policy for copying this information.
What's new in this update:
Iran’s 3-day International Storytelling Festival; updates for several USA festivals (more to go - if you spot defunct or changed info, let me know!); Cuban Oral Storytelling Festival
Once upon a time, in the land of storytelling, came a young seeker new to the place. He searched confusedly through the myriad threads of words, until he came upon the dark, shadowy cave of Mr. Faq. He knew this from the small plaque at the entrance to the cave that read, "Mr. Faq, Frequently Asked Questions answered. Please ring the bell."
"Mr. Faq," he cried, forgoing the bell, "What IS this place?"
Stepping from the shadows, Mr Faq took a slow breath then began to speak in his deep, slow voice, "This is a place where those who spend their days and nights telling stories to others may gather. Here they exchange techniques and tips, let each other know of conventions, classes and concerts, and discuss storytelling - what it was, what it is, and what it is becoming.
"And, of course, there are stories. There are always stories."
Mr. Faq took a long, deep puff from his pipe, and waited for the next inevitable question. The seeker fidgeted and then burst out, "But Mr. Faq... why?"
Mr. Faq sighed. "Storytelling is an age-old tradition that has existed since the dawn of time in every culture there ever was. Here we may discuss its roots and how they relate to the storytelling of today. It exists in many forms: the traditional folktales around a camp fire, the chanted cultural histories of the African Griot, the mythological stories brought to life by teachers and seekers, the subtle profundities of fairytales, the ingenuities of teaching tales... All these things and more are part of the grand traditions of storytelling.
The seeker scrunched up his face and asked, "Well... what IS storytelling, Mr. Faq?"
"Storytelling is many things to many people," Mr. Faq replied, "It is entertainment, a way of passing on a culture's history, or a way of teaching to both the young and the old. It is something that must be experienced and tried before you can fully understand it, as its live intimacy has a unique power and magic which creates community. More than anything else, storytelling is an art. An art that anyone can participate in. We all are storytellers, whether we realize it or not."
The seeker was silent for a moment. Then, with a new and growing gleam of excitement in his eye he asked, "Mr. Faq, I'd like to tell stories! How can I learn more about storytelling?"
Mr. Faq drew a long, tattered scroll from his cloak and handed it to the seeker. "Read this," he commanded.
You will notice most of the below needs adding to - send me your information! I hope this will get you plugged into the grapevine. The storytelling world is very friendly. If you go to see a storyteller perform, then approach, ask, chat! - we talk for a living and are keen to spread the word.
(and even a few answers - more needed, please contribute!)
The detailed contents list should help you find your way around. But there are further aids to pinpointing information. If you are reading this on a printed page - sorry, you can't use any of them! If you are reading this on computer with an email reader or newsgroup reader, or even a wordprocessor, then use the Find facility which should be in the Edit menu, or possibly a special Search menu. With this you can type in a keyword and the programme will find each place in the FAQ where it occurs. If you are reading this on computer with a web browser, then in addition to a Find facility, you will be able to use the hyperlinks to jump straight from the contents listing to the answers, as well as other internal references and links to other web sites. I'm also considering adding a dedicated search engine - what do you think?
This FAQ is used by storytellers all over the world, so many of the phone numbers are in international format, e.g. +44 (0)117 977-6354. The + means dial your international access code, and the following number is the code for the country; don't dial the (0). If the number is based in your own country, don't dial the +44 part but do include the 0 which is part of the area code.
Yes. You are welcome to spread this FAQ, but not for profit, providing it retains all personal credits. Please see the more specific conditions in the Credits section right at the end. The easiest way to use the Storytelling FAQ is on the worldwide web, and it's always up to date, so you may want to inform people of that.
In western cultures, where storytelling declined drastically before
the recent revival, the word 'storytelling' immediately makes 95%
of adults dismissively think of children. But if they can be persuaded
along to a show for adults they are astounded at the quality and
magic of what they have been missing - those Grimms' fairytales
weren't originally meant for kids at all. In such an environment,
many professionals perform mainly to children but those that prefer
adult audiences can find them if they work at it. Storytelling festivals
and local groups are full of appreciative adults. In many cultures
with more of their traditions and extended family life intact, storytelling
is for all, and even by all.
You don't! There is no consensus, and it is extraordinarily hard to come up with any good definition, long or short. A few people want a definition so that arts organisations will take storytelling seriously as an art-form, but most storytellers are very resistant to settling on a definition in case they get limited or excluded by it.
Good storytelling can be powerful, transporting, and magical, and most tellers agree that this can only fully happen in live performance (whether that may be on a stage or 3 friends round a table). Storytellers don't read from a book, either. Although storytelling is a hot buzzword in many media today, people in those media tend to be unaware of current traditional live storytelling, and yet they wish to transpose its magic into media such as film, CD-Roms, TV etc. These media can learn a lot from traditional narrative structure, but many storytellers do not recognise these forms as storytelling - not because of the innovations, but because of the loss of direct human-to-human interaction. Stories and narrative can enliven many experences, and be used and communicated in many ways, including very innovative forms using the internet, but storytellers tend to restrict the word storytelling to the direct live art that has a power and magic quite beyond anything else.
Joseph Sobol, American scholar, storyteller, and historian on the American storytelling revival in "The Storytellers' Journey", says:
"Storytelling is strongly dependent on the power of personal presence -- of the trance-inducing interaction of live performer with live audience, and the direct transfer of narrative imagery from mind to minds. Whether within a traditional community or a contemporary performance context, storytelling tends to be prized precisely for its im-mediacy. McLuhan's slogan that the medium is the message is fundamental to the world of contemporary storytelling, which is why extensions of it into the far more efficiently commodifiable worlds of popular media are so fraught with paradox, disorientation, and loss of artistic faith."You can find a little more discussion of what storytelling is, and some history, at the What is Storytelling pages of the Call of Story at http://www.callofstory.org/en/storytelling/default.asp
Tim Sheppard's Story Links at www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/storylinks.html will give you a good start. There are many thousands of tales available online.
Read, and listen. Check your local library's folktale collections in both the children's and adult departments, plus the single folktales in children's picture-books. Don't forget the obvious - listen to storytellers! There is now a trend in the USA, but not in the rest of the world, to tell personal stories. Creating stories and telling stories are two different skills, though, so a familiarity with what makes a good story is wise, before telling anecdotes from your life. For help with "Making Fairy Tales from Personal Stories," look at Doug Lipman's article at http://www.storypower.com/lipman/Articles/Finding_and_Creating/fairy_tales.html. Storytellers traditionally feel a responsibility to pass on the traditional tales of their culture, and the old folktales are not only finely honed, over centuries, to be guaranteed entertaining, but their structure has much to teach us about what people like.
Pretend you're confident! - Don't apologise as you start, either with words or a cowed body.
Relax, breathe, play - it's a fun game that everyone wants to play with you, not an ordeal.
Tell in your own words. If you try to memorise the words of the story, you set yourself up for failure and confusion. Just remember the few lines of plot, and feel free to let them come out differently - no matter how hard you try the story you learned won't be the story you tell. Let your imagination work - that's what will create the magic, not your feats of memory.
If you get stuck, keep going. Don't frown, curse, stop, or apologise. Simply describe details of sounds, colours, smells, clothes, atmosphere etc. to play for time - this is also a psychological trick because it stimulates your imagination and mental images, and keeps your energy up, which are the best way to trigger your memory. Or stay silent and still engaged with people's eyes and they'll think it's a dramatic pause, as you let inspiration return (don't look at the floor to remember). Nobody but you knows what you were going to say, so they will never spot your departures from it - there are no 'mistakes'. New improvised details or observations can be gems to keep in for next time.
Keep your stories to ten minutes long or less, to begin with. Time yourself beforehand - just three pages in a book might end up taking 15 minutes to tell. It takes much more skill both to keep people's level of attention and to control the pacing through longer stories.
Take time to finish. Look at people, smile, and listen to their applause - do not run away or gesture to dismiss it, the applause is their chance to give you something back, and the instinctive hiding gestures that most people fall into appear as a little insulting. Accept that they liked it!
There are various web pages with helpful advice. Here is an excellent one to start you off: www.seanet.com/~eldrbarry/roos/eest.htm You can find a whole guide to many webpages on how to tell stories at http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/tellinglinks.html#How to Tell Stories
There are many techniques storytellers use, because people have many styles of learning. Avoid memorising the text itself - storytelling is an oral art, not a literary recital, and is as much about expressing your understanding as it is about getting the story 'right'. Traditional tales are plot-driven, depending on actions and events. If you know what happens next you know the plot, and you can tell that in your own words - which will probably change with each telling. There may be a certain repeated phrase or formula that the story depends on - learn this. But if the whole language of the story appeals to you beware of wanting to keep it - you'll end up making things very hard and will probably sound stilted, and won't be able to relax into the story for fear of making 'mistakes'. Tell the story in your own words each time and there can't be mistakes, plus the audience gets the authentic you - which is what they want and what creates the magic.
So go through the story once or twice, really immersing yourself in your imagination, to get familiar with the plot and allow the images to come to life, and then start telling the story out loud to yourself. Refer back to the source as little as possible, to check details, and your own imagination will have a chance to work instead of the dry rote-learning impulse. With each repetition, more of yourself will be in the story - storytellers call this 'making the story your own'. How long this takes varies with each story and each teller, but many take weeks or more even though they might remember the plot itself within a handful of tries. And note well: your telling and the story's ambience will change completely once you have an audience, so practice on live listeners as part of the refining process, once you know the plot.
For comprehensive discussion on actual learning techniques, go to the Learning Stories compilation. There are more tips at Heather Forest's Learning the Plot of a Folktale, and a guide to other useful websites at http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/tellinglinks.html#How to Tell Stories
There's a plethora of traditional phrases, many of which have a satisfying otherworldly or ritualistic effect. Hundreds are collected at http://www.folktale.net/openers.html (and its companion closings page). Also try "Once Upon a Time, They Lived Happily Ever After", a thesis summary including a 44 page classification of beginnings and endings of traditional folk stories. About a thousand are listed, most with reference to the culture of the story. It's by Herrick Jeffers, 353 Dayton Blvd, Melbourne Village, FL 32904, USA , and costs US$11. E-mail HerrickSTR@aol.com. Or try "When Tigers smoked Pipes" by Sam Cannarozzi published by the Society for Storytelling ISBN 978-0-9554788-2-6 which discusses opening and endings, has a fine and large selection collected over twenty years from written, traditional oral, and contemporary sources, and categorises them.
