Sensing Stories

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

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What Will Sensing Stories Involve – click to jump to section

Am I Eligible to Take Part – click to jump to section

How do I Apply – click to jump to section


We are very pleased to be working in partnership with Scottish International Storytelling Festival and Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland on another year of Sensing Stories. This year we working with storyteller Gauri Raje, who will be leading a series of five storytelling workshops for up to five disabled people based in Scotland.

Through the series of five two-hour workshops, participants will be taught some simple techniques used by storytellers to speak confidently and effectively, and to keep an audience engaged. 

Sensing Stories is 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 

Photo of Gauri Raje

We understand that storytelling might not seem relevant to many people but the techniques explored throughout the workshops, will be useful for all sorts of experiences and activities, such as: public speaking engagements; job interviews; writing engaging speeches.

The workshops will look at effective use of voice and breath, considering how to incorporate other senses, how to engage live audiences.


Workshops will be made accessible for those taking part. For instance this could include BSL interpretation, live captioning or other ways of working that address access requirements and/or full involvement in the workshops.

Any costs associated with an individual’s access requirements will be covered by us.

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.

What will Sensing Stories involve?

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

The five workshops will be 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

Am I eligible to take part?

To be eligible for this opportunity you must: 

  • identify as disabled 
  • be aged 18 or over
  • be based in Scotland
  • be available for the five workshop dates (outlined above)

*A note on terminology – what do we mean by disabled?

We use the term ‘disabled people’ or ‘disabled artists’ to refer to anyone who self-identifies as disabled. This can include D/deaf people if they identify as disabled as well as others living with impairments (physical, sensory, learning, cognitive, mental health, etc.) that identify as disabled.

Birds of Paradise and the Scottish International Storytelling Festival use the Social Model of Disability and recognise that some people who experience disabling barriers may not identify as disabled (such as people who are Deaf or neurodivergent) – if this applies to you, please know that you are also welcome apply.

How do I apply?

To apply for this opportunity please complete the application form, available at the button below.

Please also ensure you complete our anonymous Equal Opportunities form, which will appear at the end of the application form.

If this application process is not accessible for you please email and we will work with you to find a solution.

Applications are now closed

Learn about Sensing Stories 2020/21

Sesning Stories 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 is 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