What we do
Illicit Ink are a group of volunteers who love good stories. We work with local and international festivals to make themed storytelling shows a few times a year, sometimes more if we’re feeling lucky.
Our shows play with narrative in various ways, from theatrical, interconnected story nights to experiments in dance and music. We work with writers, comedians, musicians and actors: anyone who can elevate spoken word and storytelling to exciting new levels.
Supporting new and established writers
We provide feedback and editing for our writers and performers. Cake is usually available, or even beer for those who are not cake inclined.
New writers and performers are very welcome. See the Take Part section for more info on getting involved.
Promoting STEM (or STED)
Illicit Ink is 96.8% nerd and dedicated to the union of arts and sciences. As such, we especially enjoy shows that champion science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or dinosaurs). Science themes have included astronomy, time, biology and medicine. And dinosaurs.
Get in touch if you’d like to partner with us on a STEM show.
How it all began
Illicit Ink began as a themed spoken word night in Cabaret Voltaire in early 2011, establishing a dark and burlesque feel. We also worked with the Bongo Club and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, experimenting with various formats, themes and frequencies.
Rather than sticking with a linear formula, our events have evolved to applaud variety in storytelling. No two shows are the same. Instead, each show celebrates the themes, forms and sensibilities needed to tell its own unique story.
Check out our latest funding call to support you in creating science and storytelling events. For a flavour of events we’ve run in the past, check out the galleries below.
Hector Kreeping's Tales of Terror
Happily Never After
The Sex Show
Apollo 21: Lost Among Stars
The Company We Keep
True Confessions of Professional Liars
A night of techy tales.Underground
Passing the Dame
A night of noir storytelling.Skyground
Playful spoken word.Underground
The Lady Scientists Stich & B*tch
Lady scientists through history.Skyground
Tales of the bodily persuasion.Underground
A rather disgruntled bride-to-be.Skyground
Playful spoken word.Underground
Tales from the end of the world.Skyground
Tales From The Strip
Comics and words combined.Unbound
This Side of Paradise
Utopian spoken word.
Soporific spoken word.
Publish Or Perish
Educational spoken word.
Happy Verse Day II
Poems to lift the spirits... again :).
20,000 Words Under The Sea
Sea-themed spoken word.
Ghostly spoken word.
Magic spoken word.Unbound
Secret spoken word.
Toxic spoken word.
When Words Collide
Cosmic spoken word.
Happy Verse Day
Poems to lift the spirits.
Time Will Tell
Stories on time, in time.
Stories about monsters, read by monsters.
The Midsummer Murder Mystery
Killer spoken word.
The Faerie Court
Tales for folk who pick the wings off faeries.
Stories of the anti-valentine's persuasion.
Open funding call: Science Meets Storytelling
Illicit Ink is looking to fund exciting work combining science and storytelling. New and existing projects which fit the Illicit Ink ethos with a focus on inclusion, diversity and equality will be considered.
What are we looking for?
- As long as it fits the bill of science/storytelling and inclusion, we want to hear about it! There are no restrictions as to format or subject
- Existing projects are invited to apply
- New work in-keeping with the Illicit Ink ethos of mischief and the unexpected will be given special consideration
- All projects must take place between November 2017 and April 2018
Who can apply:
- Projects must be based in Scotland, with a minimum age of 18 for applicants.
- There is no upper age limit
- Whether this is your first foray into science storytelling or your umpteenth project, you are encouraged to apply
- We will look for some kind of relevant track record in devising/performing or producing, either in the arena of storytelling or science.
- Maximum award £200
- No applications for retrospective funding
- Those with secured funding from other sources are welcome to apply
- Awards are paid on completion of project.
How to apply:
Reading or performing at our shows
It’s a no brainer, really: performing is fun and has notable career benefits. We’ve seen new and established writers develop over the course of just one show. Our larger shows have been scouted by literary agents looking to build their lists.
Our core team have a wealth of writing and editing experience and provide free professional feedback and suggestions. Many shows are rehearsed and extra optional rehearsals are always available if needed.
How we recruit depends entirely on the type of show. More theatrical shows may require auditions with more experienced performers, whereas other shows are open mic or have dedicated spots to introduce new talent.
Performers can always expect a share of the takings and will be paid an additional fee if the show is fully funded. We also reimburse expenses for those travelling outside Edinburgh.
Sounds good: sign me up!
If you’re interested in taking part, bookmark this site: creative calls will always be listed here first, or sign up to our mailing list.
Illicit ink are committed to equality and diversity. As such, we welcome interest from anyone regardless of their background. We work with accessible venues wherever possible.
For all press-related enquiries, please get in touch via our contact form. Feel free to use the following logos when advertising or reviewing our shows:
What people say:
Literarily Amazing […] Illicit Ink has become an established ‘must see’ for spoken word in Edinburgh.
A spoken word group with a difference, Illicit Ink has a refreshingly relaxed approach to literature and storytelling.
… one of Edinburgh’s freshest groups of writers […] A night in the company of witty writers is a night well spent.
... Lost Among Stars was a funny, heart-wrenching play that was superbly acted and directed.
1 Proton 1 Electron
Excellent Edinburgh based live literature organisation […] a selection of Scotland’s best new writers.
Time Will Tell was a pleasantly diverse Sunday evening contemplation of Time and related concepts.
Scottish Review of Books