UK PERFORMANCE STORYTELLERS

These are the storytellers we've been working with recently in performance contexts - some are new emerging artists, whilst others are well established performers. Storytellers are highly individualistic. Each artist performs, approaches their work, and develops their repertoire in very different ways.

We like to build long-term relationships with the storytellers we work with. We value distinctive personalities, strong performance styles and intelligent repertoires. We seek out those who can really command a stage and readily establish the vital rapport between audience and storyteller, and we work hard to match storytellers to events, audiences and venues. For advice, please get in touch.

button Jan Blake
button Jo Blake Cave
button Katy Cawkwell
button Sally Pomme Clayton
button Xanthe Gresham
button Ben Haggarty
button Michael Harvey
button Emily Hennessey
button Nick Hennessey
button Dominic Kelly
button Hugh Lupton
button Christine MacMahon
button Daniel Morden
button Clare Muireann Murphy
button Pandvani 108
button Nell Phoenix
button Tim Ralphs
button Rachel Rose Reid
button Martin Shaw
button TUUP

button Worldwide Artists


Jan Blake
Jan Blake Jan is one of Britain’s outstanding female storytellers, performing in theatres and festivals the length and breadth of Europe. She was born in Manchester to Jamaican parents. Inspired by recordings of 'Miss Lou' (Louise Bennett) she came to telling stories in 1986. She rapidly gained an international reputation for witty and exhilarating performances. She has a powerful singing voice and can seize any stage.Specialising in folktales from West Africa, North Africa, the Arab world and the Caribbean, her repertoire is full of tales of powerful women and her versions of Ananse’s exploits are definitive. She is closely involved with projects that will develop a new generation of British storytellers of African and Caribbean descent. www.janblakestories.com
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Jo Blake Cave
Jo Blake Cave Jo Blake Cave is a new voice storyteller based in Northampton. She turned her attention to storytelling having gained a 1st class honours in Performing Arts at the University of Winchester and an MA with distinction in Dance Theatre from Laban. She draws from an ever-expanding repertoire of international fairytales, epics and myths and enjoys both solo projects as well as collaborations with other artists, including poets, musicians, directors, and fellow storytellers. Her poetic performances weave together traditional tales, mythology, biography and autobiography, with a dynamic, expressive physicality. Jo is Storyteller-in-Residence at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton, and is currently studying for a practice-based PhD in performance storytelling at the University of Chichester under the supervision of Professor Jane Bacon and Dr Ian Hornsby.  www.joblakecave.co.uk
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Katy Cawkwell
Katy Cawkwell Katy’s introduction to storytelling came from seeing the Company of Storytellers as a teenager. She started telling whilst studying Classics at Oxford in 1996, where she also founded and ran an extremely successful storytelling club. Katy has developed a repertoire of clear and powerful storytelling performances for both adult and family audiences, drawing especially on British and Norse traditions. She has performed in venues right across Britain, from telling a tale of Loki in a burial chamber on Anglesey, to condensing Wagner's entire Ring Cycle to 20 minutes at the Barbican! Katy paused her career to start a family, but is now back performing – currently focusing on her collaborative work with cellist Sarah Llewellyn-Jones.   www.katycawkwell.co.uk

‘A wonderful and gifted performer’ Handel House Museum
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Sally Pomme Clayton
Sally Pomme Clayton Sally Pomme Clayton (Pomme) has performed for adults and children since 1984 and is a founding member of The Company of Storytellers. From witty folktales to wild romances, she has a huge repertoire of stories drawn from all over the world. She has performed in venues across the UK, including The British Museum; The Barbican; The Soho Theatre; Northern Stage; Edinburgh International Book Festival; Bristol Old Vic; Aberystwyth Arts Centre; Ilkley Literature Festival, and 11 Downing Street...

She regularly works with musicians performing alongside Welsh National Opera, London Sinfonietta and Joglaresa. She has been commissioned by the likes of the British Library, the National Gallery, the Unicorn Theatre, BBC Radio 3, and Chichester Festival. Pomme has been a featured artist in many European Storytelling Festivals and toured with the British Council to Spain, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Sweden and Portugal. She has published several books for children, many of them illustrated by artist Sophie Herxhuimer. She has won awards for playwriting and new writing for radio.   www.sallypommeclayton.com

