I started storytelling in 1999 in response to sudden, but not total, sight loss. Since then I have become an award-winning storyteller (details below) who just happens to be the UK’s only professional blind storyteller. Here are some of the things I’ve been up to since then:

Storytelling

My repertoire includes Iron-Age myth from British and Norse traditions, Greek myths, folk tales from around the world. All can be told in traditional style or with a more modern twist. I also create original and bespoke storytelling from historical sources and for site-specific venues.

I am the Storyteller in Residence at the Last Tuesday Society where I tell stories for adults in the magical, macabre and intimate setting of the Viktor Wynd Museum Of Curiosities, Hackney, London, on the second Sunday of every month.

I am a regular at storytelling and literature festivals, frequently performing at festivals such as Festival At The Edge, Beyond The Border, Whitby Folk Week, Westcountry, Sting In The Tale and the Birmingham, Warwick and Oxford Literature Festivals. I have performed at many other venues in the UK and internationally for both adult and child audiences. For more information, please sign up to my newsletter.

Between 2006 and 2012 I was the Storyteller In Residence at Chelsea Community Hospital Schools, making weekly visits to tell stories in groups or 1:1 with young patients in the classroom, at bedsides and in intensive care and burns units.

I work extensively in schools, many with high rates of ESL students, using storytelling to help children unlock their creativity, gain confidence and increase their literacy skills. For more information about what I do and how I do it, please click here.

Voice Work

In 2005, I graduated with a Masters in Voice Studies at Central School of Speech and Drama. This not only helped me personally with my storytelling but enabled me to help others find their potential. From 2006 – 2012, I was the Lecturer in Voice, Birkbeck College, London, where I devised and taught the syllabi for two acting course and from 2007 – 2010 I taught voice on the Foundation Acting courses as a sessional Lecturer at Arts Ed., London. I am currently running SlengTeng an accent softening course at University College London. I also run public courses on vocal confidence, presentation, accent softening and professional storytelling skills including at venues such as Birmingham Book Week, Warwick Words and Society for Storytelling.

Professional Training

Since 2005, I have devised bespoke training packages for companies using voice training, storytelling and rhetorical composition skills to transform clients’ effectiveness in spoken and written communication. In 2012, I co-founded the consultancy The Academy Of Oratory with Leon Conrad. Together we devise workshops in professional communication skills drawing on our skills as Voice Teachers, Storytellers, writers and Rhetoricians. Clients have included:

Air Products Ltd, BP, Groundwork Trust, Commerzbank, HSBC, Red Bull, ITV, LSIS, Mindshare, Fox International Channels, Star Consultancy, Z/Yen

Other Work

In 2009, I became RNIB AudioBook Services first blind narrator. For their Talking Book Service, I have recorded numerous novels and poems. Twice a year, I record their RNIB Legacy Services Magazine, Foresight.

Awards and Commissions

  • 2016 Imagine Children’s Festival, London – Story Mayhem, story making workshop for visually impaired children

  • 2016 Kathakar International Storytellers Festival, Delhi – Invited as part of a British delegation to perform stories for adults and children

  • 2016 British Council – Kolkata Literature Festival and an 11 day tour of India working with schools and training teachers

  • 2014-15 Arts Council England – “Tongues Of Flame”, national tour, storytelling devised from historical data, the life of Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton (b. 1821 d. 1890)

  • 2014 South London Botanical Institute – “AO Hume, a life” storytelling about life of SLBI founder

  • 2013 Information Age Gallery, The Science Museum – consultancy and youth-work to find narrative structure, devise content, to guide visitors through “the largest and most ambitious Science Museum project of the last ten years”

  • 2013 BASE Awards – “Caught On The Horns” shortlisted for Best Storytelling Performance 2013

  • 2012 Disability Arts Cymru, Olympic Commission – “Breaking The Wall”, narrative poetry, two scripts (one solo voice, one choral), recorded by BBC Wales Symphonia, performed by UCAN and toured in Wales

  • 2011 British Museum – “Treasures Of The Saints”, family storytelling, devising and performing

  • 2010 British Museum – “A History Of The World In 100 Objects”, family storytelling, devising and performing

  • 2008, 2009, 2014 Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew – family storytelling on the theme of trees, devising and performing

  • 2008 Arts Council for Baluji Srivastav – “Song Celestial”, to write poetic text based on Bhagavad Gita, then tour nationally with band, singing and reciting in English and Sanskrit

