The Ribbon Maiden

The storyteller

John Row is a veteran of the UK festival scene and a familiar figure at the Glastonbury Festival Kidz Field and Cambridge Folk Festival, where he’s been performing for nearly thirty years. He cut his teeth as a stage performer at the Ipswich Arts Theatre on free Monday night shows where his late wife Rose, was a theatre electrician, with Nick Toczeck in the poetry and music review Stereo Graffiti in the 70s and as an open air performer in the East Anglian Albion Fairs in the 80s. He added storytelling to his bow as the 80s drew to a close and was immediately drawn into a world of magic and wonder. He has shared that world in a mishmash of settings from prisons (he was the first storyteller in residence in a British prison) to schools across the world. His annual visits to Vienna in the first decade of this century, saw him tell stories to thousands of kindergarten children as they struggled to come to grips with English as an additional language. A crowd at the Algiers Book Fair listened, enthralled, to him speaking in what was for some their fourth language and he has become a favourite in the schools near Colibita in Transylvania, where he has a house which he uses as a writing retreat. He has told stories from Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei in the east, Lapland in the north, Sharjah in the Middle East, as well as Texas, North Africa and all across Europe. Recently he’s been collecting stories in Romania, leading an oral storytelling project in prisons, performing in schools and pootling from festival to festival. John co-founded the World Storytelling Cafe, an online initiative to connect storytellers to audiences and to each other, during the Coronavirus pandemic.

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