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.

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.

How much?

  • 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:

  • Application is via online form.
  • Alternative formats may be available on request.
  • Please make sure all information is in place before sending.
  • Deadline is Friday 29th September.

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.

Press enquiries

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:

1000x1000px 400x400px 1000x1000px 400x400px 1000x1000px 400x400px

What people say:

Literarily Amazing […] Illicit Ink has become an established ‘must see’ for spoken word in Edinburgh.

The Skinny

A spoken word group with a difference, Illicit Ink has a refreshingly relaxed approach to literature and storytelling.

Edinburgh Spotlight

… one of Edinburgh’s freshest groups of writers […] A night in the company of witty writers is a night well spent.

The List

... 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.

TV Bomb

Time Will Tell was a pleasantly diverse Sunday evening contemplation of Time and related concepts.

Scottish Review of Books

Contact Form

Illicit Ink always welcome feedback, press enquiries and proposals for partnership working.
If you’re interested in taking part in shows, we strongly recommend signing up to our newsletter and checking our news section regularly.