‘She delights in subverting her audiences expectations ...tweaking and twisting the stories to suit the demands of the audience.’ The Independent
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Xanthe Gresham
Xanthe Gresham Xanthe left teaching and became a storyteller in 1995, having seen Ben Haggarty tell stories in her school. Now a well established performer, her style is highly distinctive and laced through with a delight of the absurd and preposterous. Xanthe has performed in theatres, festivals, schools and libraries across the UK, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Holland, Switzerland and New Zealand. She has worked extensively for The British Museum performing Epics from Iran, Iraq and Ireland, Native American Stories, and Stories for numerous exhibitions such as ‘The Magic of Persia’ and ‘Durer’. She works as a storyteller for Holland Park and The Chelsea Physic Garden and is Lecturer in Storytelling and Drama at the University of East London. Her theatre performances push at the boundaries between theatre, physical theatre and performance storytelling, and her use of props, costume, wigs and ‘stuff’ has become her hallmark.   www.xanthegresham.co.uk

‘she speaks like a woman spitting jewels.’ Arts Council England
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Ben Haggarty
Ben Haggarty Having trained in mime and theatre direction, and apprenticed as an image-maker with Welfare State, Ben Haggarty began telling stories in 1981 - becoming a central figure in the re-visioning of storytelling as a contemporary performing art in the UK. Today Ben is a world-class performance storyteller and much sought after teacher, whose work delights and subverts audiences across the English-speaking world. Ben has performs in venues ranging from caves to the Carnegie Hall, and has been commissioned by the likes of the Barbican, the British Museum, the ENO, the National Gallery, the Unicorn Theatre & the Guardian Hay Festival. He is the official storyteller for Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, devising shows for audiences of up to 10,000 people.

A regular voice on BBC Radio (Today, Midweek, A Good Read), he has undertaken research trips to Northern and Central India and in Central Asia; he was researcher and consultant for Jim Henson’s ‘Storyteller' series, and is author of the graphic novels ‘MeZolith. Ben founded the Crick Crack Club; co-founded The Company of Storytellers, Beyond the Border Festival, and most recently Pandvani 108. He is Honorary Professor of Storytelling at Berlin's University of the Arts.   www.benhaggarty.com
'This is real storytelling’ Hay Literary Festival (for Frankenstein)

'I was spellbound – I don’t use the word lightly’ The Times
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Michael Harvey
Michael Harvey Michael performs, solo and with other artists, throughout the UK, Europe, North and South America, and is a popular UK festival and storytelling club performer. Michael's repertoire is international in nature, though he draws particular inspiration from the Welsh oral heritage and landscape, and with a love of languages, has a strong interest in bi-lingual storytelling. Most of his work is in either English or Welsh and occasionally both at the same time! He works as a storyteller throughout the education sector from nursery to degree level courses and devises community projects delivered with other artists. Michael is multi-lingual and his book ‘O Pássaro e os Dois Mundos’, a Scottish firebird story in Portuguese illustrated by Renata Bueno, is published by Larousse.   www.michaelharvey.org

‘mesmerising’ The Sunday Times
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Emily Hennessey
Emily Hennessey Emily Hennessey came to storytelling while studying Drama & Theatre Studies at the University of Kent where she met storyteller Dr Vayu Naidu. Emily completed a storytelling apprenticeship with Vayu and later trained with Ben Haggarty. Emily has also had the privilege of training with Indian Pandvani performer, Ritu Verna.

Playful, imaginative and daring to take risks, Emily tells myths, legends, epics, folktales, fairytales and fables from around the world. With a Swedish background, Emily has a particular passion for Norse mythology. Work and research trips in rural India, from Ladakh to Tamil Nadu, have also infused a great love of Hindu myth and epic.

Recent performances include a tour of India with the British Council, the Royal Opera House, the Viking Ship Museum in Denmark and Beyond the Beyond Storytelling Festival. Emily is a key member of the Pandvani108 ensemble with whom she has toured music festivals across the UK and performed at venues such as Soho Theatre, Richmix and the Ancient Technology Centre.   www.emilyhennessey.co.uk
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Nick Hennessey
Nick Hennessey Nick Hennessey came to storytelling whilst undertaking field research for a PhD in Cultural Geography. He became a professional singer, songwriter and storyteller with a particular interest in the relationship between landscape, communities and stories, and the traditional culture of northern Europe. In 2000 he won the World Championship in epic-singing performing the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic in Espoo, near Helsinki and regularly returns to perform Kalevala in English for Finnish audiences. Nick has performed at the Barbican, the Soho Theatre, at South Bank Centre and the Albert Hall and extensively at folk, storytelling, and literature festivals throughout the UK and internationally (Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Canada and two national tours of Japan). He has published three solo albums, the most recent of which, “A Rare Hunger” released on Harbourtown Records, received critical acclaim with airtime plays on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction and numerous stations in the US.   www.nickhennessey.co.uk

‘He brings that rare combination of artistic adventure and absolute accessibility…a magical performer’ London Literature Festival
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Dominic Kelly
Dominic Kelly Dominic Kelly is one of a new generation of performance storyteller - based in Lancaster, UK and Stockholm, Sweden. He has established a reputation for producing powerful work combining intricate composition with the energy of improvised performance. Dominic’s performances include shows at LitFest, The Royal and Derngate and Tom Thumb Theatre; at London’s Barbican, the Soho Theatre, Cheltenham Literature Festival & the Bargehouse for The Crick Crack Club; at numerous folk, arts and storytelling festivals, and at storytelling clubs across England.

