Annual Storytelling Symposium: Storytelling and Mothers

03-04-2020 to 04-04-2020

Location: University of South Wales Atrium Campus

Audience: Public

Cost: £70/£35 two days • £35/£17.50 one day • Free (Children, Babies, Bursaries)

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The George Ewart Evans Centre for Storytelling invites you to participate in our annual symposium on the theme of Storytelling and Mothers. The symposium will feature keynote speakers, provocations, Q&A sessions, paper presentations, workshops, and performances.


Keynote: Helen Simpson (Author of; Four Bare Legs in a Bed (1990); Dear George (1995); Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (2000); Constitutional (2005); In-Flight Entertainment (2010); and Cockfosters (2015)).

Others speakers: Laura Godfrey Issacs (Artist, midwife and birth activist); Christine Watkins (Storyteller); Dr Roiyah Saltus (University of South Wales), Tracy Breathnach Evans (performance artist and researcher) and Dr Steve Killick (Clinical Psychologist, Trainer and Storyteller).

An evening of stories will be performed by Chwedl - the Women's storytelling network for Wales.

“I have never met a single mother (myself included) who is not far more complex, critical, at odds with the set of clichés she is meant to effortlessly embody, than she is being encouraged – or rather instructed – to think.” Jacqueline Rose writes in her book Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty (2018).

In this symposium we seek to place the mother centre stage, to question who and what a mother is, to allow them to tell their story, to explore their experience and to celebrate diverse maternal narratives beyond the clichés and stereotypes. Telling our own stories as and about mothers, or people who care, allows us to reconfigure our identity and to make sense of the personal and cultural narratives we find ourselves thrust into. Within the realm of stories, mothers are too often only deemed relevant insofar as they propel the main character into action. We are presented with mother figures as either wicked step-mother, benign but desperate caregiver, fairy godmother or abject and compelling ‘other’ from whom we have to psychically disentangle ourselves. In this symposium we instead consider both maternal experience as articulated through a multiplicity of different mother stories and the mother as protagonist.

This symposium is taking place as part of the Performance and the Maternal project, an 18 month research project led by Dr Emily Underwood-Lee (University of South Wales) and Dr Lena Šimić (Edge Hill University) with Georgina Briggs (Research Assistant, USW) supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. For more information visit Performance and the Maternal.

2020 Symposium costs

Price structure for paying delegates:

• Independent Artists / Practitioners / Individuals not supported by an instituition: Concession cost

• Academic / Public Attendees: Full cost

• Children and Babies: Free ( apcked lunch can be purchased for children at a cost of £5.50 - please book this when booking your child's ticket)

• Bursaries (see information about how to apply below)

Ticket Type Prices:

• £70/£35 two days

• £35/£17.50 one day

• Free (Children, Babies, Bursaries)

Costs include: attendance, coffee/tea and refreshments and a vegan buffet lunch on both days.


We are delighted to be able to offer five free tickets to Storytelling and Mothers to support attendance by those less able to afford the ticket price. The tickets are offered in exchange for a 1000 word write up about the Storytelling and Mothers symposium, which we may publish on our website. The write up can be a creative response to the themes and discussions at the symposium or a more traditional conference report. If you would like to apply for one of the five free tickets please request an application form from


  • Children and babies are welcome to attend Storytelling and Mothers but must be accompanied by an adult. Please book a free ticket for all accompanying children and babies

  • A free children’s workshop will be provided for children aged between 5 and 14 and a ticket should be booked in advance.

  • Children under five will need to stay with their adults during the symposium