Laura Simms is an award-winning storyteller, recording artist, teacher, writer and humanitarian based in New York City.
Remarkable performances of traditional stories interwoven with personal narrative have earned Laura Simms worldwide recognition and honors since 1968. Laura has created an irresistible cutting-edge performance style that bridges ancient oral tradition and performance art. Her storytelling is meaningful and uncannily entertaining. Her warmth, depth of understanding, profound effect on listeners, diverse material, humor, dynamic voice and range of characterizations have achieved legendary status.
Laura creates concert performances for adults and family audiences. She brings her expertise to collaborative projects worldwide exploring social issues, peacemaking, healing, education, creativity and community dialogue. Her work has varied from serving as artist-in-residence at universities to creating original theater-dance works; co-designing a playground based on a fairytale; saving a zoo as a community and compassion endeavor in Romania; to working in conflict resolution and peace making with refugees and displaced persons. She is presently working on a new training process and workbook for those effected by natural disaster, conflict and war. As recipient of the Brimstone Award for Applied Storytelling (2010) she developed this work in Nepal, Winnipeg, Romania, Austria and New York City.
In 1979, Weston Woods Studio produced the first storytelling and music record featuring Laura’s stories. She has gone on to record exquisite collections of stories with music that have dazzled adults and children alike including Women and Wild Animals, Making Peace, The Gift of Dreams, Four-Legged Tales, Moon on Fire, and others.
Laura is a spokesperson for the healing properties and meaning of oral tradition at theaters, festivals, schools, symposiums, corporate events, museums, conferences and special events throughout the world. Most recently, she has appeared in festivals in Romania, United Kingdom, Poland, India, Norway, Republic of China and Austria. She has been featured at A Traveling Jewish Theater in San Francisco, New York’s Provincetown Theater and the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesboro, Tennessee.
Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti Laura has devoted herself to training health workers and educators to use narrative in healing. She has worked with IMC (International Medical Corps), Mercy Corps inc., and most recently partnered with Photographer Paula Allen to support women and children in a Camp in Port au Prince.
In these times of increased insecurity and change, few storytellers worldwide have engaged mythic storytelling for individual and community transformation with Laura’s expansive vision. She has long been committed to spirituality, healing, education, women’s issues, human rights and working with children. In 1999, Laura won the Sesame Street Sunny Days Award for her contribution to children of the world and has received many awards for her books, tapes and projects. She is a senior teacher with The New York Shambhala Center, The Sterling Foundation, the Center for Story at the Leonardo (Salt Lake City), and was a Fellow at the Arthur Mauro Peace and Justice Center of the University of Manitoba. Presently, she is a Senior Research Fellow for The International Peace Institute, Rutgers University Newark (under the auspices of UNESCO). She was a co-facilitator for the NEXT GENERATION project of the Murie Center for the Environment. And she is on the councils of Stay Inspired.org and The Therapeutic Arts Alliance of Manhattan.
Laura teaches ongoing storytelling workshops as performance and as social action, story and healing, meditation, and individual coaching. She has served three times as an artist-in-residence for the Lincoln Center Institute and teaches at the University of Milwaukee, New York University and The Naropa University. She directs the foremost Storytelling Residency in the United States, now in its twenty-fifth year. Recently Laura initiated a long-distance mentor program.
As a writer and editor, Laura has written and served as contributing editor for Parabola Magazine since 1996. After 9/11, she spearheaded the publication of Stories to Nourish the Hearts of Children in a Time of Crisis (Holland & Knight), and in the fall of 2003, created A Key to the Heart and Other Afghan Tales (Chocolate Sauce) to benefit children’s education in Afghanistan. In 2003, she designed the book and training, Becoming The World (Mercy Corps, Inc.) It continues to serve thousands of humanitarian workers, healers and teachers worldwide in addressing issues of tolerance and resilience. Her most recent adult titles are THE ROBE OF LOVE: Secret Instructions for the Heart (Codhill Press) and OUR SECRET TERRITORY: The Essence of Storytelling (Sentient Books). These titles and more can be purchased from the Marketplace
Laura founded Gaindeh Project, an international initiative using storytelling, creativity, meditation and reconciliation for individuals and communities. In her role as director of Gaindeh Projects, Laura worked in Romania to teach storytelling skills to orphans and gypsy mothers. The Lions Roar saved a zoo in Romania and rehomed all the animals.