News and Events

What is a Zoomeller ?

In these challenging times what does a Storyteller do ?

Well as a storyteller of Folk, Fairy tales and Myths, I have a compulsion to tell them. However I never expected to Zoom tell them, or Zoom hear them, a  “Zoomeller” of tales (my new word) if you will. As many turn to their phones, tablets, and computers to consume art, to learn, to fill the void. I have wrestled with the situation.  I personally need to see live faces in front of me. I need eye to eye, heart to heart connection in a live moment, to really bring the stories to ‘life’ otherwise they are merely stories. Now there is nothing wrong with mere stories, I mean, I need them all the time. I love them. However the world of spoken aloud, Folk, Fairy tales and Myths, is very different. Not just for the teller, but also for the listener. Truly live storytelling when people gather together in a real space, not a virtual space is a very different experience. We know this from the feedback of listeners and from us storytellers also being, story listeners ourselves.

Back to being a ‘zoomeller’ of tales, I was and am struggling with it all. Until I recently heard and read articles about Zooming (other platforms are available) and how stories over the Internet, are very different to live or even radio stories, (this includes conversations and meetings etc). Audio and language specialists point out that listening online is fatiguing, as a result of more metallic sounding voices, the subtle time lapses of a millisecond, the zoom gaze, looking this way or that. The family life going in in the background, unless the ‘mute’ button is pressed on. Although this still leaves the visual life. All this and more, contribute to the brain having to work much harder, to hear, to listen, to absorb, meaning that it is harder to relax. All this is going on as more people are consuming more Online content.

So what  do I do?

Well I remember being told once that;  ‘Less is more’. This simple message has helped me a lot. To avoid digital burn out, or from getting Zoomalitus. So I am simply listening to less and telling less. The quality of what I am listening too, has increased and I now have more time to let the stories that I tell, speak to me of their deeper secrets. So that when live performing comes back, my stories will be invigorated.

Simply put, ‘less is more’.

Letting the Light In

While most of us are locked down, sitting out the ongoing Pandemic, I am sure that for moments, or even longer,  we have felt or looked, a little like the nature spirit above.  We may be currently feeling a little wretched, beaten up, like we are falling apart. Or perhaps a little unkempt, left in a field, for the wind to blow through us, pulling at our hair, ripping our clothes to shreds. Our minds and emotions, pulled and pushed, to the four corners of the earth and back.  But look closer at her, look through the holes, the gaps, you will see nature is still blooming, crops are still growing, birds are still singing. . Her apparent frail structure, is stronger than it looks, for it withstands the blowing wind  along which, the scent of spring comes, she pauses……. breaths it in……. all,.. will be well. Rainy days soak her feet, quickly forgotten, as brightly painted birds land on her twiggy arms, singing sweet songs, into her ear. Songs of the land, songs of  journeys, across mountains, across the sea, deserts and lush green valleys. She listens to their song……. and is soothed.  Her gown is bejewelled with bright insects, it shines, it sparkles, it hums with life. Look even closer at those tattered holes in her clothes, for this is where the sunlight shines through. This mythic nature guardian, is looking over us, showing us, speaking her truth. That nature both gives and takes, that we need the holes, to let the light in.

World Storytelling Cafe: A Virtual Experience

I am feeling most humbled to have been asked by the organisers of the World Storytelling Cafe, to join them, along with some other marvelous Oral Storytellers from around the world. In what I believe is the first (or one of the first) virtual gathering of Storytellers from far and wide, from Columbia to Ireland, from Scotland to the USA to Chelmsford, telling tales to sooth and relax you in these troubled times. I have already contributed a 45 minute set of 3 tales, for you to listen to whenever you wish. Suitable for all the family from 3 to 103 years of age.

Just visit the site or Facebook page; World Storytelling Cafe Community for further details.

Storytelling Workshops During Childrens Mental Health Awareness Week

During National Storytelling Week, I spent a full week in a school in Suffolk, working with  four seperate classes. I was commissioned by the wonderful Children’s Mental Health Charity, ‘FineNotFine’, to put together a week of Storytelling Workshops, incorporating the theme of ‘Find Your Brave’. As it was also National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week.  Here is some of the genuine feedback from several of the children. Its heartening to know that we truly made a meaningful connection with these children.

“I enjoyed Shane he was really funny. My favourite part was the Viking story”.

“My favourite part was wen Thor wor that dress”

“Everybody has brave in them and you find it at certain parts in your life. Some people don’t”.

“I enjoyed that wen Shane told the story and we could picture it in your head”.

“My favourite part was the donkey pewking out Pinoncita”

“I enjoyed the exciting art lessons we’ve had. My favourite part was where Shane came in and told us lots of stories”.

