Joanna is a poet and storyteller whose work explores myth, fairy tale and ecology.
She is interested in how word-dreaming can explore our relationship to the wild-existent world, and how reforged, collective stories can revoice our place within our transforming planet.
Joanna has a PhD in fairy tales, shapeshifting and eco-fairy tales from the University of Chichester. She teaches storytelling at StoryCommons, and is founder of the Storytelling Choir, a radical collective of storytellers exploring the multiple history and forgotten complexity of our fairy tales.
As a queer storyteller, she's passionate about reforging our stories to explore forgotten fluidities and unspoken kinships.
As a mother and teacher she is interested in the anchor work of stories - how they can introduce us to the world, and help us to comprehend our worlds and our kinships.
And as a ritualist and poet, she explores how stories can be enacted to invoke patterns of community change and renewal.
Joanna is co-editor of The World Treasury of Fairy Tales and Folklore, published by Wellfleet Press in 2016. She has lectured in fairy tales and children's literature in Charles University, Prague, and the University of Chichester.
She has performed stories at schools, castles, universities, woods and fields across Europe. Organizations she has worked for include
the Goddess Lounge, the Chichester Centre for Folklore and Fairy Tales, ONCA Centre for Arts and Ecology, Brighton Storytellers, London Dreamtime, the Dark Mountain Project, Anderida Gorsedd, the Scottish Pagan Federation and Stour Valley Arts. Her poems and performances have been described as “spell-binding”, “breath-taking”, “astonishing” and “a gift.”
On Sleeping Beauties, with the Storytelling Choir...
A magical piece of online theatre, enchanting and riveting.
They are weavers of words, crafting new perspectives as those before have done; passing stories down through generations.
From audience members:
There are almost no words for how marvellous the evening was.
we were transfixed and enchanted
On Previous Performances
Recently I had the good fortune to sit in audience at a Dark Mountain story telling event where the delightful Joanna Gilar captivated us with her wonderfully haunted rendition of an old classic. She held the floor with such magnificent poise and had us all bound up magically in her tale of adventure, misfortune and redemption. You could hear a pin drop! I hope I get another chance to be woven into her story telling spell again some time in the near future.
~ Seani Love, participant at Tailspin’s “Night of the Storyteller” at the Russet, London.
On Becoming Animal, a workshop series that ran in schools across Sussex.
This course showed me how the world is really around me.
I thought this project was amazing fun, and it has definitely changed the way I think about the environment.
I enjoyed this project very much. I especially liked playing with words to achieve different animal perspectives.
I thought this project was an amazing opportunity and if I was asked to do something like this again, then I would definitely. I LOVED performing the play.
This project was very fun and exciting. I liked every bit of it. It’s made me think about how animals are unique in their own way, and how they have their own opinions. It also showed us how not all animals live in paradise and they have to tackle pollution like we do.