Shonaleigh Cumbers is a drutsyla (storyteller) from the Yiddish oral tradition and a UK deputy national storytelling laureate. She has worked as a professional storyteller for the last 12 years, traveling across the UK, Europe, and further afield.
Cumbers has worked extensively with inner-city communities, devising oral literacy programs to be used in schools. She was shortlisted for the Arts Foundation Award in 2009. A dyslexic herself, she works with dyslexic children and adults, and passionately believes that intelligence can be measured in more ways than a piece of paper. In addition to her community and schools work, Cumbers performs commissioned pieces at literature festivals, such as Hay on Wye, and for summer programs at London’s Barbican Centre and National Theatre. She has recently completed a commission for the British Museum and is a regular contributor to BBC arts programs.
In 1998, Cumbers formed Tashbain, a klezmer storytelling band, and was commissioned by the Barings Foundation to produce “The Tower of Bagel.” Her other works include “The Fool of the Warsaw Ghetto: A Fairytale from Auschwitz,” commissioned by Hay Literature Festival. Cumbers currently has a book in progress and is also working extensively with Anglo-Indian storyteller Peter Chand, touring a series of Anglo-Judaic stories researched through their family connections. Works in this series include “Lost in Translation!!” and “The Petal Garden of King Subash.”