Breathe! It's easy to forget, when you're anxious, and that makes things worse. Gentle physical exercises beforehand are extremely effective, and also help free you to be more expressive: try yoga, T'ai Chi, Feldenkrais or Pilates. Some people swear by taking herbal valerian tablets, available at health stores, and others by a natural beta-blocker such as eating a banana or two, up to half an hour before performing. Having something in your stomach may make you feel better, or worse. All performers feel stage fright, but the experienced ones channel it into performing energy. Keep at it, and the rewards will soon outweigh the anxiety; after perhaps three or four times you'll begin to relax enough to find the pleasure in it. Remember to relax, play, enjoy yourself - people aren't constantly judging you when they are enjoying a story, and if you have fun so will they, so stop assuming you have to pass any self-imposed, probably unreachable skill standard.
An extensive article full of practical advice and techniques can be read at www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/articles/stagefright.html
If you are authentic, your storytelling will be authentic. The aim is to make the story immediately present. Everybody who tells, gets the story from somewhere. Traditional tales hop from culture to culture. If it speaks to you, you can make it speak to somebody else.
Don't pretend to be somebody you aren't when you are telling. There is a wide consensus that it's okay to tell stories from another culture, with the proviso that you 'make it your own' - as with any story. If you normally use character voices successfully in your stories, you may want to use foreign accents in a foreign story. This is highly dubious. Making the story your own includes telling it from your own perspective, with your own voice. If you have grown up partly in that foreign country, that foreign accent may well be an authentic part of you - fine, then you will also know any cultural sensitivities to beware of. If not, any attempt at the accent will probably come across as a caricature, especially to native speakers. People can get very offended by caricatures, but they don't get offended at heartfelt attempts (even when inept) to communicate genuinely - so stick to what is part of you. You can be welcomed telling a very foreign story to its own natives if you are heartfelt and respectful.
Similarly with character voices: stick to what is part of you. You don't need to use different voices at all. But if you feel comfortable and natural doing so, then they can be good in moderation - enjoy yourself and find your own style. Switching voices all through a dialogue, or using exaggerated voices, can quickly distract from the actual story and diminish the magic. Storytelling isn't acting, and benefits from subtlety and from the flexibility of speaking from your own voice/perspective as well as any characters.
There are a few touchy individuals in every culture who want to fence off their culture and resent foreigners borrowing it, and so you may be told by one person that it is forbidden to tell those stories. However, the great majority of storytellers in each culture, especially struggling or dying cultures, will tell you that the stories should be told as widely as possible. This question is often asked about Native American stories - there is no universal taboo! Part of the function of storytelling is to bridge gaps and improve understanding between different groups, bringing people together. If this is your intention, rather than appropriating or twisting the cultural jewels of a defenceless culture, then you can act with respect and integrity.
The only exception is stories that are considered to be highly sacred, and only to be told at certain times or occasions etc. But if you weren't forbidden to tell it (or given other restrictions) when you heard it, your duty as a teller is to tell it. Stories have always migrated, and thereby lost their contexts and any taboos. If you tell it to your own culture, don't worry, but respect the integrity of the story; if you tell it within its own culture to its natives, respect any traditions. Every storyteller should make considerable effort to research traditions and contexts, but don't be afraid to start off telling while ignorant and grow in wisdom.
A local group gives a teller a chance to meet with fellow tellers, amateur and professional, who can be very supportive and encouraging. Even professionals appreciate such nurturing company - it can be hard to stay motivated without support. It's the ideal place to find the courage to tell your first story in public. You can get feedback on that piece that isn't quite coming together. It provides a friendly audience to try it before a performance. Most groups meet monthly, welcome newcomers and beginners, and won't expect you to tell if you don't want to. Some groups organise occasional special events for telling. Sometimes the group provides workshops to expand your knowledge and skill. And of course you can see and hear many different styles of storytelling, which can be really inspiring. You'll make friends, keep up with the latest news, and swap some great stories.
See the Reference Material section below. There are directories for certain countries, although these tend to list only those who pay to be in them. The USA one is available on-line. Those countries with a thriving storytelling revival have local groups or guilds that meet regularly for story swaps - contact these and you'll find other individuals and join the grapevine. Some of these groups are listed in the directories and diaries in the Reference Material section below. Alternatively, contact the area and national organisations listed below. The best up-to-date source, at least for English-speaking tellers, is the Storytell email list - join and ask who is in your area. See Internet Resources section above for details. If there is no group local to you, start one! Find all tellers and others interested within your area, from the above sources, advertise in libraries and arts centres etc., then set a time and place to meet.
For a long discussion on this, with lots of practical ideas, by professional storytellers responsible for many different groups, go to the Storytelling Groups compilation.
Many folks start either as volunteers or as part of their job--for example, teachers, librarians, read-aloud volunteers. Then the storytelling just evolves if the person wants it to. Volunteering is a good idea. The main thing is getting enough practice, and finding audiences to practice in front of! To be good, tell more! That can be difficult if you are trying to work full time, and have a family and maybe a life too. So consider how much time you can devote to it - and it can become all-consuming. There is so much to learn, so many stories, so many techniques, not to mention philosophy, tale variants, etc.
David Holt and Bill Mooney's book "The Storytellers Guide" (August House $23.95 ISBN 0-87483-482-1) covers many of the issues. In addition Harlynne Geisler's book on "Storytelling Professionally - the Nuts and Bolts of a Working Performer" ($22.50 www.swiftsite.com/storyteller or email her: firstname.lastname@example.org), and David Helfick's book on "How to Make Money Performing in Schools" (ISBN 0-9638705-8-0 self-published by Silcox Productions, P.O. Box 1407, Orient, WA 99160 for $18.95 plus shipping & handling) are well recommended for practical advice on the business of storytelling.
As for when you should start charging and how you'll know when you're good enough, listen to some professional tellers, or experienced tellers in your area. When you have been voluntarily paid a few times it does feel good & eventually you will be confident enough in your abilities, and have a large enough repertoire to set fees. But this varies from teller to teller. It's common for beginning tellers to feel they are not worth paying for at all, but listen to what people say about your performance, not what your self-doubts tell you. If you don't start charging when you are at least keeping your audiences' interest, not only will people tend to take advantage, and not treat you with enough consideration, but you may devalue storytelling in general, making it harder for professionals to earn sensible fees.
Many tellers always charge something, even if it's only travel expenses for a free show. An audience, and more importantly the organiser, will have more respect, even if it is a nominal amount. Find out what other tellers in your area are charging. Don't feel you have to start too small - if you don't value yourself, neither will others, and then it can be difficult to increase your fee. There will always be plenty of people who think you will love to tell for peanuts, 'for the exposure'. As one teller puts it: you can die from exposure. People who hire you don't just have to pay for your telling time, but your rehearsal time, and training. That already adds up, even if your expertise is not yet great. In Britain, I wouldn't recommend doing a 30 - 40 minute show for less than GBP40 plus expenses, even early on; in the USA that would equate to around $60. Add 50% to that once you are more confident, and then increase from there according to what you need (very well-known tellers may charge up to ten or more times that first amount). Series of gigs, work in schools, whole days and other special circumstances may demand a lower per-hour fee, but lots of badly paid work will burn you out and kill your desire to develop - be realistic. Many experienced professionals do elect to also accept a limited number of volunteer or low-paid gigs, usually for good causes that they wish to support. Some tellers present an invoice even for volunteer gigs, with the full fee stated, but marked as waived - this not only makes it clear what your usual value is, but can help the organiser to claim for work-in-kind on their budget.
A good place to start is your local library. Most public libraries provide programs for their patrons at various times throughout the year, and especially during the summer months for school-age children. Public librarians are always looking for new people who can provide programs for children or adults. Most keep a file of resource persons' names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. and share this information with other librarians and local citizens who call the library looking for someone to do a program for their group.
Contact local teacher groups, parent groups, PTA, civic organizations, chamber of commerce, public and private schools, nursing homes, women's clubs, men's clubs, YMCA, YWCA, campgrounds, scouting groups, or any group of people who regularly provide programs for their members.
Prepare a flyer or brochure that provides your name, address, phone number, type of stories you specialize in; type of audience you prefer, such as children, adults, older adults; list of references, places you have done jobs, phone numbers of contact persons; a photo of yourself. Make your flyer eye-catching and professional-looking to distinguish it from the stacks of junk mail your prospective employer probably receives daily, and make sure STORYTELLER is printed in a prominent place so the reader doesn't have to decipher what it is you are trying to convey. Fees do not have to be listed; that's best discussed over the phone anyway.
A lot of storytellers won't touch birthday parties because they don't pay that well and they can be tricky. But a few like doing them now and then. The kids can be fun and the audience is usually more intimate because it's small.
Suggestions for planning a party program: 1. Insist on being the first thing that happens. Get the children before they get the cake etc. It is awkward coming in to a group of kids who are happily playing in a play room, and have to come and sit down to listen to someone they don't know tell stories - especially the toddlers...they just don't care! 2. Nobody else is performing while you are. No clowns blowing up balloons etc. There must be nothing...nothing in the children's hands. 3. For the tiny kids insist an adult sits on a blanket with them. 4. Avoid outdoors if possible - too many distractions. 5. Do active stories that keep the little ones engaged. And sit down low where you can keep their eye contact. 6. For bigger kids, try longer magical stories for birthday parties. 7. Never expect to do more than 30 minute programs in party settings, 20 minutes for tiny ones. 8. Other ideas: Encourage the parent to have a theme party, and then fit stories into the theme - perhaps help them plan the schedule and organize some games or whatever. You might try making up a story with the birthday child in the leading role - and her guests as the support characters - with a lot of acting and a few props.
Mothers want what is best for the party, but may never have had a storyteller before and not understand that you aren't like a magician or juggler. You need to have the children's full attention for 30 minutes and need parents' help to make this happen.
Use one for every gig, no matter how informal. The wording can be simple and just set out the practical details, as a minimum, but for much discussion and samples see the compilation Contracts for Storytellers. You can find one sample contract in Harlynne Geisler's book "Storytelling Professionally - the Nuts and Bolts of a Working Performer" as mentioned above in this section. A contract shows your professionalism to your clients, and helps to pre-empt potential pitfalls to a smooth-running gig. The more informal your gig, the more important it is to set out your requirements and what you are promising - this can avoid nightmare situations!
Have a look at the Finding Stories section here in the FAQ, under Reference Material.
