Sensing Stories

An opportunity for disabled people based in Scotland to develop storytelling skills and learn about how those skills can be useful .


Sensing Stories is a creative development project delivered in partnership with Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland. It was run across two years, with one group working in 2021 and another group working in 2022.

Sensing Stories was open to any disabled person aged eighteen or over, and who is based in Scotland who could benefit from at least one of the following:

  • Developing an interest in live performance
  • Developing an interest in a new artistic and life learning skill
  • Developing new ways of expression, be it personal or artistic
  • Engaging with a creative community 

The participants didn’t have to have a background in the arts, and through the online sessions, they were able to learn some simple techniques used by storytellers to speak confidently and effectively, and to keep an audience engaged. 

What is Storytelling?

Storytelling is at the root of human connection. Our stories are the threads which connect us to each other, but are also expressions of our differences. Storytelling stimulates the imagination and builds a sense of community between tellers and listeners, helping us understand our environment and personal experiences. The stories of disabled people have historically been missing from Scottish culture – BOP and SISF are passionate about ensuring these stories are heard more widely.

The storytelling sessions explored areas including effective use of voice and breath, considering how to incorporate other senses, how to engage live audiences. In addition to storytelling, these are useful skills for experiences and activities, such as: public speaking engagements and job interviews.

Sensing Stories 2022

Sensing Stories 2022

Gauri is a woman of Asian heritage, in this photo in her early 30s. She stands on a stage with her arms spread out wide and her fingers open. She is telling a story to an audience. She stands in front of an organe curtain. She has long dark hair that falls past her shoulders and small earrings in.

Sensing Stories 2022 was led by professional storyteller Gauri Raje.

Please follow this link to learn more about Gauri.

Sensing Stories 2022 consisted of five two-hour group skills workshops.  All the workshops were led by Gauri Raje, an experienced professional storyteller. All these workshops were accessible.

The five workshops were held on Zoom, at the following times:

Session 1Monday 10 January2pm – 4pm
Session 2Monday 17 January2pm – 4pm
Session 3Monday 24 January2pm – 4pm
Session 4Monday 31 January2pm – 4pm
Session 5Monday 7 February2pm – 4pm

The first four sessions involved Gauri going through different techniques for writing and delivering a live storytelling performance. This included tasks that asked the participants to consider their breathing and posture – to aid with public delivery, and drawing pictures related to the characters and/ or the setting of the story – to help in the creation of the story’s world.

The fifth session consisted of the participants sharing their stories with each other over Zoom.

It was the preference of the group to keep the storytelling event as a closed session, and to keep their details off of the website.

“Thank you so much for the storytelling course it was awesome and it taught me so much.”
Workshop participant

Sensing Stories 2021

Sesning Stories 2021 is divided into two sections: Development & Performance

Development: Through a series of workshops, participants will learn some simple storytelling skills and gain the confidence to start their creative storytelling journey.

Performance: After completing the workshops, participants will be invited to share their work-in-progress stories at a closed event.

Sensing Stories 2021 was led by professional storyteller Dougie Mackay.

Please follow this link to learn more about Dougie.

“Dougie was wonderful”
Storytelling participant

Meet the Storytellers

Left – Right: Carol Fraser, Ruth Rankin, Sorcha Pringle, Zara Todd

Sensing Stories : Development

The development phase of Sensing Stories consists of three group skills workshops, an individual 1:1 session.

The three group workshops included a practical introduction to live storytelling and the associated skills, and will include the chance to perform and receive feedback. These three workshops are scheduled as follows:

Session 1Tuesday 17 November2pm – 4pm
Session 2Tuesday 1 December2pm – 4pm
Session 3Tuesday 15 December2pm – 4pm

In early 2021 each participant received a 1:1 individual tutorial with Dougie. This was an opportunity for the storytellers to get further guidance through a focussed 1:1 mentoring session with Dougie, where they began to focus on preparing a short work-in-progress piece to share in the performance section.

“Unfortunately covid limited how much I could explore immersive storytelling but I am very happy with the program.”
Storyteller participant

Sensing Stories : Performance

During the early stages of planning this project (September 2020) it had been our hope that the performance element may be able to be held live in person but sadly that was not possible.

Instead, each storyteller took part in a digital storytelling event that was open to the public. The event was hosted by Dougie, who invited each storyteller in turn to take the (digital) floor, and share the story they had been working with him, with everyone gathered there.

“I wish been able to explore more in immersive elements of storytelling but I’m happy with what I learnt considering working remotely.”
Storyteller participant