HIRING A STORYTELLER: BASICS 101

TouchtheStars. c2008

Sometimes people decide, “Hey, let’s get somebody to tell stories!” They often have no clue as to what is needed in presenting a quality storytelling experience. The first question to ask is “why do I want a storyteller?” Having a clear rationale will help you convey exactly what you need from the storyteller and improve the entire experience.’You mean I have to pay?!” Storytellers, like other performers, usually charge for the services they render. The following prices cover the range from experienced to national name. The storyteller researches, learns, and perfects their art in the same manner that dancers or musicians do. In addition, differing ages require different levels and types of stories. Many hours of prep work proceed any storytelling event.

A survey of artists currently working (in Oklahoma and elsewhere) reveals full performance of 40-60 minutes usually costs about $100 to $1500, plus mileage or transportation /meals/board.

A short performance of about 20-30 minutes usually costs $50-$550, plus mileage (etc.).

Delivery of one story under 20 minutes is about $25-$100…

Sometimes the cost is negotiable – depending on the situation – always ask.

Storytelling has space needs just as unique as a dance troupe. Storytellers usually need smaller, intimate spaces, or if larger spaces are used, there must be sound and few distractions. Storytelling is a most ancient form of communication and functions best when the teller and the listener can connect free of noise or too many distractions. Some water bottles handy, and space between sets of stories (if telling to numerous groups) are always a plus!

Places to NOT place a storyteller: near a music band, animals, machinery, a noisy bar or eating space. There is one well remembered horror story in OKC a few years back where a major venue placed its storytellers in the bar tent and every story was interrupted as beer bottles crashed into the trash can near the staging space, ice poured in glasses, and orders were taken.

Need a storyteller for a children’s event? Sometimes the local public library can partner their children’s professional to schools, daycares, etc. to read or share oral stories as part of a community outreach or literacy support. That is usually a free service – but requires advance planning to allow release time for the professional.

–M.A. Hudson, 2008

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