About Us




About The Seacoast Storytellers



The Seacoast Storytellers provide a public venue in which tellers, professional and novice, share their skills and knowledge. Members range in age from grade-school to adult. Meetings are an opportunity for those who enjoy storytelling to share tales and listen to others as they spin their yarns.


Our stories come from folklore of the United States of America and around the world. They include personal tales as well as our own creations, many incorporate music, song, puppetry, and drawing.


Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month from 6:30 – 8:30 PM at the Portsmouth Public Library in Portsmouth, NH. Contact Debra Ballou by phone at (603) 749-9634 or by email at debra@debraballou.com for more information.



Seacoast Storytellers’ Objectives


Provide a place where everyone is invited to sit back and listen to the stories being told


Provide a friendly environment where listeners need not feel pressured to tell a story


Provide a friendly and safe place for you to share and practice your story


Encourage all of you to bring guests and enjoy the stories being told


Promote and foster the ancient art of storytelling



Seacoast Storytellers History


In August of 1984, Children’s Librarian and storyteller, Margaret ‘Marge’ Chasteen, of the Portsmouth Public Library, encouraged other librarians to tell stories to children, in addition, to reading books from the library’s collection. For about two years the library staff, interested in learning the ancient oral skill of storytelling, met monthly in an upstairs activities room of the Portsmouth Public Library. When the membership dwindled to a very small attendance the group moved to meeting in private houses. Each month librarians and other people affiliated with this group, gathered for an evening of potluck supper and storytelling at each others homes. The group was called: Under the Lilacs. Their purpose was to help each other develop skills to tell stories to children and other audiences. Musicians, professional storytellers, and other arts and entertainment professionals were invited to share their knowledge and experiences in a workshop environment. By gathering in various locations in different neighborhoods in the seacoast area, word spread leading to new members joining.


When their membership grew in numbers too large to accommodate easily in private homes, they returned in 1987 to having meetings at the Portsmouth Public Library on Islington Street in Portsmouth, NH. Under the Lilacs then became The Seacoast Storytellers.


Marge Chasteen and Cathy Whittemore (later Pridham) ran the program until 1990.  Marge then left to pursue other endeavors. Cathy continued as coordinator of The Seacoast Storytellers with the assistance of Shelley Hersey (who began her career as a storyteller due to Marge challenging her to tell a story without a book). By 1998 The Seacoast Storytellers Guild membership grew to over 20 people. In 2010, Cathy (Whittemore) Pridham retired, leaving the Seacoast Storytellers under the guidance of storyteller, Debra Ballou. Debra serves as facilitator and coordinator of the organization. Although attendance numbers have varied over the years, the Guild, from 1990 through 2013, has provided storytelling programs for children, family, and adult audiences held at the Library, in local schools, and in other venues around the seacoast area including the Serenity Café in Rye, NH from January of 2013 to August, 2014


During 2000-2004, The Seacoast Storytellers was one of many storytelling groups around the country (and the world) to organize and perform annual Tellebrations on Saturday evening of the weekend before Thanksgiving in the USA. The Storytellers gathered with audience members at Temple Israel on State Street in Portsmouth, NH for an evening of storytelling, refreshments, and door prizes. Donations collected were given to various local charities. In November of 2014, the Seacoast Storytellers resumed their Tellebration tradition.


The overall mission of The Seacoast Storytellers Guild is to provide an environment where people can tell and listen to stories allowing all the opportunity to develop their storytelling skills.


Thirty years and counting, The Seacoast Storytellers Guild continues the tradition of storytelling in the new Portsmouth Public Library built on Parrott Avenue in Portsmouth. The organization is one of five storytelling guilds in New Hampshire.