\What is Storytelling\Theater Lab?

What does Storytelling\Theater Lab stand for?

The Storytelling\Theater Lab is a production laboratory for theatre performances made by (semi) professional theatre makers with a culturally diverse background. We take the use of storytelling as a starting point.

Every year we produce three to four projects, one or two 'full evening' performances and one project with several short performances (portraits). Moreover, every year we make one (small) international co-production, because we find it important to share the knowledge we develop here with other theatre makers elsewhere in the world. In addition, we started the ID CLUB in September 2019 in order to offer (advanced) amateurs the chance to get started with their stories.

The artistic direction of Storytelling\Theater Lab is in the hands of Arjen Barel.

What does storytelling theatre mean?


Storytelling is an interactive form of performing art. It is a form of art and communication that creates internal images in the listener's imagination, rather than showing or dramatising visible images. Traditional storytelling is an open and direct two-way communication between the narrator and the audience, and it allows interaction between those present.

It often involves one storyteller, whether or not accompanied by a musician.

But there are also more and more other forms of storytelling, in which the power of stories is preserved but the form is more exciting. This is mostly about the theatricalisation of the work, in which authenticity remains paramount. Music often plays an important role in this, going beyond accompaniment. The music demands a role, gives colour to the story, supports it, but sometimes also tells its own story.

Within our vision, these are the most important characteristics of storytelling theatre:

  • The performer is also the author of the performance. In the case of a narrative based on an autobiographical story, this is easy to explain. But even when working with existing stories, it is the performer who chooses which stories he wants to tell and knows why he wants to share precisely these stories.

  • The performer does not transform into a character. It may well be that he puts on the shoes of one the characters from a story for a while, but the overall story is told from his own being. This is where storytelling theatre distinguishes itself from a monologue.

  • There is always direct interaction with the audience. This interaction can take many different forms, but always ensures that there is a mutual and open communication - between storyteller and audience. They are located in one theatrical and mental space and are therefore not separated by the so-called fourth wall. In this sense storytelling is a team sport!

  •  The role of the director in storytelling theatre is smaller than it usually is in the theatre. Making a tight staging or working on role conceptions and filling in characters does not fit in with the natural form. This makes the director more of a coach, who supervises the performer and provides him with feedback. The task of the dramaturge (who can also be united in the role of the director) is also an important one. He or she works together with the performer on the line of a performance and provides more or less guidance.

The method of developing texts during the work process described above is extremely suitable for incorporating personal stories into the performances. The material is often the performer himself or herself. This does not mean that other stories have no place in storytelling theatre. Existing stories (folk tales, legends, myths, fairy tales) are often very suitable for placing current themes in a (metaphorical) context. 


Flexibility is another important feature of our performances. We want to make sure that their concept is simple, so that they fit almost everywhere. Theatres are always suitable, but ideally it is also possible to play in other rooms, with or without theatre light, with or without advanced sound equipment (although unassisted playing is always preferred). By the way, in storytelling theatre, because of the connection the performer wants to make with his audience, a certain intimacy is nice. We prefer to play for halls with a maximum of 250 spectators, and a somewhat smaller number is often even better.