A few tips:
Below is one opinion. If you wish to delve into the complexities, controversies and diverse opinions, look in the archives of Storytell at www.twu.edu/lists/. There you will find a searchable list of large chunks of discussion archives. Search on the keywords of 'copyright' and 'censorship' and you'll find a great deal of intelligent food for thought.
Copyright is a complex issue and is almost completely at odds with the oral tradition. Copyright is designed to protect "intellectual property", whereas the oral tradition relies mainly on the concept of intellectual property not even existing. Hence the clash of these two cultures in the modern world leaves a very unsatisfactory situation. Some storytellers ignore copyright, some get paranoid about it. Most try and apply common sense, realising that the laws weren't made to protect artists from the humble storyteller, but from exploitative profit-making businesses. But the more professional a storyteller you become, the more professionally you must behave.
The law varies between countries, but essentially copyright protects a specific form of words, design, music etc. It doesn't give any protection to ideas. Therefore the exact text of a story printed in a book can be copyrighted, but the ideas in it can't, so someone could adapt them into their own story or version. But a storyteller almost never recites verbatim from a book, so the exact form of those printed words won't be used, and every telling will be a new version. Just how different do they have to be? There are guidelines, but open to much interpretation.
For storytellers there are two kinds of tales: traditional and original. A traditional tale cannot be copyrighted, but one exact form of words telling it can. This means that you cannot republish those exact words, but a storyteller doesn't memorise verbatim, so there's no problem. Traditional tales are yours to tell, wherever you find them. Many have existed for millenia, owned by nobody, and nobody can claim them now and restrict the rights of others, although some have tried. Storytellers do however feel that it's important to "make the story your own" by telling it in your own style, rather than slavishly following someone else's. Many also like to acknowledge their sources, as a mark of respect. Original tales however are usually under copyright, unless the author died long ago - usually 70 years, but this can vary between countries. Note, this is the time after the author died, not after the story was written. But a copyrighted tale can still be told - you should just try and get permission from the author first.
The complications start to arise when you hear a story and retell it. You may think it's a public domain story, but how do you know it wasn't an original copyrighted one? It only takes one person, perhaps not even a storyteller but just a friend chatting to friends, to tell an original tale from a book, and the story can quickly be passed around, from teller to teller. Stories are like this, if they inspire people they travel, and no amount of legislation can stop it. Professional tellers do try and research their sources, partly for this reason.
In virtually the whole world it is rare for tellers to tell copyrighted tales, because we have a vast body of traditional tales all in need of telling. Storytellers share freely, often feeling a duty to retell tales from other tellers, and the attitude to laws is somewhat relaxed and pragmatic anyway. In the USA, telling original tales is much more common, and the attitude to law and asserting rights is different, so one solution has been to tell personal tales from one's own life, thus guaranteeing no rights are broken. But skill at telling a story doesn't equate to skill at creating a story, and a tale with only one teller doesn't get the polish and universal appeal of a folktale.
Much discussion can be found on this in the Storytell archives (if they are working) at www.venus.twu.edu/lists/ . There's much sound advice (ha!) on Doug Lipman's pages at www.storypower.com/lipman/articles/performing/mics.html and www.storypower.com/lipman/articles/performing/sound.html. Bob Shimer has a page of tips (with photos) on equipment at http://drango.com/tips/mic&.htm Microphones and amplification also require practice and technique to use well in performance. Some tellers try and avoid them, feeling they get in the way of intimacy (and bad sound quality or level can ruin it).
Doing gigs can be emotionally and physically gruelling, especially if you have to travel. Be kind to yourself, know your limits, give yourself sufficient rest-breaks, eat healthily, and don't do shows that leave you totally drained. If your body or energy levels suffer, so will your voice. But your voice will also suffer from misuse. Some professions demand bank loans to afford the tools - yours comes free, so invest a little in a few voice lessons and learning preventative medicine. Difficult gigs and bad habits can strain your voice, lessons will help avoid that and develop its power.
Cancelled gigs are embarrassing at best, and can cause serious problems for all concerned. Fight for your health in every way possible. Get allergy shots if you need them. The herb Echinacea definitely helps, but loses its potency with prolonged use. Switch on & off with Astragalus, a slightly less potent Chinese herb. Save Echinacea for times you are most likely to get sick & otherwise use the Astragalus. One brand found in some healthfood stores is Nature's Way & the same brand of Echinacea has been reliable & economical (some folks caution about the need for reliable potency on Echinacea). In addition get serious about handwashing! Especially keep unwashed hands from your food, mouth, nose or eyes, particularly when surrounded by kids. Antiseptic wipes substitute when soap & water are unavailable & some like disinfectant gels. One brand recommended is Purell, an economical moisturizing hand sanitizer available in drugstores.
Brew a strong Echinacea tea when you feel about to catch something (another reason to not overuse it regularly.) Flavoured zinc lozenges are good when you already are sick, but also can be used at the first possibility of anything. When something threatens, take 3 fresh cloves of raw garlic until the danger passes. You can swallow them if you chop them to the size of pills you can manage, or mince them into something. Garlic capsules are nothing like as effective, and odourless garlic capsules are hopeless - don't worry, the garlic smell mostly gets used up fighting illness. 1 clove every other day is a good preventative when you're already in good shape. Vitamin C works as another preventative. Take 1,000 milligrams of time-released vitamin C (with bioflavinoids) in the morning & again at night.
Another option is a gargle with 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. It also helps your gums, but may change their color to gray if you do it too much. (No harm, however, & it kills any germs or viruses lurking around your mouth, as well as taking care of canker sores.) This comes dentist recommended. Another listmember swears by a gargle with iodine-based Betadine when a throat problem threatens. If your throat feels dry chew a little bit of ginger root.
You know you should get lots of rest. . . good luck! Also it's easy to get too little water (note that's _water_, not liquid, esp. anything with caffeine, as that dehydrates), as water can make a major difference between getting sick or not. Try to stay away from sick individuals, too, but that can be impossible when you work with the public & have a family. Healthy food and healthy eating patterns work wonders - loads of fresh fruit and veg, no stimulants, no sugar, junk or comfort food.
When you do get sick try an echinacea tincture as a throat spray. Some recommend using a standard homeopathic remedy mix called Cold & Flu. You also should use zinc lozenges & increase your vitamin C until the gas starts & then know you've hit your limit needed. "Flood" yourself with non-caffeinated fluids, especially water. If your body says no, don't push yourself into burnout by using medicated throat sprays or other symptom-concealers - your voice may die completely afterwards. Don't pass your germs onto your mate, take it as easy as you possibly can (especially avoiding overdoing vocal effects & straining) & start trying harder to prevent the next time.
Speech therapists say if you want to nurture your chords you should avoid (guess!) alcohol, tobacco, nicotine & caffeine. And cold drinks are better than hot; tepid ones best.
See sections below on practical courses in various countries - there are lots. Storytelling is easy to do moderately well (indeed everyone does it everyday), but takes half a lifetime to master (much of which is mastering yourself, with honesty and openness). Forget the fear and start telling informally now without tutoring, you'll be surprised at how satisfied others will immediately be, but be willing to keep learning lots.
You can take all sorts of courses and qualifications, from academic study to practical instruction, up to degree or even Master's degree level. Not that most storytellers have any need of or interest in certificates, but study can certainly add a depth of knowledge. You can find details of lots of courses here below in the FAQ, in the Festivals, Conventions, Events, and Courses section. A comprehensive list of actual college courses worldwide is kept at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/storytelling/courses.html. For more information on various relevant training, follow the links in the training section of www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/tellinglinks.html .
The following questions and many others are awaiting answers. Please help!
How do I relax enough to face an audience?
What types of stories are good to tell to young children? to elementary-aged children? to high school students? to adults? to older adults?
How do I promote storytelling in my community?
How do I start a local storytelling group?
How do I teach students to tell?
How do I handle a disruptive person in the audience?
When can I call myself a professional storyteller?
This is where all the action is - over 600 subscribers, comprising professional tellers, amateurs, librarians and many others, all from over a dozen countries. Such collective experience and expertise makes Storytell the number one resource for tellers; it welcomes both professionals and beginners and their questions, and is a supportive lifeline for many. Subscribers receive around thirty emails a day, or a large digest, but a brief skim with the delete button can narrow them down to as few as you feel like reading.
To subscribe (free) to STORYTELL send an email
Subject: [none needed]
In the message body put only (substituting your own name):
SUBSCRIBE STORYTELL your first name your last name
If you have trouble subscribing, unsubscribing, or with setting subscription options, check out the new official homepage for the Storytell list at http://www.libraryschool.net/storytell.htm if it happens to be working - the old page is at http://www.twu.edu/cope/slis/storytell.htm, but the detailed instructions aren't all up to date, so change your bookmarks. If these and the Storytell members can't answer your questions, in the last resort try Ellen Perlow: email@example.com. She is the TWU Coordinator, in the Technology Assistance Group. The list-owner firstname.lastname@example.org never replies to emails.
The vast amount of intelligent debate and valuable information, from January 1995 onwards, is automatically archived. The archives ought to be accessible (but often aren't) via the web at www.twu.edu/lists/ , searchable by keyword (don't forget the slash at the end of the address), or via www2.twu.edu/archives/storytell.html , arranged by date-month/year. The archives available via the web lag behind the current date by at least a month, perhaps several, but you can also retrieve the archives by email, and these are right up to date. Get a list of the available archive files by sending the words INDEX STORYTELL in the body of a message to email@example.com, then you can then order these files by email with a GET STORYTELL LOGxxxx message. The archives come in large chunks of between 300kb - 2.5 Mb, so use EDIT then FIND on your browser or word processor to locate key words within the document. For further explanation on using these archives, go to Papa Joe's excellent site mentioned above.
If you need to leave the list or are too busy to receive emails for a while, you cannot set it to temporarily stop mailing you (nomail), you must leave completely (unsubscribe). Send an email to:
LISTSERV@VENUS.TWU.EDU with the words:
in the body. No subject header is needed.
Not about storytelling directly, but useful for tracking down more academic information about tales, subjects, origins of things etc. To subscribe free to Folklore send a message to
with only the words SUBSCRIBE FOLKLORE in the body.
