The key to being a great storyteller is being responsive.
Responding to a particular audience, in a particular place and time. Finding the right story for the right moment is the storytellers art, utilising a diverse repertoire of tales and astute social sensitivity.
Performances are bespoke, depending on audience, environment, season etc. This is where the magic happens and each occasion is vivid, live and dynamic.
As such, many storytelling performances are unique and varied, although certain themes are common, and when creating story ‘shows’ for theatre a more definite story set will be chosen with a narrative arc weaving through the collection of tales.
Some common themes in community performances are nature, climate change, and the environment, and Scottish lore, history and culture. Seasonally appropriate tales are popular, as are stories that prompt dialogue around certain social themes and issues.
I like a mix of humour, mystery, supernatural, rawness and depth in the tales I tell, and appreciate the ability of a folk tale to connect us with older, indigenous cultures that sought to maintain balance between the human and non human worlds.
At storytelling festivals and international events I deliver storytelling shows crafted around a particular theme or narrative arc.
In 2022 my primary show, Animate Lands, was commissioned to be a part of the Scottish International Storytelling festival. The show was an exploration into the relationship between landscape and story and sought to bring a physicality to the old Fianna tales. I worked in collaboration with a landscape painter and musician on this piece and after our sold out show, festival director Donald Smith shared these words:
‘Journey into Animate Lands to experience a fresh and joyful take on Celtic lore and Scotland’s landscape. Meet with Finn, Ossian, Grainne and Diarmaid, as today’s storytellers and artists take up their tales in the original locations, which are evoked in real time artwork and music.
It’s an audience pleaser with authenticity graced by light touch and honest humour. Animate Lands was commissioned for the 2022 Storytelling Festival in Scotland’s Year of Stories, but it is a storytelling classic that will go on giving to new audiences.Donald Smith, Director, Scottish International Storytelling Festival
In both 2018 and 2019 I performed extended runs of two solo shows “Supernatural” and “Witches, Wee Folk and Watery Beasties”, each showcasing the richness of Scottish lore and story and selling out for most of the run.
My other solo show, “Tales from the Wild Edge” is a show about rewinding and “Tales from the magic Drum” is a rhythmical story journey aimed at a younger audience.
Other collaborations with other storytellers and musicians have explored themes such as kinship and migration.
As well as storytelling performance, I occasionally get invited to offer a keynote speech on the use of storytelling in learning, development, health, climate change or enterprise. These presentations have been commissioned by organisations such as the RSPB, Scottish Government, NHS, Outdoor Woodland Learning Scotland, Sustainablility Scotland, and the British Consulate in Vilnius, Lithuania.