John Kirk is a storyteller and drama facilitator specialising in drama workshops and theatre for young people.Many academics believe, “the attention span of a child is there age plus two minutes”.  In teenagers and adults this apparently maxes out at about 20-40 minutes but by this point in life we are able to refocus on tasks which mean we can do things for longer periods of time (ie watch films).

This rationale is very useful to anyone working with children and young people.  It helps to determine how long a participant can stay on task, how long it will be until they will need further stimulation or how long you have before distraction (in some cases) leads to disruption.

Sadly some experts believe that with the development of technology people’s attention spans are decreasing.  In a world of high speed information, full of fast moving colour and sound some things seem slow.

I was recently introduced to the idea of FOMO (Fear of missing out).  It’s a concept that explains the need to be hooked up to technology 24/7 and explains anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers of a need to teach younger and younger children the dangers of technology and in-school technology agreements (the class are allowed to check their phones in plain sight rather than under the desk).

As a storyteller I have a fear of missing out and sometimes fell that I’m old school.  I’m all for technology but my medium of communication remains much more low tech.  I use the costumes and props I can carry in a suitcase to accentuate a story told using my voice and my body.  My devices are generally theatrical and not electronic.

Some work surfs the new media wave.  In the past year I have seen two striking pieces of work supported by The National Theatre.  “The Animals and Children went into the Streets” (1927) and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” (Mark Haddon).  Both incorporated multimedia boldly, combining sound, light and projection techniques to extraordinary effect.  For all the bells and whistles though , these pieces have brilliant storytelling by exceptional creative talent at their heart.

John Kirk is a storyteller and drama facilitator specialising in drama workshops and theatre for young people.At the same time as society embraces a new media revolution, nostalgia continues to infiltrate our culture with businesses offering us more and more vintage clothing, furniture, food and even experiences.  Perhaps this is a sub culture but it does point towards people yearning for something simpler.

Storytelling is embedded within our culture and I wholly believe in its value, power and legacy.  Exchanging stories is a privilege and when you work in front of a live audience the relationship is always special and different.  Storytelling is everywhere you look and I’m not suggesting that we are in danger of losing this most ancient of traditions.  I am questioning how this brand of live entertainment fits into a world where baby’s first book is a tablet computer.  Is oral storytelling with simple props and costumes enough of a reward for patience or is it too much effort?  Is radical innovation the key to engaging a digital generation?  We’ll have to see…


You can’t rewind this if you leave

its not for tablet or box set.

There’s no multi player function

and you cannot hit “Refresh”.


A tweet won’t do it justice

and neither will your lens.

If you put this onto Youtube

you’d spoil it for your friends.


My interface is wireless

and my network is offline.

My errors are unique

but my “selfie” is defined.


I share my profile everyday,

I’m low tech but compelling.

I may lack tricks but I’m still proud

of my storytelling.