What is Oral Storytelling?

You are most likely to be on this page because you have an interest in Traditional Oral Storytelling and perhaps you are part of the growing resurgence in traditional oral storytelling. For people who may not be fully aware of what traditional oral storytelling is exactly, let’s have a quick look.  


Oral Storytelling is not poetry, yet it might have rhyme and rhythm, it is not acting, but it has characters.   A story is not learnt verbatim, it is not a script, it can be found written down, however it is never read out (ever).  


Stories are mythical, fantastical, and unfamiliar and yet they sound somewhat familiar. They are not a lie and yet some of it is not, exactly true. It can be truthful and yet some of it could be a lie. When we are asked as storytellers, ‘Is it true’?   We might reply, ‘You may find some of your truth in the story’.   Oral Storytellers never tell the same story exactly the same way, each telling is different. We react to the audience, picking up cues from the people listening, from the immediate environment, the sounds, the sights, the smells. These can become a small part of the story told on that day. It is often said that oral storytellers tell, ‘eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart’. Neuroscience has found that the parts of the storytellers brain that lights up when telling a story, these very same part’s also light up in the audience’s brain.


Some people comment, ‘Isn’t Storytelling just for children’?   The answer is simple, storytelling is for any age. There are now many successful Oral Storytelling clubs and events for Grown Ups,    sprouting up all over the UK. Some have been in existence for years. Oral Storytelling is now a growing phenomenon.  


If you enjoy listening to a good story, if you like to laugh, dream, relax, be moved, be taken on a journey of imagination or enjoy the odd ghost story, then oral storytelling is for you.


As our lives become more consumed by social media, screens and work, we are slowly becoming more disconnected as people, as families as a society.   Traditional Oral Storytelling is a unique way to share magical moments together safely. We are primarily social beings, anyone who has been to a music concert or festival, knows how connected we feel when we all sing that same song together, for instance. Oral Storytelling when experienced live has a similar effect, we feel part of a bigger something and yet we can also experience the story, individually. Come along and be a part of the growing phenomena of oral storytelling.

Shane Ibbs 30th April 2018.