Dividing his time between England and Sweden, Dominic has a special interest in the stories and legends of the North West of England, and the relationship between narrative and place. In early 2009 Dominic was awarded the New Directions Commissions by Cambridge Storytelling Festival: ‘Crow’ was the result. In 2011 he was commissioned by 3monkeys to make ‘Trickster’. Dominic works with LitFest, the Lancaster Literature Festival as performance storytelling programmer and advisor. He is an Associate Storyteller with Fabula Storytelling Company in Stockholm and a member of Pandvani 108.   www.dominic-kelly.com

‘Compelling’ The Times
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Hugh Lupton
Hugh Lupton Hugh Lupton’s interest in traditional music, street theatre, live poetry, and myth led him to become a storyteller in 1981. In 1985 he co-founded the Company of Storytellers with Ben Haggarty and Sally Pomme Clayton. Hugh is the poet of the storytelling world, and his work focuses on the crafted use of English language. He specialises in biographic storytelling, and the creation of praise poems to capture the lives of those living in specific periods of English history. His work with Daniel Morden on adaptations of Greek myths has received wide acclaim, and the duo was awarded the 2005 Classical Association prize for ‘the most significant contribution to the public understanding of the classics’.

Hugh has toured Africa and South America for the British Council and regularly performs in Europe and the USA. He has published several collections of folk-tales, including the award wining ‘Tales of Wisdom and Wonder’, his first novel, based on the life of poet John Clare, was published in 2010. He has appeared on Late Junction, Something Understood, the Discovery Channel and in programmes for the Open University. Hugh's song ‘One in a Million’ (co-written with Chris Wood) won the BBC 2 folk awards for ‘Original Song of the Year’ 2005.   www.hughlupton.com

‘...as you journey deeper into the world of imagination… the tears start slowly to well up inside you and spill...’ The Times
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Christine Macmahon
Christine Macmahon Born to a Lancashire father and a Yorkshire mother. Christine has lived her life on both sides of the crags. The result is a vibrant, unflappable, performer with a quick wit, and a bone dry sense of humour. With a background in drama and psychology, by day Christine works with storytelling in restorative justice with young people, and by night, she takes to the stage.

She is a regular teller at the popular ‘Tales at the Wharf’ Storytelling Club in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, which has been running for 11 years. She has a passion for English folktales. Drawing on her Lancashire childhood in the shadow of Pendle Hill (witch country if ever there was!), she combines dark and mysterious tales of strange births, bewitchment and revenge with deep Yorkshire humour to bring a robust approach to storytelling.
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Daniel Morden
Daniel Morden Daniel has been telling traditional stories for a living since 1989 and his craft has taken him around the world, from the Arctic to the Pacific to the Caribbean. His repertoire ranges from nonsense to fairytale to myth and his lucid, humorous and passionate storytelling has been seen at the Soho Theatre, the National Theatre, the Barbican Centre, the British Museum, WOMAD, Hay, Cheltenham, Bath and Ilkley Literature Festivals, and Sydney Writer's Festival. His collaborations with Hugh Lupton retelling Greek Myths earned them The Classical Association Prize in 2005, and he regularly collaborates with The Devil’s Violin Company, to create and perform shows which combine stories and music. Daniel has published many books, of which Dark Tales from the Woods and Tree of Leaf & Flame won the Welsh Books Council's Tir Na Nog Award.   www.thedevilsviolin.co.uk

‘Master storytellers’ The Guardian

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Clare Muireann Murphy (Eire)
Clare Muireann Murphy Clare Muireann Murphy is one of a new generation of performance storytellers. Part Irish, part American, she has lived in both countries, as well as in Spain, and is now based in London. A popular performer at European storytelling festivals, she has performed stories in more than 20 countries and in both English & Spanish Her repertoire extends from her beloved Irish mythology to a wealth of short stories from world folklore, anecdotes, fables, death stories, personal tales and original stories. Her storytelling performances are physical and passionate, and she is blessed with an inherently delightful personality that befriends all and sundry. Clare has performed at the Globe, Barbican, Soho Theatre and the Bargehouse Festival for the Crick Crack Club in London, as well as at numerous storytelling clubs, and both Beyond the Border Festival & Festival at the Edge. In 2013 Clare was Storyteller in Residence at the University of Manitoba's Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.   www.claremurphy.org
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Pandvani 108
Pandvani 108 Associate ensemble of the Crick Crack Club, Pandvani 108 clattered noisily onto the storytelling scene in Autumn 2011. In summer 2012 they took Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival by storm and are now busy brewing up plans to rock as many summer festivals as they possibly can in 2013

