How does a true-life storytelling performance look? 

The event is happening in a pub, cafe, gallery or theatre.  

It is low-tech; usually, there is a stage and a microphone.  

There is a host who is introducing storytellers and engaging with the audience. 

There are 6-10 storytellers in one evening, and each story is maximum 10 minutes long. 

Storytellers usually tell a story only once and very rarely build a repertoire. 

Stories are aimed at adults and each night has a theme. 

In the centre of this art form are truth and authenticity.  


 What are the reasons for the emergence of true-life storytelling? Is true-life storytelling a new revival of storytelling as an art form? 

What are the reasons for the emergence of true-life storytelling? Is true-life storytelling a new revival of storytelling as an art form? 

How is the environment of true-life storytelling clubs created and structured? How do clubs engage with their audiences and build communities? 

How are true-life storytellers holding the expertise and what is the impact on them when they tell a story?  

How are the personal stories structured, what are the themes and styles present?  


1.Observation and analysis of true-life storytelling performances 

The study included extensive field research during which I have visited ten clubs and observed 25 performance nights.  

3. Interviews with storytellers and club leaders

a) to gather information about the history and the ways clubs are organised

b) to collect self-reflexive thoughts from practitioners on their artistic process and practice. 

2. Archives and story-listening 

to analyse themes, structures and characteristics of individual stories – data collected through club’s podcast totalling 200 stories 

4. Practice as research 

a) to ascertain how my storytelling practice has developed by telling at different clubs  

b) organising True Life Stories club in Loughborough – self-reflection on the role of the club organiser and host 


True-life storytelling is re-shaping storytelling art through changes in content, styles and by putting a new type of storyteller on stage, thus making storytelling more accessible to all.  

The clubs are organised in a non-hierarchical way, on a voluntary basis, and they engage with their audiences in innovative ways through social media and performance ‘games’. The true-life storytelling clubs in the UK are set in big cities and play an important role in developing communities in a multi-cultural environment.  

The performers are not professionals, they are ordinary people from all walks of life, and this research argues they are ‘expert-amateurs’ as they have the expertise of the life experience. The process of creating and performing the story has a beneficial impact on the storyteller, from dealing with painful memories, sharing and connecting with others.  

The short-form stories often deal with themes like overcoming problems and challenges, putting the storyteller in the role of a hero.