Ratatosk is the name of the squirrel who runs and gossips his way up and down the tree Yggdrasil in Norse mythology. It is also the Scandinavian storytelling mailing list. The list discusses in various Scandinavian languages, but English posts will be accepted and understood also. http://hem.fyristorg.com/kulturkemi/net/
This list is exclusively for people to tell personal stories, not discussion. It is presented as a virtual campfire, all welcome. There are over a thousand subscribers. Many stories are presented in more of a literary style rather than an oral storytelling style. More info at www.nerdnosh.org . To subscribe free, send an email message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The message body must read:
This list isn't necessarily of interest to most storytellers. Theoretical discussion on new (interactive) ways of storytelling (cultural/literature/film/media studies perspective). Keywords: interactivity, narrative, simulation, author, reader, reading, hypermedia, interactive -fiction, -storytelling, -scenariowriting. Aim: developing a 'software theory' (starting from the perspectives described above. Email owner at ISTORY-L-Request@NIC.SURFNET.NL for details.
Mainly postings of stories, with some discussion. The stories can be of all kinds, including creative writing, myths, legends, folktales, fairytales, and others. Over 200 members; averages 5 posts a day. To subscribe, send a blank email to email@example.com , or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/storytellers/
A moderated forum, mainly for scholars, sponsored by the Nature in Legend and Story Society (NILAS). NILAS is a group of people dedicated to understanding relationships between human beings and the natural world, through the mediation of stories, poems, legends, pictures, and other cultural products. NILAS also sponsors a yearly conference (traditionally in New York state.) Archives and more information at http://h-net.msu.edu Moderator is Boria Sax, VogelGreif@aol.com To subscribe, send an e-mail message to LISTSERV@h-net.msu.edu with the following contents:
SUBSCRIBE H-NILAS firstname lastname, institution
French language (but English enquiries will be understood) discussion of stories and storytelling, with plenty of events info. Over 100 members; averages 5 posts a day. The storytelling revival is strong in France, and predates those in other countries. To subscribe, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amisduconte
It is now very easy to set up free email lists, and a number of others related to storytelling have been created - some of them quite specialised. However, they don't always attract many participants and some fall into disuse. Most are more related to role-playing games than traditional storytelling. You can set up your own list on a new storytelling subject, public or by invitation only, if you think enough people will want to discuss it. The places to look for public lists are: Yahoo Groups - http://dir.groups.yahoo.com/dir/Entertainment___Arts/Performing_Arts/Storytelling?show_groups=1 or Topica at http://www.topica.com - enter a keyword search for storyteller or storytelling, and check the group descriptions.
is supposed to be devoted to discussion of storytelling, which to storytellers means the oral art of performing stories. It doesn't include the art of writing stories, nor are postings of such stories welcome. Stories that are specifically for oral telling can be posted, and these are usually very different in style to literary writing. The newsgroup is unfortunately inundated with: people who don't understand this and post creative writing; adverts for Web sites of literary e-zines etc; spam and more spam. The intelligent conversation, between professional and amateur storytellers, happens in huge volume on the Storytell mailing list instead (see above). Averages 2 irrelevant posts a day, relevant posts are rare.
is for discussing the art of storytelling in the UK. Storytellers aren't allowed to tell stories on this group. Averages 1 post in two days.
When using search engines to find storytelling websites you will probably find that quite a few sites which claim to be about storytelling are actually about role-playing games, screen-writing, or creative writing. Although these do involve narration, storytellers tend to feel that other disciplines are keen to hijack the term without delivering the same experience as oral storytelling. However, role-playing games are a special case - they are usually run by one person who orally describes detailed imaginary scenarios in which the players find themselves. These descriptions can be very creative, interactive, and may involve many live storytelling skills (when the play is between a group all present together, rather than online). The context and purpose may be different to fireside or performance storytelling, but perhaps the activity may verge on a new form of storytelling.
Here are a few pages to get you started, leading to a great many other links. There are stories from every culture, and there are pages giving advice and information on the art of storytelling.
At www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/ is one of the largest collections of links to stories and storytelling on the web, plus articles, stories, and pictures of the oral tradition in action, and this Storytelling FAQ.
The Storytelling Web Ring: http://www.pjtss.net/ring/ Here you will find a circular tour of over 200 storytelling sites.
The Storytelling Home Page was a major page of links, kept by Jim Maroon, and there are still quite a few web links to it hanging around, but it's long dead and gone. The same goes for Sherri Johnson's Storytelling Resources on the Web, as of 2002. So update your own web page if you have a link to either of these.
www.storyteller.net offers various resources, including free personal web pages for storytellers, discussion forum, online shop, and audio files of stories being told.
The Tellabration home page: http://www.tellabration.org/ explains how and why local groups all over the USA and beyond organise this yearly event. Email the Tellabration Internet Liaison at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Storytelling Directory (USA) is at http://www.storynet.org. The huge web directory page has been redesigned and is now usable and searchable. It includes: More than 600 storytellers from the USA and several other countries, 200 organizations, 200 events, 100 educational opportunities, many offering college credit or continuing-education units, scores of periodicals, dozens of production companies and broadcast programmers. Printed version costs $7.95 in the USA. Contact the NSA: Tel. 800-525-4514 & 423-753-2171 Snail-mail P.O.Box 309, Jonesborough, Tenn. 37659, USA.
The Directory of Storytellers lists over 150 tellers in the UK with descriptions of services, cross-referenced by county etc. Also, some local groups, clubs, plus magazines and organisations. Published by the Society for Storytelling (SfS), PO Box 2344, Reading, RG7 7FG, England. Price UKP 10.00.
The Email Directory of Storytellers in UK and Ireland, compiled by Graham Langley, lists around 50 tellers, at http://www.stories.demon.co.uk/services/directories/tellers.htm and gives simply name, email address and any web address. Email Graham at email@example.com if you qualify and wish to be added, free.
Storytelling in Scotland - the Scottish Storytelling Centre Directory, lists over thirty professional tellers. Each has a photo, biography, specialities and contact details. Available from The Scottish Storytelling Centre, The Netherbow Arts Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, Scotland. Tel. +44 (0)131 557-5724. Price UKP 3.00.
The Canadian Storytelling Directory lists over 150 tellers and Storytelling Organisations across Canada organised by province. It is the official National Directory supported by the Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada. Now in its third edition, priced Can$10.00, it is published by The Vancouver Society of Storytelling, #13 - 2414 Main Street, Vancouver, BC, CANADA, V5T 3E3. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
An online directory of nearly 70 German storytellers is at http://www.erzaehlen.de/knoten2.htm . A printed Storyteller Dictionary for Germany - Austria - Switzerland is available, price: DM 29,80 / SFr 27,50 / OES 218.00. ISBN: 3-89445-259-5 Publisher: Jonas / PRO Marburg, 2000. See http://www.maerchen-erzaehlen.de/
Storyteller.Net - offers a searchable Storyteller Directory at http://www.storyteller.net/tellers/ of those tellers who have webpages with them. Pages are free, so get one for yourself - you can link it to your main site if you have another.
The Storytelling Diary: http://www.sfs.org.uk/
- click on Diary, News & Events, Storytelling Clubs, or Courses,
for details of current storytelling events all over the UK. (Please
note that The Storytelling Diary has moved from http://www.mcs.surrey.ac.uk/Personal/csx1jw/talltales/
- update your links.)
There is also a printed version - you can subscribe to this, or get it free with membership of the Society for Storytelling (see below), or with Fact and Fiction magazine (see below).
The USA National Storytelling Network's Calendar of Storytelling Events at http://www.storynet.org/Calendar/CALENDAR.HTM lists events by state, Canadian, UK, and international.
Storytelling Events Nationwide (USA) and World Wide - this calendar on Harlynne Geisler's website is no longer updated, but may still have useful information: http://www.swiftsite.com/storyteller/incalend.htm.
New Zealand: http://storytelling.org.nz/events.htm
There are a great many traditional tales and myths on the web, from many cultures. For a huge guide to sites with stories see www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/storylinks.html
To find specific folktales or variants, two sources are invaluable: Margaret Read MacDonald's "Storyteller's Sourcebook" which lists stories by thematic type, by subject, by title, & by ethnic grouping. Its bibliography could serve as a recommended reading list of folklore. A multi-volume set called "Index to Fairy Tales" stretches from early in this century to the present. The earliest volumes did little or no subject indexing, but this has improved greatly. They are a guide to folklore of all countries published in English.
There are a number of books called Tale Type Indices, and Motif Indices. These are used to track down variants and sources of tales, and are invaluable for the serious storyteller. Unfortunately they tend to be very expensive, so find them at your local reference library. Doug Lipman has an excellent guide to the title and uses of each index, on his web pages at www.storypower.com.
Also recommended is to join the Storytell email list (see above) and ask. If you are looking for the title or source of a story you vaguely know, or want to find any story with a particular theme, motif etc. to suit your needs, with several hundred experts Storytell has a breadth and depth of collective knowledge up to the task.
Canadian Association of Storytellers for Children (CASC) has a membership of 70, produces a quarterly newsletter with book reviews, stories to share, games to play, news, opportunities, resources. Also hosts concerts, and a regular 'Talking Pot' - a gathering for tellers to share ideas. Established 1998. Contact: Sandra Carpenter-Davis, tel. Canada 416-653-6475, email email@example.com; or Hildy Stollery, tel. 416-761-9037, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada (SC/CC) is the national organisation for maintaining and practicing oral traditions in Canada. They hold conferences every year in a different part of the country. The National Co-ordinator is Jan Andrews, R.R. #22230, Lanark ON, CANADA, K0G 1K0, Tel. (613) 256-0353, Fax 728-3872, and there are a series of Regional Co-ordinators which change regularly, plus local representatives and storytelling groups.
The Storytellers School of Toronto has since 1979 provided courses, held gatherings festivals and events, and been a home to now around 125 members. Publishes a lively quarterly newsletter with articles, columns, news and listings. 43 Queen's Park Circle East, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C3. Tel. Canada 416-656-2445. Fax 416-656-8502. Email: email@example.com. Web www.storytellingtoronto.org
Vancouver Society of Storytelling, 13-2414 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V5T 3E3. Tel. (604) 876-2272, fax (604) 228-1274. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
European Fairy Tale Association (EFA) (Europaishche Marchengesellschaft (EMG)), Schloss Bentlage, 48403 Rheine, Germany. Executive Officer: Thomas Bucksteeg. Tel: 5971 12117; Fax: 5971 53046.
Academics, artists, researchers, publishers, officials, and institutions interested in the study of fairytales as literature, members represent 24 countries are involved in this association. The site promotes research and exchange of information and acts as a liaision between members. It organizes educational courses and records and distributes stories on cassettes. Reference library holds 2800 books.
