News and Events

Conference 2020 [CANCELLED]

May 29- Friday Options

The 2020 Annual Conference in Parksville, British Columbia, which was scheduled for May 27 to 31, is cancelled. 


All artist biographies can be found here.

SET 1: 1:00 - 2:30PM

1A: Judy Millar- Finding Your Funny Bone

Even tellers who don’t think they’re funny can learn to apply professional comedy techniques to add humour, zest and charm to the stories they tell. We’ll consider ways to say things “sideways” (humorously) and tricks to spice up telling with physicality and technique to add punch to your presentation style. We’ll consider:

  • what makes something funny (so participants know where to find humorous potential in the stories they want to tell). Humour happens when we see, hear or say things “sideways.” (Included for participants is Judy’s “15 Tools in your Comic Toolbox” Handout from her workshop for writers.)
  • how to “bait the hook” with humour or teasers that create listener rapport, curiosity or empathy;
  • how to spice up storytelling with vivid language; comic physicality; vocal techniques; facial expressions and timing tricks
  • why mini-movie “chunking” and act-outs can help tellers add punch to their personal presentation styles


1B: Margaret Murphy, Sandy Cole, Laurie Hutchison: The Blood and Guts of Keeping Storytelling Alive

It takes blood and guts and a lot of laughter to build any group. The goal of this workshop is to help you create and grow a thriving storytelling group. How do we do that? The three facilitators, Margaret, Laurie and Sandy have all been members of The Around Town Tellers since its first year in 2007. Through experience, they have learned three key factors (that need to be continually honed) to create and grow a successful storytelling group: 

  • building an audience, 
  • welcoming tellers, and 
  • attracting volunteers.

The workshop is hands-on, delivered in a relaxed,conversational format. We are open to ongoing questions and comments, to discussing problems and concerns from individuals and groups. All participants will leave this workshop with practical ideas, tools and techniques and yes, even courage and inspiration, to build and grow storytelling in their community.


SET 2: 3:00 - 4:30PM

2A: Faye Mogensen & Margo McLoughlin: Stories for Tapping Into Environmental Awareness and Action

Storytelling has a critical role to play in inspiring environmental awareness. Participants will leave the workshop with a wealth of ideas for using storytelling as a springboard to reflection and action on behalf of the planet. In this workshop, we’ll use 

  • guided meditation, 
  • writing, and 
  • conversation 

to help you uncover a treasure trove of personal stories.We’ll help you tap into your earliest memories in nature, your environmental heroes, and pivotal moments when nature has been your teacher. We’ll consider some examples of traditional story structure and play with dynamic beginnings and endings. Working on your own and in dyads or small groups, we’ll guide you in shaping those memories into tell-able tales. 


2B: Bethany Ellis: Steal My Ideas: Engaging Younger Listeners

How do you feel about telling stories to young children? Whether you are a reluctant novice oran experienced enthusiast. I would like to share my tips and tricks for engaging children aged 3-7 in story. Using finger-play, simple string play, and joining-in stories I would like to share my tips and tricks for holding the attention of younger audiences.

SET 3: 1:00 - 4:00PM

3A: Cindy Shantz: Letting Go

This workshop is about letting go and being in your heart, not your head. You’ll learn to let go of doubts, fears and ego as you explore a different way of generating story ideas, write a two-minute story, and edit and present it. We’ll also let go and have FUN! Together we will:

  • briefly identify ways of generating story ideas. 
  • discuss and illustrate the three parts of the story arc: The Hook; The Reeling In (where tension increases); The Landing
   Participants will then:
  • write a brief rough draft of a story
  • form pairs or small groups (4 people maximum)
  • read their stories to each other and make editing suggestions
  • incorporate suggestions which resonate with them into a second draft
  • learn their stories using “Letting Go” techniques 
  • critique stories told by volunteers (We will use the "sandwich method” to do this--praise; suggestions; praise)

3B: Elizabeth Ellis: Dare to Scare

Why tell Scary Stories? What value do they serve? (Even for children? Especially for children.) Tips on how to select them and guide lines for sharing them effectively. Focus on 

  • performance skills of building a relationship with listeners, 
  • timing, 
  • dealing with performance anxiety, 
  • narrative skills of sensory imagery and conflict building.


SET 3C IS FULL- wait list is available

3C: Noa Baum: Beyond Labels: Bridging Differences Through Storytelling

Experience the storytelling model developed by Israeli born Noa Baum to bridge differences in our communities. Discover how listening to,and telling the story of the “other”, can breakthrough stereotypes and labels to the possibility of compassion and change. Learn an effective tool to foster dialogue and promote stronger more resilient communities and workplaces.

Participants will be able to:

  • Use a storytelling model for working with differences.
  • Learn techniques to deepen listening past opinions and labels.
  • Build community and make connections with others.


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