Someone reached out to me looking for storytelling shows, festivals, and other events that are looking for storytellers. They wanted to have an idea of where to pitch stories they wanted to tell. I typically don’t do a post or have a page on my blog strictly for that. But thanks to the inspiration of the question, I’m doing this post on storytelling shows, festivals, and events that are looking for people to tell stories. I use “people who tell stories” because in some cases, you don’t have to be a professional storyteller. You’ll need to talk to the organizer about the requirements.
Because my blog reaches an array of people interested in story, I’ll take a min to explain the different categories these fall in
(NOTE: What I have here is a list of shows and events that I know or can find when searching. Most of what I know skews heavily to US and English-speaking oral storytelling. I’m sure there are many other shows, festivals, and events. I encourage you to look locally and internationally for more.)
These can be regularly reoccurring shows, shows with themes, or special one-off events. The organizations and groups listed here may advertise public or through storytelling groups when organizing for a show. I most regularly do shows with Better Said than done and Armed Forces Arts Partnership (ASAP). I’ve also done shows with The Story Collider, Hoot and holler, Secretly Y’all, Ubuntu Storytellers, and many others. They are normally looking for someone that has worked on and practiced a story. There is some sort of video sent, or audition completed, or perhaps a recommendation by another storyteller. If there is pay, it may be from $20 – $125. (that varies). There is normally at least one (maybe more) session before the show to work on the story before the show.
Organizations that I know that do storytelling shows
- Better Said Than Done
- The Story Collider
- Artist Standing Strong Together
- Story District
- Ubuntu Storytellers
- Hoot and Holler
- Secretly Y’all
- The Stoop Storytelling Series
- Tales and Ales
- Risk! Live storytelling
- The Grapevine Storytelling series
I’ve been helping with the Women’s Storytelling Festival (https://www.bettersaidthandone.com/womens-festival-2022/) organized by Better Said Than Done for the last 3 years. I have hopes of attending others like the International Storytelling Festival (https://store.storytellingcenter.net/) and the National Storytelling Network Conference (https://storynet.org/events/conference/). There are others this year being planned by VASA (https://virginiastorytellingalliance.org/) and Story Jam (https://www.storyjamshow.com/) later this year, so be sure to check in with them and others.
So what is a storytelling festival? From my experience, it is a collection of storytelling shows held over the course of a few days. The shows range from 1 – 1.5 hrs long. Sometimes there are 8 to 10 storytellers performing. Other times, there are 4 or fewer with longer stories performed. Depending on the festival, there are workshops and other special offerings dealing with the art and business of storytelling. Below are just a few that I have found. Some, like the Women’s Storytelling Festival, aren’t taking submission right now, but will later in the year. Checking out festivals now as an audience member will allow you to get a feel for what they are like before trying to pitch a story.
- Women’s Storytelling Festival
- FUNDA fest
- NSN Storytelling Conference
- National Association of Black Storytellers
- Florida Storytelling Festival
- Texas Storytelling Festival
- Timpanogos Storytelling Festival
- National Storytelling Festival
- St. Simons Island Storytelling Festival
- Serria Storytelling Festival
- Sounds of the Mountains
These are similar to storytelling shows above, but they may happen once a year, or just be one-off situations. I told a story for the DC Black film festival (http://dcbff.org/). I created a story for the Prince William County Black History event in 2020 (“African Americans and the Vote” – 2020 Black History Month Program). These are harder to anticipate. Someone normally has reached out to me directly and we worked out a deal that benefits everyone. My recommendation for these is to:
- Network so people know you are available and capable
- Have an internet presence (website, social media, contact info)
Again, what I have here are just the start of places to look to try to tell a story at storytelling shows, festivals, and events. Use these as a starting point to get on stage and tell your story on purpose.