I don't know of any organisation but Ginen I Hila’ I Maga’taotao siha is a local storytelling group performing in English and Chamorro. Call Lila Gombar at 734-2868, 488-4237 or e-mail: email@example.com; or Patti Quichocho at 734-1691 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rumah Dongeng Indonesia (Indonesia Storytelling House) was established in 1991. Its primary activities include storytelling, teacher training, and publications. WeES Ibnu Say, the founder and storyteller at Rumah Dongeng Indonesia (RDI) has a network of storytellers all over Indonesia. For more information please contact: Mr. WeES Ibnu Say, Rumah Dongeng Indonesia, Jalan Tebet Barat XIII/17., Jakarta 12810, Indonesia. Tel: 62-21-8314057, 62-21-8314058, 62-21-8351386. Fax: 62-21-8297340
Norwegian Storytelling Association. Website: http://home.newmedia.no/~nff
Asian Storytelling Network. Contact Sheila Wee: email@example.com. Involved in running the Asian Congress of Storytellers in Singapore (see events below).
Society for Storytelling (SfS). +44 (0)118 935-1381 (24 hours, enquiries only). Membership Secretary: Robert Turner, 44 York Place, Stoke Village, Plymouth PL2 1BP. Tel +44 (0)1752 569244. http://www.sfs.org.uk This is the only national organisation in Britain. It publishes a lively and useful quarterly newsletter, factsheets and does all sorts of things for storytelling and storytellers. They have published a Directory of Storytellers (see Reference material above), and various stimulating essay-booklets by famous authorities. The annual two-day gathering in Spring is great and attracts hundreds of storytellers. Membership is GBP18.00 a year (or 16.00 concessions, 20.00 abroad in EU, 35.00 abroad elsewhere), including the newsletter, the Storytelling Diary, and discounts to occasional conferences. They also stock a wide selection of storytelling tapes from UK tellers.
The Scottish Storytelling Forum, The Netherbow Art Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, Scotland. Tel. +44 (0)131 556 2647. Preserves, nourishes and promotes the traditional oral art within Scotland, in English and Gaelic, and fosters connections with tellers worldwide. Runs the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, the Scottish Storytelling Centre and its directory of storytellers, and The Isle of Skye festival.
The Folklore Society, in England: Tel. +44 (0)171 387 5894
National Storytelling Network (NSN), PO Box 309, Jonesborough, Tennessee 37659, USA Tel. 423-753-2171, 800-525-4514, 423-753-9331. Fax: 615-753-9331 Jimmy Neil Smith, Exec. Dir. 615-753-2171. Membership $40 p.a. within USA.
Founded 1975, when it was called NAPPS - National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, then called NSA - National Storytelling Association before the current name. 7,000 dues-paying members, representing all 50 states and two dozen foreign countries. This membership includes professional and non-professional storytellers, librarians, educators, therapists, parents and others interested in the art of storytelling, as both an entertainment & educational tool, and who use stories in their daily lives and work. Seeks to provide opportunities to learn about the art. Sponsors educational programs for teachers librarians, & others interested in applying storytelling in their work. Ongoing project to establish a storytelling centre, and Website. Library holds: audio recordings, video recordings. Publishes a substantial bimonthly magazine, "Storytelling Magazine" (ISSN: 0743-1104), with quality articles, also containing listings of new books, cassettes and video tapes, adverts and listings for courses and workshops to improve your skills. Also publishes "National Catalog of Storytelling", semi-annual. "National Directory of Storytelling", annual, 1200 copies of which are distributed free to schools across the USA (see http://www.storynet.org for the online version). Conventions/Meetings: annual National Storytelling Conference - always July; annual National Storytelling Festival - always first full weekend of October, Jonesborough, TN. (1997 Oct. 3-5.)
NSA also sponsors Tellabrations http://members.aol.com/tellabrate around the U.S. and world wide on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. For a modest fee, they send Tellabration producers a packet of P.R. material, ticket slicks, and the proclamation, which they ask that you read to your audience.
The National Story League, the oldest national storytelling organization in the USA, founded 1903, 15,000 members. Contact Jane Hill, National Treasurer, 1219 W. Sanford St., Arlington TX 76012, USA. Tel.(817) 275-2520. Or President: Virginia Dare Shope 1342 4th Ave., Juniata Altoona, PA 16601, USA. Tel.814-942-3449
National convention (workshops and storytelling) is held every other year (even-numbered). District conventions (also workshops and storytelling) are held in odd-numbered years. NSL is a service organization, with most members donating their time for storytelling, or with proceeds of storytelling going to the group to be used to promote storytelling. Magazine called Story Art, included with membership. Cost varies slightly from league to league: around $20 p.a. Divided into regional, state, and local groups. Teachers, social workers, librarians, Sunday school teachers, & others interested in children's work. "To encourage the creation & appreciation of the good & beautiful in life & literature through the art of storytelling." Seeks to discover the "best" stories in the world's literature & to tell them to young people with love & sympathy. Members volunteer to tell & record stories in schools, churches, children's & old persons' homes, hospitals, & playgrounds. Operates National Story Junior League. Conducts seminars & writing workshops; sponsors writing contest. Maintains speakers' bureau. Publications: "Story Art", quarterly magazine. Publishes award-winning oral stories; also provides news of the league & its chapters included in membership dues; $5.00/year for nonmembers. "Story Art Yearbook."
Jewish Storytelling Coalition 63 Gould Rd, Waban, MA 02168, USA. Steve Rosenthal, Chair 617-244-2884 http://www.ultranet.com/~jewish/story.html
Founded 1989, 50 members. Membership: $10 (annual). Jewish storytellers & listeners. Promotes Jewish storytelling & the sharing of Jewish values & traditions. Sponsors story sharings & events; offers story-swaps; maintains speakers' bureau. Reference library holds books, periodicals, clippings. Computer services: Mailing lists. Publications: "Directory of Jewish Storytelling Coalition Performers", annual. Price: free. Conventions/Meetings: Chanukah Storytelling Concert. Tellabration (exhibits). Winter Storytelling Celebration - workshop, includes concert.
National Association of Black Storytellers P.O.Box 67722 Baltimore, MD 21215, USA. Caroliese Frink Reed, Pres. 410-947-1117 (Fax) same number.
Founded 1984, 400 members. Annual dues: senior, $10; student, $10; individual, $20; contributing, $50; organizational, $100; life, $500; youth, $5. Multinational. Storytellers, scholars, & enthusiasts. Seeks to establish a forum to promote the African oral tradition & to attract an audience. Works for the reissue of out-of-print story collections. Conducts educational services & educational programs. Publishes annual Handbook. Newsletter; NABS Brochure; National Association of Black Storytellers Newsletter, semiannual. Circulation: 1,000. Conventions/Meetings: annual National Festival of Black Storytelling.
This FAQ cannot hope to list all relevant details, and will not attempt to provide a diary - only regular events, schools or venues will be listed so that you can contact them for current information. Many countries have no specific story festivals, or are just experimenting with their first. The USA however has a great many - far too many to list every one. I'd like to list all the major ones, whether biggest, best, or most significant for some reason, so that newcomers to storytelling can find inspiration in their area - so let me know if any festivals deserve inclusion or additions to the comments. Likewise, many storytellers offer tuition on demand or occasional courses - consult the directories to find them in your area. This FAQ will only attempt to list regular courses and venues to contact.
Harlynne Geisler maintains a diary of Storytelling Events Nationwide and World Wide at http://www.swiftsite.com/storyteller/incalend.htm.
See the Storytelling Diary at http://www.sfs.org.uk for up to date information about British events and local groups. Click on News & Events, Diary, Storytelling Clubs, and Courses, for festivals, other events, ongoing meetings etc. There are certainly various groups that don't appear in the diary though, and you may find some of them through the storytelling magazines, or the newsletter of the Society for Storytelling.
European calendar of festivals and workshops at www.erzaehlen.de/knoten3.htm . The website is in German, but has some English, and instructions for automatic web translation service into English.
Australian storytelling events: www.home.aone.net.au/stories/nd4stori.htm and click on Guild Events, or Festival.
New Zealand Storytelling Guild events page, for all New Zealand events and festivals: http://storytelling.org.nz/events.htm
A number of storytelling studies courses with academic status now exist, including to degree and master's degree level. A worldwide list of these is being maintained by Eric Miller at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/storytelling/courses.html
Beyond the Border International Festival of Storytelling. Happens for 3 days at the beginning of July, in idyllic surroundings - an old Welsh castle. Tellers from all over the world, with an emphasis on ancient oral traditions and genuine bardic tellers. Superb and very friendly atmosphere, in the beautiful grounds of a fairytale castle. One of the main UK festivals. Accommodation is a basic camping field, for a small fee. Those choosing more luxury in the nearby town will need their own transport and will miss some of the character. Contact Beyond the Border, St Donat's Castle, Vale of Glamorgan CF61 1WF, Wales. Tel. +44 (0)1446 794848. Fax +44 (0)1446 794711. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.beyondtheborder.com
Festival At The Edge Storytelling Festival, Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Third full weekend in July for 3 days. Web: www.festivalattheedge.org. Contact: Contact Sue Chand (Director) email@example.com Tel. +44 (0) 1939 236 626. This is the other main festival in Britain, and the longest-running, taking place mainly on a small hill-top farm, in three fields overlooking the dramatic Wenlock Edge. It has a great atmosphere and quality line-up including tellers from overseas. Commissions new storytelling performances for the festival. A distinct northerly flavour, which includes a bit more integration with folk music than in the south. Free camping on the farm.
Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival, or Féile Scéalaíochta Chléire. First weekend in September. Contact Chuck Kruger, Glen West, Cape Clear Island, County Cork, Ireland. Tel/Fax +353 (0)28 39157. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Web: http://www.capeclearstorytelling.com/ . Cape Clear also run storytelling retreats and workshops, see below.
Scottish International Storytelling Festival. Nine days in late October. Run by The Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, Scotland. Tel. +44 (0)131 556 9579. Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.tracscotland.org/festivals Also runs the Isle of Skye festival.
The Isle of Skye Storytelling Festival, Isle of Skye, five days, late May, founded in 1991, organised by the Scottish Storytelling Centre. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel. +44 (0)1470 511340. Kati Waitzman +44 (0)7867 985578. This festival is all Gaelic language.
Whuppity Scoorie Storytelling Festival, Lanark, Scotland. Courses and workshops, events for children and families, pub sessions for adult tellers and listeners. Contact: Colin McAllister, Arts Officer, East Kilbride Arts Centre, Old Coach Road, East Kilbride. G74 4DU. Tel: +44 (0)1355 261000. Three days, early March.
Traditional Storytelling Weekend, Banchory (Outside Aberdeen), Scotland. Weekend in April.