This wildy experimental group combines the skills of international performers and emergent artists to produce vivid, highly engaging, adrenaline filled performances of short sections myth and epic using a technique that combines a Storyteller, a ‘Ragi’ (whose interjections – both serious and comedic - spur the narrative ever onwards) and a deceptively ad hoc backing band. Allied by their mutual conviction of the need for artistic experimentation Pandvani 108 have created (accidentally on purpose) a startling new storytelling form described by audiences as ‘inspirationally brilliant’, ‘an unquestionable highlight’, ‘stunning’ and ‘totally addictive’.

Pandvani 108 storytellers are Ben Haggarty, Dominic Kelly, Emily Hennessey, Sean O'Shah and Cat Gerrard. www.pandvani108.com

‘one of the highlights of this year’s festival - playful, powerful and very exciting’
David Ambrose, Beyond the Border Festival
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Nell Phoenix
Nell Phoenix Nell is one of our favourite storytellers for our multiple voice shows at Rich Mix (and elsewhere) and has a fabulous repertoire of short (and short-ish) stories. She has been performing professionally since graduating from Goldsmiths College in 1984. As an actress, she has performed in theatres around the world - from the Blackpool Grand to the Sydney Opera House; all over Eastern and Western Europe, and in all sorts of places in-between. With an utterly engaging intimate storytelling style, Nell balances beautifully the comedic, the magical, and occasionally the downright rude. Recent work includes stories told at Highgrove, Hackney Library, Kensington Palace and for NTS Live, Dalston’s own digital radio station. She also creates stories for charities and companies; recent commissions incl. V&A, Brit Museum, 40 Winks Bedtime Stories, WWF, Arts for Human Rights, After Adoption, Radley Handbags and Selfridges. She is Artistic Director of StoryNight at Torriano, Kentish Town's thriving performance storytelling clubs for adults.  www.nellphoenix.co.uk
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Tim Ralphs
Tim Ralphs An award winning young storyteller in 2007, Tim is one of a new generation of performance storytellers. His performance style is energetic and his composition knows no bounds. Striving always to innovate, his work draws on our international narrative inheritance, literature, the ever-changing cityscape of his home, fairytale, myth and legend. His performances merge the contemporary with the ancient with enviable integrity and a touch of genius. Whether in conversation with refugees, appearing live at international festivals across Europe or using the internet to reach across continents, Tim has a glint in his eye and a skill to entrance and entertain. He also sings…and plays the ukulele.   www.timralphs.com
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Rachel Rose Reid
Rachel Rose Reid Rachel Rose Reid is poet, a writer and one of a new generation of storytellers. She specialises in taking storytelling to spoken word and performance poetry events across London and beyond. She has performed poetry and tales at the Southbank Centre, Nuyorican Poets Café (NY), Latitude Festival and The Barbican, had work commissioned for BBC Radio 3, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Billy Bragg, and collaborated with fellow artists including the Roundhouse Experimental Choir and Dizraeli & the Small Gods. Rachel also has a strong interest in recreated ritual and re-establishing folk customs in urban environments. The Lonely Planet blog named her community ritual The Willesden Green Wassail as "one of the UK's most inspirational winter events".   www.rachelrosereid.com
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Martin Shaw
Martin Shaw Dr Martin Shaw is a storyteller and mythologist. He leads a course on oral culture and myth at Stanford university in the U.S., and is visiting fellow at Schumacher college in the UK. He is author of the award winning “A Branch From The Lightning Tree”, and the upcoming “Snowy Tower: Parzival and the Wet, Black Branch of Language (2014)”. His recent versions of Arthurian and Gaelic folk-tales and poetry with Tony Hoagland are forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Poetry International, and the Mississippi Review. Director of the Westcountry school of myth, he came to storytelling while living for four years under canvas, exploring small pockets of English wilderness.   www.schoolofmyth.com
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TUUP
TUUP Born to Guyanese parents and raised in Acton, West London, Godfrey Duncan - TUUP (The Unorthodox, Unprecedented Preacher) - has been a professional storyteller since 1981, when he joined Ben Haggarty to form the West London Storytelling Unit. Truly an elder of the storytelling revival in Britain, his style is one of total improvisation, unbounded charisma and alarming spontaneity. His fabulous capacity for mimicry and ear for a wild story is outstanding. TUUP has travelled the world extensively, telling stories all over Europe and in both Northern and Southern Africa. In his role as a creative lyricist, poet, percussionist and vocalist with the highly influential dance music collective, Transglobal Underground, he has performed throughout Europe, Central Asia, Asia and North and South America.

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