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 a cutting-edge performance style that bridges ancient oral tradition, poetic narrative 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 version of her 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. She is the American representative of Tellers Without Borders (originated in Germany). She continues to work in Haiti presently supporting Girls Write Haiti: a Creativity for Change endeavor.
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. Most recently her well loved children’s recordings have been reissued by Better Listen under the title: THE KING OF TOGO TOGO.
Laura is a spokesperson for the healing properties of oral tradition. She is a longstanding board member of the Healing Story Alliance; a member of the Therapeutic Arts Alliance of Manhattan and served as a consultant for ETSU Medical Schools CANCER STORIES. She performs and speaks at theaters, festivals, schools, symposiums, corporate events, museums, conferences and special events throughout the world. She has appeared in festivals in Denmark, Singapore, India, Romania, United Kingdom, Poland, India, Norway, Republic of China, Austria and more. 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 ten times.
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 conducted TIMOUN ESPERAYSON supporting women and children in a Camp in Port au Prince until its closure June 2014.
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. She was s a Senior Research Fellow for The International Peace Institute, Rutgers University Newark (under the auspices of UNESCO) until 2014. She was a co-facilitator for the NEXT GENERATION project of the Murie Center for the Environment, and served on the council of Stay Inspired.org.
Laura teaches ongoing storytelling workshops as performance and compassionate action, the medicine of storytelling, mindfulness-awareness meditation, and individual coaching. She has served three times as an artist-in-residence for the Lincoln Center Institute and has taught 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-seventh year. AT present the Residency takes place in NYC and in Cae Mabon, Wales. Recently Laura initiated a long-distance mentor program: the Preparation of the Engaged Storyteller.
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), recently reissued with additonal stories. In the fall of 2003, she wrote the stories for 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’s is writing a new book THE SANCTUARY OF A STORY: Girls Heal from Abuse with Story. It is nearly ready for publication
Laura founded the Gaindeh Project, 1995 – 2006, 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; rehoming all the animals. For three summers she ran a Roma children’s camp in the zoo.