“I enjoyed Shane telling us the stories and the art. My favourite part was when we drawed the pictures and when we heard the stories”.

“I enjoyed doing the different activities. My favourite part was being there and listening to Shane who is very funny”.


National Storytelling Week

As National Storytelling Week, begins on 1st February, I have some news to share.

I was asked by The Society for Storytelling to contribute an audio recording of me telling one of my favourite stories for children, ‘Clay Pot Boy’. It has been put into a ‘free’ National School’s Pack. (300 packs have already been requested, contact   The packs are to aid teachers in introducing Oral Storytelling to children, along with explaining many of its proven benefits to children. I was also asked to contribute to a section in the pack on, “inclusive storytelling”. With tips and comments from my various experience’s of working with children in multiple settings over 24 years. With additional comments, from my experience of working with people with Learning Disabilities.

During National Storytelling Week itself, I will be Storytelling in a Suffolk school, all week. Working with a Children’s Mental Health Charity, ‘FineNotFine’. We will be using and working with a particular story all week, primarily to look at helping children access their inner strengths. To help build upon their inner resilience and confidence. Along with having a lot of fun.

In addition, later on in February on the 15th and 16th, during half term, I will be Storytelling at RHS Wisley again, telling stories all about the weather.

I will also be appearing for a second time on the 18th at ‘The Widgeon  Theatre Boat’ a unique theatre on a canal boat, moored in London. I will be telling stories in the daytime for children and than performing stories in the evening, for adults only.

I will also be at the Thenga Café, in London again  for the third time, on 27th, telling a story along with others,  to help raise money for the Children’s Refugee Charity DonateforRefugee’s.

I will also be in London again on Sunday 1st March, telling a story in Hackney, at an open event, where the stories are all about Witches and Witchcraft. (address 186 Hackney Road, E2 7QL).

Perhaps I might see you at one of these events.

Storytelling News; Quiet but Busy

A quiet month for performing/telling stories, however I have had time to work on some new stories.

I have also been working away in the background on several projects for this year.

I have been working with The Society for Storytelling, on their free schools pack. I contributed a recorded Oral Story for the pack, along with some advice for storytelling to children.  It is all part of a  free pack with lots of advice, recordings of other storytellers telling their favourite stories and various other resources for schools. It is designed to enhance the understanding of how Oral Storytelling develops children’s, verbal storytelling skills and narrative structures.  As well as their creative, imaginative brains and written storytelling skills. It  is designed to run alongside National Storytelling Week in February.

I was able to ‘birth’ a new story at the lovely Woodbridge Storytelling club, Tapas ‘n’ Tales, this month, as their special guest, I am grateful for it being well received.

I have also been working on two children’s Mental Health projects  and on an adult Mental Health storytelling  initiative. More on this later in the year.

I have also had a meeting related to the ‘Dying Matters’ initiative and how Oral Storytelling can help with the often taboo area of death and dying.

In addition I have been responding to several storytelling enquiries, some new and some from people and organisations that  I have previously worked with. So lots under wraps that I am working on. I will share things as they develop.

Perhaps I might see some of you at the Oral storytelling night that I run in Chelmsford , called ‘Tall Tales & Short Stories’. It is on this Sunday 26th January. You will find further details elsewhere on my website or on my Facebook page. Thank you Shane


The legacy of Storytelling

I had a truly wonderful experience this weekend. Sometimes we do not get to see how our work and our art affects others. However this weekend I had a chance to see just that, in one child. I was invited back to do some storytelling at the Alternative Education setting where I had previously been working. Part of my work there had been oral storytelling to the children. One child in particular, a 7 year old boy, really loved listening to the stories. Yesterday after I had finished telling a story to about 25 people from babies to Grandparents, the child in question, asked if he could tell a story, to the same audience. My immediate answer was “Yes, please do”. As I am always so keen for children to tell oral stories.

What followed was amazing. He confidently sat on the story tellers chair and told a story at length. He introduced the story and then began. He used so many of the storytellers skills in what he told. The storyline made complete sense, he added drama, character, he used contrasting images, he used movement in his body and in the narrative of place, voice change, humour, description, the rule of three’s in the narrative and he used the available space well. It was an amazing example of the passing on to someone so young, of much that I have learnt myself from actually telling the stories and also so much of what I have learnt from other story tellers.

Looking at this young boy, the ancient tradition of oral storytelling is in safe hands with him.

December News

December Storytelling News.

December: Winter has officially started.

