About Storytelling

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is one of our oldest artforms. It stimulates the imagination and builds a sense of community between tellers and listeners.

Stories are everywhere – in newspapers, books, on TV and the internet. Every day conversation is full of anecdotes and real life stories. Storytelling helps us understand our environment and personal experience.

Many older stories are originally traditional folktales. They represent the richness of oral patterns of telling and are the product of a community experience, as well as the art of individual storytellers. Historical stories, legends and contemporary stories can also be the subject of the storyteller’s tale, and they too embody a strong element of community or collective experience.

The emphasis of traditional storytelling is as much on the telling as the story itself. Stories are recreated by the teller at each telling and passed on through generations. True storytelling happens when the story is told person to person, live, without print or technology. Nothing beats the experience of a live storytelling performance for bringing tales to life.

People of different ages, backgrounds, and cultures can communicate through storytelling. Storytelling is also a valuable tool in education, language development, therapy, and in building racial equality and religious respect.

Who are the storytellers?

Everyone is a storyteller,but some people choose to develop their storytelling skills to become a professional or community storyteller.

Scotland is home to a wonderfully rich and diverse network of storytellers with varied styles and repertoires. Many storytellers connect their love of stories with their upbringing or childhood influences, but what unites them all is a commitment to the practice of their art. The work of the storyteller ranges from sharing tales as entertainment, to leading storytelling projects with vulnerable groups, such as asylum seekers, people with additional needs and the elderly.

While some of Scotland’s storytellers have been influenced by one or more storytelling traditions, most acknowledge a debt to Gaelic storytelling, storytelling in Scots, or to the traditions of the Scottish Travellers.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre encourages, supports and facilitates storytelling in families, communities, places of learning and natural environments. We also recognise and honour several special kinds of storyteller:

    • Tradition Bearers – those who have preserved and are passing on older traditions of stories. They are our Honorary Founders.
    • Community Storytellers – those who share stories in their communities or through their work contributing to human well-being and quality of life.
    • Professional Storytellers – those who wish to travel across Scotland and exercise their storytelling craft as a paid profession.

We ask all these kinds of storytellers to become Network members of the Scottish Storytelling Forum and to participate in mutual support, collaboration and growth.

The renaissance of storytelling is indebted to tradition bearers who have generously shared their art. Storytelling is now reaching out to all age groups and sections of our society in new ways to celebrate our common humanity.