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An archive of performance storytelling

The archive is a historical document of interest to anyone studying the nature of the public performative aspect of oral storytelling in Britain; its re-creation and re-development as a contemporary performance art; the events that have taken place; the artists participating in them, and the material being told, from the early 1980s to 2007.

The content of the archive

The archive documents the revival, re-development and re-creation of performance storytelling in the UK, and the international influences that have shaped and informed it.

The archive contains over 900 individual recordings. It features around 220 voices, and spans a period from 1983 to 2007. Most of the material in the archive was collected on an ad hoc basis, with little strategic or long-term view to either its preservation or dissemination. As a study of a reviving art-form, the material included ranges from the raw and experimental, to the polished and formally presented.

The aim was to create an archive of storytelling 'performances': events where either the audience paid to see the storyteller, and/or the storyteller was paid to perform. Not every recording in the archive strictly fits this definition and the archive also includes talks, interviews and discussions, which may not be considered 'performances', but which relate to the art-form. As storytelling is often associated with poetry (having been considered a branch of Literature by the English funding system since 1984), and with music and song, these too have been documented to convey the experience of the audience and give a comprehensive record of the events.

The material was almost exclusively recorded in the UK. A small amount of material has been removed from the archive by artists who would prefer it not to be placed in the public domain. Due to the limited resources of the project, there are also known sources of further recordings which have not been archived.

Who created the archive?

The archive project was initiated and undertaken by the London Centre for International Storytelling, with the financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund. Material was generously donated by organisations who promote and programme storytelling, and by individual storytellers and enthusiasts of the art-form. Contributors include Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival; The Crick Crack Club; The Barbican Centre; A Word in Edgeways; The West London Storytelling Unit; The Company of Storytellers; A Spell in Time, and individuals Hugh Lupton, Ben Haggarty, Sally Pomme Clayton, Marion Oughton, Nick Hennessey, Marc Jobst and Sharon Jacksties.


The London Centre for International Storytelling is a charitable company limited by guarantee.
Registered in England. Company registration no. 5264780. Charity registration no. 1109510.
5 Summit Road, Northolt, London, UB5 5HJ 0208 841 9098

©  The London Centre for International Storytelling: 2007
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