Polly Tisdall

Bristol-based theatre maker and traditional storyteller. Experienced performer, director, facilitator and narrative consultant. Fascinated by the unplanned, the imperfect and the handmade.

My work focuses on creating genuine, spontaneous connection between audiences and performers and on bringing stories into existence in the shared space between the two. Each performance is a co-creation, made with those particular people at that particular time. Based on an oral tradition, it is never the same twice. My work, whether as director, storyteller or arts practitioner, stands on the shoulders of folklore, gets its hands dirty in the present and keeps its eyes on the future: it refuses to look the other way. At heart it is authentic, imperfect and handmade.

I began directing work in 2008 and have been making my living from my practice since 2010. In 2011 I was named Young Storyteller of the Year at the national competition and have since had the privilege of performing in schools, community settings, museums, theatres, festivals and internationally: telling stories to adults, children, young people and groups with additional needs. Meanwhile my directing work has encompassed national touring, participatory community projects, site-specific work in shop windows and botanical gardens, spoken word and circus projects and commissioning new writing. As Resident Director at Oxford Playhouse and Magdalen College School 2014-15, I have considerable experience of creating theatre with young people.

I combine my storytelling practice and theatre practice in creating work with my own company, Rambling Heart. The company explores how the intimacy, accessibility and spontaneity of folk storytelling can be combined with theatre: challenging conventional forms and seeding new audiences for both disciplines.

I apply my artistic practice in diverse non-arts contexts and particularly within higher education and the charity sector. I am passionate about embedding creative approaches in organisations and particularly in using storytelling and theatre-based tools to improve communications, reflection and staff empowerment: bringing about positive change.

My work has previously been funded by Arts Council England, the British Council, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust.

I am currently completing a year long course in Practical Sustainability with Shift, Bristol: imagining a future theatre which is rooted in the land and responds to the needs of our planet.