Wednesday, 17 August 2016

What knowledge are we creating when we tell and retell stories?

I am delighted to report that my first academic paper on storytelling (with Prof Matthew Reason) has now been published online, and will come out in Research in Drama Education in November.

A limited number of free e-copies can be had at this link:

Storytelling, Story-retelling, Storyknowing: Towards a Participatory Practice of Storytelling
This paper presents a practice-led research project that investigates how people from diverse community and school groups understand and respond to oral storytelling. Run in collaboration with York Theatre Royal, the project uses art form workshops (drama, music, fine art) to actively invite participants to make the transition from listeners to storytellers. This paper places these workshops within a theoretical framework that draws upon understandings of storytelling developed by Benjamin, Bruner, Kearney and Wilson.  We argue: 1) that through the process of (re)telling participants demonstrate a particular kind of embedded knowledge that we have termed ‘storyknowing’; and 2) that inhabiting a story in this open-ended way has intrinsic value.  We present a typology of strategies for retelling adopted by the participants and reflect on our development of a participatory practice of storytelling.
Key words
Storytelling, narrative, participatory practice, narrative knowing.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

If you couldn't be at 'Storyknowing'....

The next best thing is to watch the short film we have made to share its learnings. 

'Storyknowing' was a festival and symposium of storytelling and theatre with young people.  It was in itself an act of practice research that aimed to connect many perspectives.  Thus it brought together practitioners, researchers and teenagers all interested in the artform of storytelling by, with and for the adolescent age group.  It brought together performance, applied practice and research.  It brought together arts practice, mental health, education and social work, and the area of expertise that we might call 'being adolescent in 2016'. 

Thus it is only logical that we disseminate our findings in a way that is vibrant, accessible and relevant to all these audiences.  We hope this 13-minute film does this and are very keen to hear your thoughts!  Contact me, as ever, via

Thanks to producers Ed Sunman of Freshlabel Ltd and A-level student filmmaker Maddie Drury for their excellent work on this film. 

For more information about 'Storyknowing' see here.

Monday, 25 January 2016

'Storyknowing' symposium now open for bookings!

Can a symposium on research be a kind of research itself? Can it bring together in dialogue all the different kinds of experts in storytelling with young people - that is, storytellers and practitioners, researchers, teachers, professionals and of course young people themselves?  And can it actually 'publish' its findings in a way that contributes to a much bigger dialogue?  In April we will find out, at 'Storyknowing: A Festival and Symposium of Storytelling and Theatre with Young People'.

So far the indications are promising.  As well as a 'call for papers', we took the unusual step of issuing a 'call for workshops' - asking facilitators to think their way around the issues at the interface between adolescents and storytelling, and make proposals.  We received almost 40 interesting, extremely diverse and carefully thought-through proposals.  Reading them through as a body seemed like the first step in the dialogue - it revealed that there is a deep seam of practice in storytelling with this age group, but that it is diffused across many disciplines and sectors.  Nonetheless it started to raise common issues and questions.  A full list of the workshop leaders we selected is here.

The Call for Papers is also up there - the deadline's not til Sunday 31st so get writing...!

Over two days (Fri 22nd and Sat 23rd April) we will see storytelling performances (e.g. from the young Indian dancers pictured above), host workshops across a wide range of disciplines and panels of research papers with facilitated discussion.  It's a delicate balancing act between 'what story knows' and 'what we know about story'.  Thus the whole event will be transformed into a short documentary by young filmmaker Maddie Drury, working under the mentorship of Ed Sunman.

Do get in touch to find out more ( or check out the event page.