Permission to tell?

The tale is not beautiful if nothing is added to it.
(Tuscan proverb, quoted by Italo Calvino, Italian Folktales p. xxi)

People sometimes ask me whether they can tell “my” tales. Well, it would be highly presumptuous to call them “mine”: they have been around a lot, lot longer than I have.

It is true that I have my own way of telling them – although that way changes in each performance.

It is also true that I should be very surprised if any experienced teller wanted to tell them in the way and with the words that I use.


Tellers who are less experienced (or, like me, started without any training or guidance) may need to stay closer to my way – we all had to begin somewhere. But with experience, tellers will tell a story in their own way.

(Similarly, they come to appreciate issues such as research – some useful points about that on Zalka Csenge’s blog, Research for storytellers is not an option, it’s a responsibility.)

So I hope that, like all true storytellers, in the spirit of the Tuscan proverb you can make something of all the stories you meet, and that they become your tales.

For as I like to say at the end of a performance, these tales – often hundreds, even thousands of years old – have been alive today because you have been here to hear them.
Your task is now to keep these stories alive by telling them to others!

Of course, if you do tell some of the stories you have met through me, either at a performance or from this website, I’d love to hear from you. So mail to tell me which you are telling.

Go here for tales to watch

Go here for a list of all tales included on this site

Go here to receive an e-mail notification when new tales are added

Want to tell on of these tales? Permission to tell outlines my views on copyright

You are a teacher? Read this: Telling stories in the classroom: basing language teaching on storytelling