Alan Steel

Book Alan Steel

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Alan Steel collects and tells traditional tales and ‘stories of place’ from Scotland and elsewhere, with his core material exploring the dilemmas and challenges people of all ages must face. Trickster tales are his favourite as they’re fun to tell, quite gritty and there’s always scope for comic fantasy.

He has thematic story sets on bullying, alcohol management, disability rights, men’s health, gender politics, self-help, problem-solving, management, and workplace issues. He has worked extensively with children with special educational needs and enjoys storytelling with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Alan sometimes uses big pictures and large, simple maps when storytelling, which help children write themselves into the story. He also has a large, flat-packed castle with a set of characters which the children can move around. Alan has worked with all ages except babies, and likes audiences which ‘resist’ storytelling. They are often adults, more often teenagers, and kids who’ve had a difficult day, as Alan states: ‘They’re people who don’t like to be taken for granted. You have to engage with them, and that’s a good start to a story session.’ Like many others, his storytelling began with bedtime tales, and the stories just grew up with the children.

Alan is a historian and his storytelling changed direction one night when he discarded his lecture notes and wove together a history of the surrounding valley from neglected folk tales, stories he’d recorded from local people, and the fragmentary lives of long-forgotten folk whose stories demanded to be told. Alan’s favourite locations are classrooms, libraries, nursery schools, story walks, conferences, and after-school clubs, but he has a soft spot for demanding environments. These have included buses, trains, under a pub table, up a tree, in a corridor, and during committee meetings and AGMs.

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