Snail Tales began on 7th July 2007, when Amy Robinson – whilst studying for her PGCE – realised that children were most engaged whenever she told an oral story. In partnership with her friend Chip Colquhoun, Amy laid down a vision for an organisation that would share the art of storytelling with others – and encourage them to start telling too.
Amy and Chip's storytelling prowess and experience developed quickly – as did their use of other arts such as puppetry, ventriloquism and songwriting. By 2009, they had developed a series of workshops for primary schools with Arts Council funding that would later form the basis of their research with the EU Lifelong Learning Programme in 2013.
By that same year, they had also produced their first of five family touring productions, also with Arts Council funding, and begun working with many other talented storytellers and artists on an exciting variety of heritage, education, and theatrical projects.
These days, Snail Tales is most famous for three things. First, it produces family storytelling shows with an insatiably high level of audience participation, even in development (every theatre show, including The First King of England... in a Dress!, contains stories created by children aged 7–11).
Second, in 2011 Amy and Chip became the face of the Oxford Reading Tree's Traditional Tales series, recording their storytelling as part of free online resource materials that made their fun versions of stories such as "Little Red Hen" and "The Big Carrot" renowned around the world.
And finally, Snail Tales has taken the lead in developing projects to find quantitative support for the benefits of storytelling in education. The first of these, funded by the EU Lifelong Learning Programme in 2013, was referenced by UK Minister of State for Schools Nick Gibb MP during National Storytelling Week 2016, and is now being developed further with the support of the Diocese of Ely and the University of Cambridge.
Explore this website to see how you could bring a Snail Tales storyteller into your theatre, event, business or school!
Click here to find out more about oral storytelling.
In addition to her work founding Snail Tales, Amy is the children's worker for her benefice. She has written 3 books on puppetry and storytelling (produced by Kevin Mayhew Publishers) and regularly provides scripts and materials for GenR8, a Cambridgeshire charity running free Christian assemblies and events in schools. Her spare time is spent writing poetry and attempting novels. She lives in a Rectory in Suffolk with the Rector, two children, two guinea pigs, and too many puppets to count.
Since co-founding Snail Tales with Amy, Chip has performed in 7 countries, directed numerous heritage and theatrical productions, and written the EU guide to storytelling in schools. His other works include Cambridgeshire Folk Tales for Children and Who Made England?: the Saxon/Vikings Race to Create a Country, both published by The History Press; and also A Little Sport in Littleport, published by Babylon Arts. He also presents Life of the People for the Museum of English Rural Life. He lives with his partner Emma and kitten Tito.
After 10 years as a KS2 teacher, Jane became the Arts Advisor for South Cambs primary schools. In 1993 she began working independently, helping to develop History Off The Page. She tutors in primary art and drama at the University of Cambridge, and is the author of several books and work packs on practical arts teaching. Jane's first published stories were for the BBC's Play School. She now lives in Cambridge and is currently touring Daddy's Diaries, her latest one-woman show based on her father's war journals.