Glasgow Storyfest, Scotland. email@example.com
The Borders Storytelling Festival, Scotland. May/June. firstname.lastname@example.org
Shetland Storytelling Festival, Lerwick, Shetland Isles, off Scotland (a long way off!), four days, mid-September.
Orkney Storytelling Festival, Orkney Isles, off Scotland. Four days, mid-November. Contact +44 (0)1856 873629 (ves), or Bob Pegg, The Bungalow, Ardival, Strathpeffer, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland IV14 9DS. Phone/fax: +44 (0)1997 421186. E-mail: email@example.com
The Bleddfa Centre, The Old School Gallery, Bleddfa, Knighton, Powys LD7 1PA, Wales. Tel. +44 (0)1547 550377. Fax 44 (0)1547 550370. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.bleddfacentre.com A superb week long course during August for all levels, developing skills and confidence in a small group. Daytime workshops and evening ceilidhs. Top teachers from Britain. Self-contained arts centre, barns and orchard in peaceful rolling hills of the Welsh Marches. Cost GBP250 in 1999, plus camping or accommodation.
Cape Clear Island, County Cork, Ireland. Contact: Chuck Kruger, Glen West, Cape Clear Island, County Cork, Ireland. Tel/Fax +353 (0)28 39157. Email: email@example.com . Web: http://indigo.ie/~ckstory/ . A weekend workshop for all in late October, around a theme such as finding your personal style. Also, a week long storyteller's retreat in March/April for those who perform in public, and festival organisers.
School of Storytelling at Emerson College offers a full year programme of events for both beginners and seasoned tellers on the art of storytelling including weekend and week-long workshops and a 3 month residential training. Also offers two part-time accredited courses in collaboration with the University of Sussex. Contact Emerson College, Forest Row, East Sussex RH18 5JK, England. +44 (0)1342 822238, fax +44 (0)1342 826055. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.emerson.org.uk
The Unicorn School of Storytelling, 2 Fernleigh Villas, Old Bristol Road, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, GL6 0LQ. Tel. +44 (0)1453 836554 runs three very comprehensive part-time courses over 30 weeks each, for anyone wishing to find out about storytelling or develop their skills.
The Centre for the Research and Development of Traditional Storytelling, The Mantler's Yard, Marley Bank, Whitbourne, Worcs. WR6 5RU, England. Tel. +44 (0)1886 821576. Weekend courses, open to all, regularly through the year. Some are experimental, others offer practical skill development. Also a structured, selective course over 12 months for those with some experience. This new centre is run by Ben Haggarty.
The Northern School of Writing, Bretton Hall, West Bretton, Wakefield, W. Yorkshire, WF4 4LG, England. Tel. +44 (0)1924 836261. Courses over several weeks to develop storytelling skills.
Tim Sheppard runs occasional Wild Weekends in Bristol, England wherever he's asked, on Storytelling and Improvisation. Designed to enable everyone to discover or stretch their creativity, communication, playing and storytelling skills. Equally suitable for total beginner or professional. Practical, theoretical, and hilarious. Email me at email@example.com for more details, or see http://www.timsheppard.co.uk/wildtimes/ . 4 Oakenhill Road, Brislington, Bristol BS4 4LR, England. Tel +44 (0)117 977-6354.
The Connaught Centre, Connaught Road, Hove, E. Sussex, BN3 3WP, England. Tel. +44 (0)1273 736491. Regularly hosts a variety of storytelling workshops to develop confidence and creativity.
Leicester University School of Education, N.A.T.E. Storytellers, School of Education, University Road, Leicester. Tel. +44 (0)1162 785826 or 523708. A variety of storytelling workshops throught the year, open to all.
The Rising Sun Centre, Whitley Road, Newcastle upn Tyne NE12 9SS, England. Tel +44 (0)191 266-7733. Fax +44(0)191 266-8455. Occasional weekend workshops, with a focus on the environment.
St Mary's Community Centre, 180 Eltham High Street, London SE9, England. Tel +44 (0)181 467-9183. Occasional courses called 'Storytelling in Hope' for beginners or developing skills.
Ty Newydd Centre, Llanystumdwy, Cricieth, Gwynedd LL52 0LW. Wales. Tel 01766 522811. Fax 01766 523095. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.academi.org (see top bar). Occasional weekend and week long storytelling courses/retreats open to all. This 16th century house is a residential writer's centre in its own landscaped grounds with spectacular views of sea and mountains. Bursaries may be available.
The Verbal Arts Centre, Cathedral School Building, London Street, Derry BT48 6RQ, Northern Ireland. Tel. 01504 266946. Fax 01504 263368. A variety of day long and weekend courses throughout the year, organised to meet the needs of specific groups.
Cae Mabon, Muriau Gwynion, Fachwen, Llanberis, Gwynedd, LL55 3HB, North Wales. Tel/Fax +44 (0)1286 871512. Email Eric Maddern: email@example.com. Web: http://www.fachwen.org/caemabon. A variety of courses up to several days. Simple accommodation in barn or tents and an amazing stone and thatch roundhouse with central fire, modelled on pre-Roman dwellings, and set in forest by mountain and lake.
Elan Valley, mid-Wales/Cardiff, south Wales. Contact Richard Berry, 5 Ovington Terrace, Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1GF, Wales. Tel. +44 (0)1222 229009. Autumn weekend storytelling workshops.
The Scottish Storytelling Centre, The Netherbow Art Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR, Scotland. Tel. +44 (0)131 557 5724 or +44 (0)131 556 2647. http://www.storytellingcentre.org.uk/ssc/index.html A large variety of day schools, and two evening courses: Storytelling in Scotland, Oral Storytelling Today.
See also the diary provided by The Society for Storytelling, http://www.sfs.org.uk
Business of Storytelling workshop, all day version of a short workshop also run at storytelling festivals. Call (508) 655-2442 or e-mail Steve Rosenthal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(see NSN's Calendar of Storytelling Events at http://www.storynet.org/Calendar/CALENDAR.HTM for many more)
The huge National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, which predates the National Storytelling Network (NSN, previously NSA and NAPPS) and created it, has been around since 1973. The festival is now divorced from NSN. Every year, on the first full weekend in October, there is also NSN's National Storytelling Conference co-sponsored by the local storyguilds, at which storytellers learn new skills, hone their old ones, and network. More information about this and other festivals around the country, and much other national information, can be found at http://www.storynet.org .
Tellabration, An Evening of Storytelling for Adults, is organised locally all over the US, Japan, Canada, and several other countries. NSN serves as a facilitator to producers and a clearinghouse for information. NSA also publicizes Tellabration events worldwide. Happens on the Saturday before American Thanksgiving Day, November. Originally a fundraiser for NSN in 1988, now money raised from tellabrations goes to NSN and non-profit storytelling organizations world wide. Any local story groups, schools, libraries, colleges, museums, performing-arts centres etc. can get the information pack and organise their own event. See http://members.aol.com/tellabrate for more info.
Texas Storytelling Festival, four days in March, at Civic Center Park, Denton. Founded 1985. Tejas Storytelling Assn, PO Box 2806 Denton TX 76202. Phone (940) 380-9320 Email: email@example.com Web: http://www.tejasstorytelling.com/festival/
There are several annual festivals in California. The Flying Leap Storytelling Festival is in the Santa Ynez Valley (Solvang, Los Olivos area, north of Santa Barbara) in February. The San Juan Capistrano Festival ("Once Upon a Story") is in mid-October. There's a festival in the Bay Area (El Sobrante, north of Berkeley) in early May. Mariposa Storytelling Festival, near Yosemite and Sierra Storytelling Festival in Nevada City - one of these is in mid-July, inevitably the weekend after the NSA conference. The Southern California Story Swapping Festival is designed to encourage everyone to tell: small group swaps, a one minute story swap, reports from all groups in the region, workshops (some years) and a concert. Around mid-May and the location moves each year. See http://www.cinenet.net/~mhnadel/story/socalgroups.html for south California story swap meetings.
O.O.P.S! (the Ohio Order for the Preservation of Storytelling) holds an annual 3-day spring conference -- usually the first weekend in May -- in Chesterville, Ohio. We have social events (lots of great food), entertainment, swaps, an olio, workshops, a concert, telling in local churches and schools, and lots of camaraderie. Call Co-Chairs, Kay and Denny Flowers at (330) 887-5482 or Chris King, President, P.O. Box 221255 Beachwood, Ohio 44122, or Tel. (216) 991-8428. Email CKingKeys@aol.com
The League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling (L.A.N.E.S) has an annual conference, "Sharing The Fire", on a March weekend, offering 50 workshops, discussion groups, Master Coaching. http://www.lanes.org.
California Indian Storytelling Symposium and Festival, early November weekend. Ohlone Community College 43600 Mission Blvd. Fremont, CA. For information call (510) 651-6414 or (510) 794-7253. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.cistory.org/festival. Featuring elders and other cultural tribal tradition bearers sharing their stories and songs for all people. Workshops, panel discussions and scholars' presentations.
Yukon International Storytelling Festival, first weekend in June, long established. The largest Storytelling Festival in Canada and the only one that is truly international. Also features a lot of First Nations (indigenous) performers. The organisation publishes a newsletter, maintains an audio archives, and a directory of northern tellers. Email: email@example.com Web: www.yukonweb.com/special/storytelling/
Ottawa Storytelling Festival, 2 days, second weekend in November, first if Remembrance Day (Nov. 11) is on the weekend. Information: E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Tara Hartley email@example.com, Tel.(613) 567-1774. Storytellers from Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Kingston. Pass for all events costs around $15.00. Workshops for adults, concert, children's story-swap. Concessions for low-income people. Known for its friendliness; unpaid tellers come anyway because are made to feel so welcome.
"Storytelling Through the Ages", first 3 months of the year. Sunday evening 7:00 - 9:00, Rasputin's 696 Bronson Ave., Ottawa. Co-sponsored with Rasputin's and Multicultural Arts for Schools and Communities (MASC) Contact MASC (613)725-9119 or Tara Hartley. January usually offers parts of the Odyssey, and Feb. & March are other epics or myths with historical connections, such as Beowulf, Monkey King, Norse Mythology, First Nations stories.
In Quebec, the Musee de la Civilisation is quite active in French-language storytelling with a lot of activities, such as the annual storytelling festival in the autumn. For more information contact: Dominique Renaud, Musee de la Civilisation, Ville de Quebec, Quebec, Canada. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org The Museum has a web site: http://www.mcq.org/
Toronto Festival of Storytelling, weekend in mid-February, plus a preceding week of events around the city. Tel. Canada 416-656-2445 Email: email@example.com. Web: www.storytellingtoronto.org.
