Paul Stones - Performance Direction

Paul Stones helps poets act, writers perform, and the terrified speak.


"Paul is a tremendously sensitive professional, and a true and intelligent facilitator."

“Paul is a tremendously sensitive professional, and a true and intelligent facilitator.”

‘I’ll always be glad I spent time working with Paul. It was a wonderfully positive experience. I had felt crippled by pre-performance nerves – Paul helped me to make the paradigm shift to knowing I could read and speak well in public and enjoy it, which for me was mostly about remembering to breathe and learning to redirect my nervous energy. His wisdom about choosing poems for a set, and finding the dramatic shape of that set, has also proved invaluable over the years.

Paul is a tremendously sensitive professional, and a true and intelligent facilitator. I can warmly recommend him to anyone who needs help embracing the joys of performance. Sometimes I still hear his voice in my head when I’m about to speak to a large audience, and I smile!’

Clare Best, author of Treasure Ground (2009), Excisions (2011) and Breastless (2011).

 “Clare’s reading at the Needlemakers Café has to be one of the strongest and most moving I’ve ever been to. You could have heard a pin drop.” – Vanessa Gebbie

“She read with such direct simplicity that the tension in the room rose to fever pitch. I left feeling enlightened, uplifted and emotionally rejuvenated.” – James Wilby

“To listen to Clare speak about her preventive double mastectomy, with accompanying poems, was a revelation – such a rich and strange transformation in the presentation. We need to recognise innovative and ground-breaking work when we hear it, whether that is achieved in tone, content or form. Clare Best masters all three.” – Anthony Wilson

“It was the first reader, Clare Best, who stood out… She took the audience on a journey.” – Rachael Finucane, Cuisle International Poetry Festival 2011

"Paul Stones: the first port of call for any aspiring spoken word artist"

“Paul’s rare marriage of razor-sharp directorial and technical insight with sensitivity and diplomacy make the fraught process of putting together a show as painless as possible”

‘I have worked with Paul many times over the years, most recently on the Arts Council funded development of my new show Man Up, Jonny Fluffypunk, and it’s him I always think of first to turn to if backed into any artistic cul-de-sac. Artists and their egos are not easy things to handle, but Paul’s rare marriage of razor-sharp directorial and technical insight with sensitivity and diplomacy make the fraught process of putting together a show as painless as possible. He will always go the extra mile, he will push you hard when you need pushing and his 110% commitment and enthusiasm will pull you through any despairing moments.

Paul Stones was one of those performers who first made me want to be one myself. I’d have no hesitation in recommending him as the first port of call for any aspiring spoken word artist looking for direction, support or just requiring a laser eye for seeing the potential strengths and pitfalls of new work. You’d be hard pushed to do better.’

Jon Seagrave, aka Jonny Fluffypunk, performance poet and author

“Jonny Fluffypunk is a genius”- Dan Cockrill, Bang Said The Gun

“Acute social obsevation, intricate humour, surreal fantasy, sharp irony and wit… and England’s most pretentious moustache” – The Independent

“Go and see this man!” – Tony Allen, ‘the godfather of alternative comedy’

“A highly accomplished wordsmith and comedian” – Highly Recommended – Fringe Review, May 2014.


"Working with Paul was an enjoyable and empowering experience"

“Working with Paul was an enjoyable and empowering experience”

‘Paul is a warm, instinctive teacher, immediately putting me at my ease and teaching me simple and effective techniques which enabled me to re-connect with my written work in a way that made ‘performing’ for an audience a positive and enjoyable experience, rather than something I rushed through with my face burning and my head firmly down! Working with Paul is an enjoyable and empowering experience for any writer who feels they haven’t found their ‘performing voice’ and hence feels nervous about reading before an audience.

I read and ‘perform’ prose and poetry regularly now, sometimes in front of large audiences at festivals, etc, and I’ve always been so glad I went to Paul for help.

I’d recommend him unreservedly.’

Catherine Smith, author of The Butcher’s Hands, Lip, Otherwhere. Next Generation poet; twice shortlisted for the Forward Prize.

