How to create a storytelling show!

Over the next few weeks we are going to be creating a brand new production from scratch, so will be posting some blogs on the process that we go through from idea to performance.

So you have a great story in mind – maybe from a book, a story you once heard or purely from your imagination….

The one we hope to work on is a legend from the Bambara people of Mali. It is of the Tyi Wara/ Chiwara (spellings differ) and is an incredibly powerful story of a hero who came to teach the Bambara people how to farm their land and live successfully. It is loaded with messages concerning the environment, the benefits of working and making the most of social cooperation. It is a beautiful story and with so much magical mythology and potency, we are incredibly excited about how to go about creating a performance of it.

We would like to collaborate this time, ideally with a musician (who can play traditional Malian instruments like the kora and ngoni) and a contemporary dancer (although one rooted in West African dance preferably)

So we have the basic idea and our wonderful Claire Footitt is busily making sure that our pitch is perfect and the funders can see the benefits of touring this show around Scotland. In the mean time, I am working on a few questions … and deciding on the chronology. Do we go from traditional beginning to end or do we play with the choreography? Do we work with three or more or less? Use of multimedia?

This is definitely the most exciting part of the creation because there are so many ways this could go. If you are at the same stage then let your imagination go crazy. Most of your ideas will be quickly swept away, because they probably won’t fit logistically or they just be a tad silly ๐Ÿ™‚ Nevertheless, keep plugging away and explore the impossible because sometimes the strangest ideas are often the best. So here we are at the lovely bit. Will keep you posted on where we end up next ๐Ÿ˜‰

Good luck story creating and let us know what kinds of stories you are up to.

Toto love

Mara x


About TotoTales

Toto Tales brings African stories to life through the arts. We find and create incredible, inspiring, heart warming, tragic, humorous stories from across Africa, and share them with a variety of audiences across the world. We collaborate with various artists and strive to produce high quality works that while simple are far from being simplistic.
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4 Responses to How to create a storytelling show!

  1. “From idea to performance” – love it.

    My joy is to find ‘the fascinating’ in business and storify it.

    Using your “creating a storytelling show”, I could say I create multimedia storytelling blogs for business: building suspense, drama and mystery to keep the target audience coming back for more. I agree that the ideas-generating bit at the beginning is the most fun, EVER!

    Seeing the “I can do that” light dawn in their eyes when they realise there is a rich seam of storytelling gold in the heart of every company – is the zenith of my job. Thanks for the ideas, Mara

    • TotoTales says:

      Fin, you are a gem. Thanks for such a beautiful post. I absolutely agree..the agony of the mystery and they love you for it! I remember childhood bedtime and those looooong stories that would take days/weeks to finish. The dreaded moment of ‘that’s enough for tonight, we’ll hear the rest tomorrow’. We’d beg and plead and after a cruel refusal, would wait with anxious breath for tomorrow’s bedtime. Memories!

  2. Anonymous says:


    sent you a message via facebook: I sing in bambara and play camem ngoni; and been living in mali on and off since 2006; will be teaching my community choir a wedding song from mali this term also :

    Look forward to hearing from you:


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