Vancouver Storytelling Festival, June, the weekend before the closest to summer solstice. Contact Vancouver Society of Storytelling, 13-2414 Main Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada V5T 3E3. Tel (604) 876-2272, fax (604) 228-1274. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fort Edmonton Storytelling Festival, Edmonton, Alberta, early September.
Storyfest, Fredericton, New Brunswick, mid-February. Contact Brockville Public Library 613-342-3936.
North Bay Storytelling Festival, presented by The Storytellers of the Near-North, North Bay, Ontario, late July
London Storytelling Festival, London, Ontario, mid-late October
Toronto Jewish Storytelling Festival, North York, Ontario
Storytellers School of Toronto, 791 St. Claire Ave. W., 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M6C 1B7 Canada. Tel. 416-656-8510. Offers a full calendar of courses for all levels of storytellers, sponsors the annual festival in Toronto, publishes a journal titled Appleseed Quarterly, a newsletter titled Pippin and supports storytelling projects. Tellers have come from all over the world to participate. Courses are updated regularly. Write for the current course brochure.
Australian National Festival of Story - southwest Australia - Sydney or Canberra, late September to mid-October. Australian Storytelling Guild (NSW) Inc. New Web Page: http://www.home.aone.net.au/stories Email: email@example.com P.O. Box 76, Pendle Hill, Sydney NSW 2145 AUSTRALIA
AnnualJanuary festival in Aguimes, Gran Canaria www.festivaldelsur.com/narracion.html
International Congress of Oral Storytelling, an event held since 1995 as part of the annual Buenos Aires Book Fair. in 2001 over 800 people attended from Argentina and neighbouring countries.
Festival de Narración Oral de Bucaramanga is held annually.
Nusantara Storytelling Week - co-ordinated by Rumah Dongeng Indonesia, mid-October for 8 days, in Jakarta. Incorporates the Indonesia Storytelling Festival, with Mask storytelling, Children's Theater, Stories from Indonesia, and guests from Australia and Japan; the Creativity Garden - Camping with storytelling activities, Art Appreciation (competition in drawing pictures for storytelling, story synopsis, theater & music appreciation), Traditional games; Storytelling Workshops and Seminar.
Iran’s 3-day International Storytelling Festival has happened annually since 1998, in Tabriz, Azerbaijan, organized by Iran's Institute for Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (IIDCYA), to promote the culture of storytelling among families and for the Iranian and foreign storytellers to exchange experiences. Around forty Iranian storytellers and ten foreign participants compete for various prizes. The Iranian participants are required to tell stories on Persian heroes as well as anecdotes extracted from classic literary texts. Celebrated Iranian storytellers include Asadullah Shokrane, Ali Khanjani and Hamid Navaei Lavasani.
Asian Congress of Storytellers - two days in mid-November. English language event with keynote speakers and twenty workshops from Asian and international storytellers. Followed by a Storytellers Showcase. http://www.nbdcs.org.sg/acs.htm. Contact Sheila Wee at the Asian Storytelling Network: firstname.lastname@example.org
Berättar Festival, five days long in mid June. Held since 1990, features 50 tellers, artists, teachers, writers, researchers. Performers from all over the world. Contact Berättar Festival, Norra Järnvägsgatan, 13, 341 37 Ljungby, Sweden. (If any of the above letters get garbled by computer translation, they will be "a" topped by two dots.)
Apart from membership magazines from organisations (see above), there are also:
Facts & Fiction: another good storytelling mag, published quarterly. Contents: news and what's on; reviews; a feature story and several short ones; and a variety of articles about all aspects of storytelling, background to a story; related traditions etc. Single copy: £2.50 in the UK, £2.75 in the EU, £3.50 elsewhere. Yearly subscription: £10 in the UK, £11 within the EU, £15 elsewhere, payable to Facts and Fiction. Edited by Pete Castle, Facts & Fiction, 190 Burton Rd, Derby, DE1 1TQ, England. e-mail: email@example.com, Tel. +44 (0)1332 346399. Or you can subscribe very conveniently with any currency or credit card online at http://www.firstwriter.com/store/magazines/factsfiction.htm .
The Mouth: Newsletter for storytellers in the South-West of England. Local news, courses and events. Wendy is very active in the Society for Storytellers and is keen to make contact, canvassing views, initiatives and involvement from everyone interested, not just professionals. 4 issues for GBP 10.00. Cheque to Wendy Dacre, 27 Essington, North Tawton, Devon EX20 2DS, England. Tel.+44 (0)837 82719
Storytelling World is produced by the Storytelling Program at East Tennessee State University. (Note - this has now merged with Storytelling magazine produced by the National Storytelling Network, USA.) This highly recommended journal publishes tellable stories, articles about the techniques of telling, and interviews with tellers. The editor is Dr. Flora Joy. Subscriptions within USA are $8.95/1 yr.; $16.95/2 yrs.; & provide 2 issues per year. Back issues are available, and the entire past tables of contents are online at www.etsu.edu/stories. Contact Dr. Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org or ETSU, Box 70647, Johnson City, TN 37614-0647, USA.
The Texas Teller edited by Peggy Helmich-Richardson, Tel. 972-271-8356, USA
Works In Progress. Subscriptions are $6 a year (two issues). Send to StorySwap, PO Box 90161, Pittsburgh, PA 15224, USA. Interviews, articles with practical professional advice, reviews of tapes and books, etc. Welcomes article submissions - send to the same address, or e-mail to AlanIrvine@aol.com
Parabola - a journal of myth and tradition. Very well known. Anyone care to provide a description relevant to storytellers? Web: http://www.parabola.org/
Stories, edited by Katy Rydell, 12600 Woodbine St., Los Angeles, CA 90066, USA. $15/year.
Story Bag: A National Storytelling Newsletter edited by Harlynne Geisler, 5361 Javier St. San Diego, CA 92117 USA. Bimonthly, 8 pages. $20/year for US or international, or $25 for airmail. Contact email@example.com or see http://www.swiftsite.com/storyteller/instbag.htm. Contents: story texts, reviews of books and tapes, practical information on how to tell, listing of storytelling events in the U.S., Canada, & the rest of the world, bibliographies of books and/or tapes, advice on how to be a professional performer, storytelling activities to conduct in schools, answers to readers' questions.
Tale Trader. One of the best, read by a lot of people. Published by International Order of E.A.R.S., Inc., edited by Lee Pennington. EARS is another national storytellers organization, HQ in Kentucky. Address is 12019 Donohue Ave., Louisville, KY 40243, USA. TT is a quarterly tabloid, around 24 pages, with color. News of the Storytelling world, plus reviews of tellers, tapes, books, and festivals; letters, calendar of events nationwide (and even a few extraterritorial ones), interviews with tellers, ads for tellers and for resources, a crossword puzzle, "Jack Tales" comic strip, and at least one tellable story per issue, sometimes several. They have State and International correspondents, including in England and Ireland. EARS membership (including discounts on their long list of resources & events) is $20 individual, $30 family, or $15 for just a sub, $5 extra for foreign.
Appleseed Quarterly - The Canadian Journal of Storytelling: Published quarterly since 1991, each issue (of 20+ pages) focuses on a theme and features an interview with a Canadian storyteller, a story to tell, and articles written by tellers, book reviews, and news from the national organization (Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada) and, of course, letters to the Editor. Friendly and approachable style. Mainly in English, with some French. Subscription rates are Can$25.00 per year, or free to members of SC/CC and the Storytellers School of Toronto. Send to Appleseed Quarterly c/o Storytellers School of Toronto, 43 Queen's Park Circle, Toronto, Ontario CANADA, M5S 2C3. Tel.Canada 416-656-2445. Email Editor Brian Hetherington: firstname.lastname@example.org. Although allied to the Toronto school, this is not a newsletter - the school's newsletter is Pippin, and very lively.
Maerchenspiegel: a quarterly German-language journal for international research and the encouragement of fairytales. The emphasis is academic rather than practical, therefore little related to performance, but of considerable interest. Articles often mirror threads we have had on Storytell. E.g. dwarfs in European tales, another on H.C. Andersen, separating the myth of the man from social context of his time, and the Maerchen-yurt in Mongolia - a union of scouts and storytelling. It has very short English summaries of the articles. Cost: annual subscription is DM 30 (currently around £10); postage abroad is DM 6; Individual issues cost DM 9. Editor is Dr. Sabine Wienker-Piepho. Address: Silberbachstr. 17, D-79100 Freiburg, Germany. Tel. + 49 761 701 643. Fax: + 49 761 707 7379.
Op Verhaal Komen: edited by Jan Swagerman is a storytelling magazine in Dutch. Contact: Postbox 2265, NL 3500 GG Utrecht, The Netherlands. Phone/Fax: +3171 5620295 Email: email@example.com Web http://www.euronet.nl/users/smd_jswa/
Swag of Yarns, Australia's National Storytelling Magazine. Quarterly publication of stories, interviews, Australian folklore, reviews and resources. 32 pages with two colour glossy cover. Available by subscription $30.00 (Australian) for subscribers within Australia and $35.00 for overseas subscribers. Editor: Peter Dargin. Contact info for previous editor June Barnes: PO Box 235, Albert Park, Victoria, 3206 Australia. Ph/Fax: 61 3 9690 0894. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Intelligent, substantial, and with some articles by overseas writers, this magazine is of interest to all tellers, not just Australian.
All of these, in no particular order, have featured in various people's top ten. This isn't an authoritative list, and is only meant to point you to some tellers who may inspire, or demonstrate excellence. If your favourite teller doesn't appear, let me know, and let's have some names from other countries too.
USA: Jackie Torrence, The Folktellers, Donald Davis, Jay O'Callahan, Jeannine Laverity, Joseph Bruchac, Gayle Ross, Doug Lipman, Laura Simms, Mary Carter Smith, Jim Weiss, Ray Hicks, Elizabeth Ellis Dan Keding, Charlotte Blake Alston, Jim May, Ed Stivender & Heather Forest, Carol Birch, Peter Cook, Roslyn Bresnick-Perry, Len Cabral, Syd Lieberman, Barbara McBride-Smith, David Novak, John Spelman, Bobby Norfolk, Dovey Thomason
UK: Robin Williamson, Taffy Thomas, Hugh Lupton, Ben Haggarty, Duncan Williamson, Daniel Morden, Pomme Clayton, TUUP, Jan Blake, Stanley Robertson.
