When storytelling comes to life… – Q & A with Ian Douglas

Mon, April 29, 2019 by Albert

For our Tales by the Ribble family fun day, we welcomed Ian Douglas, Storyteller and Theatre Maker, to Settle. We spoke to Ian about what inspires him and what visitors can expect to see and hear when he performs.

How did your life as a storyteller begin?

I started out twenty four years ago when I lived in the North East, I told my first story at the Bit Crack storytelling club, held at the Cumberland Arms and it progressed from there. I was inspired by meeting Duncan Williamson very early on in my career and then of course, as many of us have been, Taffy Thomas.

What can visitors expect to see from your performance at Tales by The Ribble?

My style of telling is very participatory, I like to feel that audiences are part of the stories that I tell and not just passive. I’m energetic and a lot of the stories that I tell make me laugh, but I can drop a serious one in very now and then too.

How do the locations of different events influence the stories that you tell?

Intimacy in a space demands a different delivery style to one that is wide open. I’m lucky because I trained in street theatre so I’m not intimidated by big open spaces or telling in a street setting. Equally I’m comfortable around a fire side, I just draw the performance down for those occasions.

What is it about live storytelling that you enjoy the most?

Watching an audience lean in to a story, I still find it amazing that so many people that I meet have never witnessed good storytelling, so there are often barriers that you have to break down. Especially so with adults, therefore its wonderful to see an audience settle in and lean forward for the words and stories that I tell.

Do you have a favourite story?

That’s a good question!…I’m not sure that I have a favourite story, more that I have stories that are like old friends. Some of the ‘Jack tales’ that I tell have been with me for twenty years, so they are like my pipe and slippers.

How do you prepare for a show/performance?

I get quite anxious on the way to a gig, but when I arrive I start to settle, I usually wear my hat for telling and that is usually the last thing to go on and then I’m ready. I tend to have a number of stories that I know I will tell, but then you never know who’s in the room so I relax by talking to people and go from there.


What attracted you to want to perform at this particular event?

I have wanted to work with Settle Stories for a long time, but unfortunately it’s never quite happened, so when I was asked to take part in the Tales By The Ribble Event – I jumped at the chance.

Do you think that the stories you tell will appeal to families in particular?

Yes most definitely, it’s what I do best!!!

Ian says that “storytelling has a unique ability to connect people, not only to each other but to the past, the future and to the world around us”. We couldn’t agree more. Ian was fantastic at our Tales by the Ribble event, a definite family favourite. We hope to work with him again soon!

Written by volunteer writer Elizabeth Snell

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