Starting Your Own Storytelling Circle

If you want to start your own storytelling circle, the most basic advice is “just go ahead and do it”. It can be an incredibly rewarding thing to do, providing an opportunity for you and others to exercise your storytelling skills with an audience and contributing something of huge worth to local communities. There is absolutely no right way to start or to run a storytelling circle but there are some things you might wish to take into consideration.

  • There are many styles of storytelling circle or group. Some focus on telling true stories, providing a platform for people to tell stories from their own life experience, while others spend more time looking to telling tradition folk tales. You might want to think about what stories you would like your circle to focus on, or if sessions focus on different types of story or so on.
  • As well as content, the structure of a session varies from group to group. Some have a completely open floor approach, in which no one knows what stories will be told and who will tell them until the session itself. Others have guest tellers, sometimes followed by an open floor session. How might you consider structuring the programme?
  • Location. Where are you going to hold your circle? This will depend very much on your target audience. If you are aiming to attract a largely adult audience, then local pubs can be keen to host storytelling circles. For younger audiences, you could think about libraries or community centres.
  • A good storytelling circle needs to be well compèred. This is, as much as anything else, a courtesy to your audience and your performers. Are you happy to be the compère or do you have someone involved in the group who has those skills (remember, the skills needed in a good compère are often the skills needed in a good storyteller).
  • Promotion. I’m guessing that you want to let people know about your new circle. Local newspapers are often very interested in community ventures like this. Prepare a press release as you would like to see an article appear in your local paper and send copies to the press and other media. Also look to putting simple hand printed posters up in your venue and in local community minded shops, cafés etc.

None of this is rocket science, but to develop a rewarding and fulfilling storytelling circle it is worth putting a little thought into it and coming to some conclusions in advance as to whom your target audience is, what you would like them to get out of the experience and what you would like to get out of the experience.