Canada: Michel Faubert, Alice Kane (now retired), Joan Bodger, Lorne Brown, Bob Barton, Rita Cox, Alec Gelcer, Celia Lottridge, Lynda Howes, Marylyn Perringer, Leslie Robbins, Carol McGirr, Roz Cohen, Gail de Vos, Dan Yashinsky
France: Abbi Patrix, Muriel Bloch
Sweden: Ulf Arnström
Ireland: Eamonn Kelly, Eddie Lenihan, Pat Speight, Liz Weir, Jack Lynch, Batt Burns, Nuala Hayes, Aideen Sheehan
There are many books available, covering various needs: learning to tell, teaching others - kids or adults, using storytelling in education or therapy, sound practices for the professional, and of course the stories themselves. Below you'll find just a few, and not necessarily all of the best ones. I hope to include some more comprehensive booklists soon. Meanwhile, to ask for books on specific topics join the Storytell mailing list (see above).
Don't underestimate your level of ability, though. You can be totally inexperienced and still be good at telling stories. Shyness and other rough edges will rub off fairly quickly, once you've faced just a handful of even small, informal audiences. And you'll be surprised just how captivating storytelling is - you're unlikely to disappoint even an adult audience at your first show, since many have forgotten the power and delight of stories and will praise you highly rather than look to criticise. Books can help, but not as much as feedback from a real audience.
Two books worth their weight in gold for a prospective professional storyteller are:
"The Storyteller's Start-up Book," by Margaret Read MacDonald
"The Storyteller's Guide," by Bill Mooney and David Holt both published by August House.
The latter has the contributions of 50 professional storytellers, etc on all sorts of questions including getting started, developing venues, and the business side of telling. Very impressive. Includes as good a discussion about the ethics of storytelling, borrowing threads, themes, and whole tales, copyright, etc. as you'll find in one place.
"Storytelling Activities," by Norma Livo.
Teachers may like the informative appendix which breaks down stories and their activities into Piaget developmental steps.
"Storytelling Process and Practice," by Norma Livo
The new "bible" for anyone going into telling. Everything from storymapping, learning stories, syllabi for a course, how to set up an event, etc. a wonderful book.
"The Way of the Storyteller," Ruth Sawyer
The old "bible"! This eloquently describes the real spirit of storytelling and the qualities to aspire to in order to excel. Read this and you'll be inspired to become a good storyteller!
"The Art of the Story-Teller," Marie Shedlock. New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1917
The whole text of this classic how-to guide is now available online at http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/shedlock/story/story.html.
"Storytelling Professionally; The Nuts and Bolts of a Working Performer," Harlynne Geisler. Libraries Unlimited Press.
Recommended by many professionals. Harlynne is editor of The Story Bag; A National Storytelling Newsletter. E-mail: email@example.com . Web: www.swiftsite.com/storyteller . The book can be ordered from the website, but if you are outside the USA, you can only order from the publisher: www.lu.com
"How to Make Money Performing in Schools," David Heflick.
Recommended by many professionals. Don't be put off by the title, there is lots of practical advice appropriate to storytellers, and the business side is useful even to those not working in schools. Covers all areas of managing one's business. The schools advice is specific to the USA, but the principles are applicable elsewhere. Available from Silcox Productions, Box 1407 - Orient WA - 99160, USA. Tel. (509)-684-8287 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.storyteller.net/tellers/dave_cindy/
"Storytellers' Research Guide," by Judy Sierra. Folkprint 1996, but now out of print. Was $15. PO Box 450, Eugene, Oregon 97440, USA. Try searching www.abebooks.com for a secondhand copy.
A must for serious storytellers, a helpful guide to oral traditional tales; more than 300 reference books, tale collections, periodicals, electronic and online resources listed. Includes research basics, what makes a tellable tale, tracking down tales, fieldwork, and copyright for storytellers etc.
This section is for gathering a general impression of storytelling in each country. E.g. Is there a revival happening? Was there ever a decline? Are there many professionals working? What status does storytelling have in the culture? What kind of stories are told? If you are from or have visited a country not mentioned here, and have any information or impressions on the state of storytelling there, contact me, Tim Sheppard, at email@example.com or see the contact info at the beginning, and help storytellers gain a worldwide perspective on our art. See the other sections for more specific info on organisations etc. This section will be expanded soon, sooner if you send something in.
Storytelling has always been a fundamental part of all oral cultures, and many countries in Africa still have a connection, though often weakening, to their oral traditions. Storytelling still thrives in parts of West Africa such as Guinea and Burkina Faso. Sierra Leonian storyteller Usifu Jalloh reports (2014) that he is the only storyteller who still performs in Sierra Leone.
In Australia oral storytelling has been been a part of the Australian Aboriginal culture since the Dreaming (the beginning of time). Aboriginal people still cherish the responsibility of passing on the stories. The influence of the convicts and settlers of the British Isles can be seen in the stories of white Australia. Yarnspinning at the pub has long been a tradition. The 'bush poet' is still a popular entertainer. There is regular storytelling in schools, libraries, fairy shops, churches and at various festivals. The Storytelling Guild of Australia Inc. has branches in each state and regular newsletters are published. The guilds actively promote storytelling in the community, holding seminars, workshops and state and national conferences.
Storytelling in China was once a major art form that rivaled opera and other performance genres. It still flourishes in Shanghai and Suzhou where the chantefable is a rich, local tradition and one of the most viable storytelling traditions in the world, with hundreds of active storytellers in the Yangzi delta region. Audiences sip tea in story houses while storytellers speak and sing stories accompanied by stringed instruments. The stories unfold week after week, usually revolving around a love intrigue. See the book Plum and Bamboo: China's Suzhou Chantefable Tradition for more.
Many countries in western Europe now have a storytelling revival, of varying size, and some have one or more festivals. There is little left of the old oral tradition in most places.
Very little public performance of (oral) storytelling in India, although storytelling in the home and among friends is common. However public performances of visual storytelling (puppetry and dance) is common. Unfortunately the informative website of current field research by Lee-Ellen Marvin of University of Pennsylvania has been taken down but I'm told it will be back.
In Indonesia, a country with 17,500 islands and 200 million people, storytelling is very much alive. Although storytelling as a profession only prospers in big cities, small cities have their share of activities. People enjoy traditional stories as well as imaginative modern stories. Subjects often discussed by Indonesian storytellers include: Preservation of traditional stories; How children and parents perceive storytelling; How to increase awareness that storytelling is not just an ancient tradition. As in the West, parents have no time for storytelling, but there is interest in storytelling as an educational transformation media at school; the philosophy of Bakaba and ethnic stories; storytelling and preservation of environmental values. It is still difficult to make storytelling one's sole income, thus many people make storytelling their second job. However, they are very serious in professional development.
There is in Italy an old tradition of storytellers (Cantastorie), specially in the South (Sicily, Naples, Calabria, etc.) but it's disappearing. This decline is caused by the general decline of folk traditions: the use of dialect above all. Today the "Cantastorie" are a subject of study for ethnologists and folklorists. But there is a great number of theatrical companies, actors, musicians that are studying the old repertoires for their performances including stories from Italian tradition ("Fiabe Italiane" collected by Italo Calvino or "Il Cunto de li Cunti" by Giambattista Basile.)
This FAQ is maintained by Tim Sheppard. If you have any questions about storytelling and don't know who to ask, email Tim. Also feel free to send web links, corrections, additions, answers, suggestions etc.
This FAQ may be distributed freely, but not for profit, providing it retains all personal credits. You have permission to copy sections of this FAQ only if they remain unaltered, and you include the beginning and ending (this) credit sections. You are welcome to make web links to this FAQ - please call it " The Storytelling FAQ, maintained by Tim Sheppard." Copyright remains with the editor and authors. See www.timsheppard.co.uk/story/ for the latest version - or write to Tim at the address at the beginning.
The frame story was written by Mitchell J. Gross: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to contributors: Shari Lynn Kochman email@example.com; Janet Glantz firstname.lastname@example.org; Kate Dudding email@example.com; Nancy Howland firstname.lastname@example.org; Randel McGee email@example.com; Barry McWilliams firstname.lastname@example.org; Barbara McIntyre email@example.com; Ingrid Buck firstname.lastname@example.org; Bonnie email@example.com; Herrick Jeffers HerrickSTR@aol.com; Chuck Larkin Mythteller@aol.com; Judy Schmidt FransDotir@aol.com; Bonnie firstname.lastname@example.org; Lois Sprengnether email@example.com; Tara Hartley firstname.lastname@example.org; Miriam Nadel email@example.com; Bob Stpeddler@aol.com; Papa Joe firstname.lastname@example.org; Rebecca Cohen email@example.com; Roger Armstrong firstname.lastname@example.org; Granny Sue email@example.com; Beate E. Larsen firstname.lastname@example.org; Owen OwenKL@aol.com; Barra Jacob-McDowell email@example.com; David Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org; Meryl Arbing email@example.com; Amanda Katili-Niode firstname.lastname@example.org; Wren email@example.com; Lynn firstname.lastname@example.org; Lorna Czarnota LCzarnota@aol.com; Barry Patterson email@example.com; Tim Jennings firstname.lastname@example.org; Bob Shimer StoryVent@worldnet.att.net; Joi Cardinal email@example.com; Richard Martin RMartin49@aol.com; Doug Lipman firstname.lastname@example.org; Margaret M. Sheehan email@example.com; Hope Baugh firstname.lastname@example.org; Richard Marsh email@example.com; Mario Villani firstname.lastname@example.org; Doc Moore docmoore@GVTC.COM; Audrey Kopp email@example.com; Derek Johnson firstname.lastname@example.org; Anne Tayler email@example.com; Mabel Kaplan firstname.lastname@example.org; Suzi Shaeffer StoryHatS@aol.com; June Barnes email@example.com; Ralph Edward Chadis firstname.lastname@example.org; marilyn kinsella markinsella19@HOTMAIL.COM; Janet Dowling www.JanetTellsStories.co.uk ;
The seeker handed the list back gingerly and it disappeared into the folds of Mr. Faq's cloak.
Mr. Faq smiled at him and said, "You have sought knowledge and gained it. May it serve you well.
"Welcome newcomer. May all your stories touch the heart."
The smoke from Mr. Faq's pipe grew until it filled the cave. The seeker coughed, but before the smoke became unbearable, it slowly faded away. The seeker looked around, yet Mr. Faq was nowhere to be seen.
The seeker turned and walked out of the cave. In the distance, he could see the flickering light of a campfire and the evening breeze carried the voices of the storytellers gathered there. Hurriedly, he made his way to join them...