7th; Winter Tales with Soup at Anke’s Café, Southend.
8th; Daytime Storytelling at Tipi Woods, Winter Gathering.
8th; Evening, I will be making a brief appearance as Abanazar, looking for his lamp, in a Mummers play in Leigh-on-Sea, St Peters Church.
12th; Fishermans Chapel, telling Winter Tales, as part of the Spinning Yarns Collective, Leigh-on-Sea.
14th; Essex Wildlife Trust, I will be performing Winter Tales, with Hannah Brailsford, amongst the trees of Belfairs Wood. Tickets may still be available, go to the Essex Wildlife Trust, Belfairs Wood site to see.
15th; Chelmsford’s very own Storytelling Club, ‘Tall Tales & Short Stories’, presents Winter Tales. It is also our clubs 3rd year anniversary. We have a very special guest storyteller in Baden Prince. Baden will be telling Caribbean Folk Tales and other stories. In addition there will also be tales from our regular tellers.
16th-21st; FREE Pop up storytelling, at ‘The Bearded Gypseys Trade Fayre’. During the week I will popping up in their shop in Bond Street, Chelmsford, to tell some winter folk and fairy tales.

There will be some news in the new year, of some very exciting projects for 2020.

Have a lovely peaceful Winter break, one and all.

November Storytelling News

After a very busy October, running from here to there, with lots of Halloween storytelling’s, I now have a quieter November.

Nov 9th; N22 Open Studios, Wood Green, London. Storytelling for children as part of an afternoon of children’s activities.
Nov 10th; N22 Open Studios, Wood Green, a second afternoon of storytelling with children.
Nov 15th; Big Hat Bushcamp, I will be running a day’s Bushcraft camp, with storytelling included.
Nov 22nd; A meeting to discuss and plan bringing Storytelling and Mental Health together. It is a Mental Health project, for teenagers in Suffolk. We will be looking at how Storytelling and ‘story making’ can help to manage and aid recovery, for young people with Mental Health difficulties.
Nov 30th ; Lyndhurst School, Southwark, London. Storytelling at the schools Winter Fare.

An Honest and Personal Story, of How I overcame My Fear of Singing in Public.

A Real Life Story; Of Overcoming My Fear of Singing in Public.

As a child of about 8 years old, I was very shy at school. However I loved Drama and singing. I can recall one morning while our class was singing, (we did a lot of that), the teacher was looking for children who could sing to join the new play. The teacher, whom I will refer to as Miss L, stopped the class and asked, “who’s is that awful voice”, no one answered. I wondered, looking around about, who it might be. Miss L, then asked us to continue the singing, she paced up and down, then stopped, looked and pointed at, me and said “Ibbs, it’s you with the awful voice”. Needless to say this put an end to my singing, it also knocked my confidence so much that I was never in another school play.
I then went to Upper School and did some Drama, but no public Play’s and I never sang. Throughout my younger adult life, I often wondered about going to singing lessons, but could never summon up the courage. About 10 years ago I actually went along to a modern Choir taster session, however, I left because of nerves, before any singing had even started. I then took up Oral Storytelling, I was initially very nervous to perform in front of others. However with two great supportive teachers and supportive colleagues, I told my first public story. We also did a few short songs as warm ups, which I managed, as I felt very held. However I was still not able to sing solo in public.

I made a big decision to go to a private singing teacher in Chelmsford, to face my fear. I was very nervous and scared, I didn’t need to be, my teacher Joanne Lee (Jo), listened to my story with great empathy. We began my first lesson. Jo made it a lot of fun, so between my nerves I found myself laughing a lot. There were also tears, from some of the songs that I chose to sing. Jo helped me all the way, acknowledging my emotions and personal story. Within weeks I was developing my singing, Jo complimented me on my tone and getting the notes correct, while also being honest that my range was in the lower part, whereas most of the songs I love, are in the higher range. A year or so with Jo, developed my confidence so much, both in my ability to sing in front of a crowd and also with my storytelling. I now have two stories where I sing. I have sung to a roomful of children and families and children and teachers, as part of a story, several times now.
Due to a close bereavement nearly two years ago, I had to stop the lessons. More recently I have needed something to nourish me inside a little more. I realised that I needed to go back to singing, as it can be so uplifting. It had previously reinforced, that I can overcome great difficulties. So this morning I went back to Jo and nearly two years later, my singing memory and muscle memory came back, Jo was amazed and congratulatory about how much I had remembered, as singing really is an art. I felt compelled to write this blog this morning, on the benefits of singing, on personal perseverance, and what happens when I have a teacher who totally accepts me, is honest with feedback, and is also great fun to be with. My next ambition is to sing a ballad in front of an adult crowd. Watch this space.