Storyteller Directory Entry

Sef Townsend

Sef Townsend draws on his own personal experience of living and working on all five continents; and on reminiscence and language support work in immigrant and refugee communities to inform his workshops in participatory storytelling and music,as well as his own public performances.

Sef has been running Arts projects with people in exile and immigrant communities since 1995. Through storytelling, song and ‘join-in’ music games he emphasises the use of traditional material from the participants’ original backgrounds, and promotes work that enables other cultures to be seen as an invaluable resource contributing to a shared diversity in the wider community.

He has devised and presented several of his own radio programmes on traditional music and oral history including programmes for BBC Radio 3, Spectrum Radio and Radio 4’s “Woman’s Hour”

In his refugee and inter-generational work his main aims are to bring people together and to break down inhibitions; to increase self confidence and build cooperation, while being aware of the conflicts and stresses felt by people when being settled in a different culture.

Sef always encourages workshop participants to celebrate their differences as much as to enjoy the common experiences of sharing, creating and using the universal language of story & music.

Sef has worked in Mosques, Synagogues, Meeting Houses, Churches and many Interfaith and Cross-Cultural Projects where one of his favourite questions is to ask people which faith community they think the story comes from. So often people think that the Jewish story they have heard and enjoyed, is Islamic, or the Muslim story has a Christian message. They are often amazed when he tells them that the tradition it comes from is not what they thought. Their reply is often “that’s just like one of ours”… And, in a way, that’s half of what he’s trying to get across i.e. other people are just like us!

Recent work has taken him to China, Argentina and Chile, where, as well as telling in schools, or running workshops for teachers, he has continued first hand research into the stories of those quite remarkable countries.

For more information: www.seftownsend.co.uk

Home Region: London