The hunger for stories is considerable. People are starving for them. The reason stories are not listened to is that the story making is not a rational process. You can’t go to school, as people pretend, and learn how to write a story. You can’t learn it because it comes out of the totality of the human spirit.
—Sir Laurens Van der Post


30th Laura Simms Storytelling Residency

The River’s Bend Retreat Center

13 – 19 July  2018   Philo, California


The preparation of a story and oneself for the living reciprocity of engaged storytelling is at once spontaneous and extremely disciplined. In today’s world of unprecedented events and challenges, the role of authentic storytelling is urgently needed.  The Laura Simms Storytelling Residency, now in its 30th year, supports storytellers of all levels, and those committed to the uses of narrative in healing, education, ecology and mediation.  It is a step by step approach that works with presence, voice, embodied language, the structure and diverse meanings of a story (for each individual and in communion with other)  and the senses. We each work deeply on a story of our choice (whether personal or traditional) for six days.  Working in this way we reap the benefits of what each of us learns from our particular story.


For those dedicated to going deeper, expanding capacity for performance, deep listening, spontaneous language, and embodied presence it is unequalled. It is helpful for those who are beginning and those who have been telling stories for a long time or using storytelling in education, healing, peacemaking, presentations, leadership, community, and transformation.


regform(5_15_18).pdfTo register for the residency please select and download the pdf REGISTRATION FORM (to the left).
The completed form maybe emailed to:

or mailed to:
Laura Simms Studio, 814 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

” I’ve studied with some of the most famous storytellers in the country, and I have to say Laura sets the bar high above everyone else. She brings deep presence, spirit and love to her teaching and performances. She is a truly great teacher.”  Mark Horn


“We need stories like water
this year feels important, even urgent, as a time to deepen our understanding and skills for working with engaged storytelling as compassionate action in our lives and in the world. Every year the Residency is one of my favorite times. We open up the story within the traditional story that not only reveals instructions for life, but profoundly inspires our personal stories to come forth with heightened significance. I hope you can join us. ”

“I loved the combination of meditation, physical movement, and intense work on one story. Every story I’ve chosen has revealed something completely unexpected about me, about it, and about the world.”
—Colin McNaughton, MI





Friday August 24 – Sunday August 26, 2018

call  212 674 3479 for RSVP  ($250 includes lunches) limited to 10

The retreat is a restorative storytelling lab. EAch person brings a story they are working on and we work together to uncover deeper significance, and increase our storytelling skills.  If you want to improve your storytelling or want to work nore deeply on a particular piece this is a great weekend.


The performance of a storyteller is unique among narrative arts. The challenge of the teller is strengthening abiding presence, and increasing a realization of how a story has meaning in the enertic space between teller and listeners. Awakening this level of engagement and attunement  requires skills in dynamic embodied language, deep listening, intuition and compassion, as well as an understanding of how the structure and meaning of a story manifests in the reciprocity of the event.  Each participant brings a traditional story to work with: shorter fairy tales, pieces of epic, myth, or a great folktale is best. We will move through a process of preparing a story for an engaged performance.

ABOUT LAURA SIMMS -  Few storytellers today have developed a way of teaching that strengthens the specific skills of an engaged storyteller. Laura has been performing, teaching and coaching for the last 45 years worldwide. She is a senior teacher in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of meditation and the psychology of mindfulness awareness practice. She combines both experiences with a heightened awareness of performance as ritual and spontaneous oral poetry. In the last fifteen years she has designed projects in deep listening, transformative education and healing. Laura UnlockingLaura has been the student of traditional Native American elder Vi Hilbert and has studied with Joseph Campbell,The Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and  Pema Chodron. She often teaches with naturalist  writer Terry Tempest Williams, and her son author Ishmael Beah (ex child soldier).  She conducts workshops for NGO’s working in the aftermath of conflict and natural disaster. Laura works with large group trainings but in all instances teaches tailor made programs for her constituents and works individually, when possible.  She created and led the Storytelling Residency for 27 years in Northern California; was a Senior Research Fellow at the Urban Peace Institute for Rutgers University and  has an ongoing long distance mentor program to help prepare storytellers (in all fields) to work with story in the reciprocity of living presence. Her teaching is unforgettable, profound and its benefits are enduring.


“I came away with a heightened reverence for the gifts that stories and their teller have to offer the world, and how hungry the world is to receive them.” Milbre Burch, NC

“In and amongst the learning that revealed itself for months later, the laughter and spontaneous love that springs from intense ‘communal’ times, there was indeed transformation” Helena Kaufman, Canada

“Our day of performance was like no other I have ever experienced…it was the most holy human expression I have ever had the joy of participating in!” Terralea Allen, WA

“I love the combination of meditation, physical movement, and intense work on one story. Every story I’ve chosen has revealed something completely unexpected about me, about it, and about the world.” Colin McNaughton, MI

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