  • 2007 Dubasha Foundation – devise and deliver six week storytelling workshop syllabus to celebrate bilingual heritage of 3rd generation Gujarati children

  • 2007 BT Speaking and Listening Award conferred for project above

  • 2004 Arts Council England – “See Through Mouth”, a storytelling tour of hotels owned by Action For Blind People

Education/Professional Qualifications:

  • 2004-5 MA, Voice Studies, Central School of Speech and Drama

  • 1999 Counselling Skills in the Development of Learning, Calderdale College

  • 1996 NCTJ Post-Graduate Diploma, Journalism, Camborne College

  • 1991-3 BA (MA Oxon.) English Language and Literature, St Catherine’s College, Oxford

Radio Appearances include:

Saturday Live with Aasmah Mir and the Reverend Richard Coles

Midweek with Libby Purves

In Touch with Peter White

Click here for more media.

Click here to download my CV.

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13 thoughts on “My Biography

  1. Hello,
    I’m a graduate student at San Francisco State University here in California, attempting to acquire a masters degree in teaching for the visually impaired. I have to do a research project where I have to design and complete a research proposal and my focus is on oral stories told by kids who are blind or visually impaired. Beyond that theme, I’m not really sure what I’m doing. The story would reveal the child’s level of concept development. Perhaps I could compare the types of stories children who are visually impaired would tell with those told by their sighted peers? What about self-esteem and joy? I could survey the kids before and after their story telling??? Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

    1. hello David – thank you for getting in touch and I wish you luck with this project.
      Re “feeling good” there is ample hard evidence that hearing a story boosts the hormone oxytocin, which is basically the feel-good hormone. You can find plenty of stuff about that online.
      I wonder though if you might find it interesting to look at the different memory techniques that blind of vi listeners use? I’m aware of this because I’m very aware, since my sight got so foggy, that I find it very hard to make new, clear memories, because my memory is still predominantly visual (my sight went wrong when I was 25). However, I believe (don’t know) that people who grow up without sight use parts of their brain which would have been occupied with processing visual data for memory instead, because they need it. Imagine a child learning how to set a table for dinner – they can look to see if they’ve forgotten anything. A blind kid has to systematically remember. And they do.
      So, if you research how sighted children remember stories (predominantly by seeing pictures) and then how blind kids do it, you’d have a very interesting study in how the mind can learn and even learn to learn. Blind people have been prized for their memory and there are numerous traditions of blind tellers worldwide.
      Does this help?

      Giles :{~

  2. Dear Giles, I heard you on R4 at the weekend and was transfixed by your voice. I couldn’t get out of the car until the show had finished! I am definitely going to try and make it along to the Last Tuesday Soc! Do you have a list of/link to any audio recordings available to buy? Thanks and looking forward to hearing you again soon! Katie Yates

    1. Hi Katie – I’m glad you enjoyed the story.
      You can buy a copy “Deirdre Of The Sorrows” here
      http://store.kagi.com/cgi-bin/store.cgi?storeID=6FHTW_LIVE&&

      “Deirdre” was a solo commission for Festival At The Edge. For each of the three parts of the story you download you get a short story thrown in free so make sure you scroll down the whole email that you’ll get after purchasing.
      I hope you like it, and please let me know if you do/don’t.

      Giles ;{~

  3. Dear Giles,

    I just heard you for the second time on R4, and it really inspired me! You have a great voice and storytelling ability, I seem to be a fan! Is there a mailing list I can join? I’m particularly interested in finding out if you have performances in the north…

    Beat wishes,

    Sylvy

    1. Hi Sylvy – thank you for comment. Yes, I do have a mailing list. if you subscribe to my blog at http://gilesabbott.com/blog/ then you get to hear public gig info. Later today I shall be blogging to announce three gigs in Yorkshire and one in Derbyshire, all in June!
      I don’t know what you mean by “the North”. The North is quite big!

      G ;{~

  4. You brought Alexander Pope to life in your performance at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday. You’d obviously done a lot of research, which must be difficult if you are visually impaired. You did a great job! You could hear a pin drop while you were performing. Thank you so much.

    1. Thank you Carol! Yes, doing the research was very difficult! Not as hard as it used to be to access text as ebooks, which have adjustable font sizes, mean far more texts are accessible than was the case when my sight went in 1998. But the research and composition were intrinsically had, hardest piece I’ve created. So your comment is VERY gratefully received!

      best wishes

      Giles ;{~

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