 “Smith has a deceptively low-key style beneath which lurks a delicately-wrought web of keenly-observed human behaviour.” – Brighton Evening Argus

"The simple tips he gave me have proved to be the foundations of my career."

“The simple tips he gave me have proved to be the foundations of my career.”

‘My first public reading was a disaster: a car-crash of nerves, reading poems from shaking pieces of paper with a quaking voice and a delivery that was both rushed and inaudible. Poems that had taken two years to write, and won prizes, were stillborn in front of an audience so nervous on my behalf that when I came off, strangers patted me on the back and said ‘never mind’!

Two one-to-one sessions with Paul were all I needed to set me on the right track and the simple tips he gave me have proved to be the foundations of my career. I have since recommended him widely to others, including many friends, and seen their own transformations under his guidance.

He is tremendously talented at bringing out the talent of others; building their confidence, helping them achieve their artistic aims and become confident, clear, effective communicators.  And full disclosure: these days, I have him always on hand to advise me.  He was so useful and supportive I thought I’d better marry him.’

Ros Barber, author of The Marlowe Papers, winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize and Author’s Club Best First Novel Awards, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2013.

“Ros Barber doesn’t read so much as put her whole personal, emotional creativity into sharing her words. From the outset the audience were transfixed. For me, it was a whole new experience in the immediacy of a creative mind connecting with people.” – Andrew Fitch, Booktalk

“Ros Barber’s voice is an instrument of creativity, intellect and emotion. Her performance at Pure Poetry was one of the most memorable I have seen in fifteen years.” –  Patience Agbabi

"A professional all-round support system."

“A professional all-round support system.”

‘I found Paul Stones’ recent help with my first one woman show, Luna’s History of Madness, very useful. He has the ability to offer creative suggestions without imposing his views, allowing the final word to remain with the writer/performer. He makes himself available as often as he is able, is unpretentious in his manner, and very humble considering the range of talents and experience he possesses in the field of directing, performing and teaching. I called him my ‘personal trainer’, as he basically helped keep me on track with encouragement, some practical advice, and general moral support.

I found the idea of doing a one woman show, as a single woman with no support at home, quite daunting – Paul filled that gap of feeling there was someone there, quietly involved as much or as little as I needed, knowing when to come forward and when to back off with the intuition of a dancer. I’ve incorporated many of his performance warm-up techniques into my own practice as performer, facilitator and director: his articulation sheet, in particular, has been copied and praised more times than I care to mention.

He doesn’t do angry, and is as cool as it gets, offering a professional all-round support system.’

Yvo Luna, performer and writer.

“Honest, funny and slightly bonkers.” – Nione Meakin,  The Independent

“This literary feast was a fantastic selection of different performance methods, skillfully cooked up into a very digestible treat. ” **** – Delmelza Craze,

“This witty, fascinating and remarkably honest talk… well-rehearsed and impeccably-managed.” **** – Richard Stamp,

"Workshop attendance numbers have increased over 500% since doing this work."

“Workshop attendance numbers have increased over 500% since doing this work.”

‘I’m a writer and workshop facilitator. In preparation for the publication of my book Create a Life Beyond Belief by Hay House in October 2014, I wanted (and needed) some performance training. I felt that the next step in my career was to speak to larger audiences, and despite not having a fear of public speaking, I knew that sometimes my energy could splurge out over the audience. I wanted to be firm, present, calm and in control of that performing energy, and that is what working with Paul has given me. I had three sessions with Paul and have been amazed at my progress over that period. I learnt the importance of warming up my voice, how to use my breath effectively, the subtle use of cue cards, how to exude confidence whilst being centre stage and why detailed preparation is vital for my performance.

In Paul’s gentle and firm manner he has taken me from feeling and projecting like a small workshop group facilitator to someone who can talk to a hundred strong audience who I believe will really enjoy the content I have lovingly prepared. With Paul’s encouragement I now take myself seriously as a performer and this has shown in the workshop attendance numbers which have increased over 500% since doing this work.’

Kate Marillat, author of Create a Life Beyond Belief (Hay House, 2014)

Comments received since working with Paul:
“Inspiring and insightful, love Kate, she is a wonderful teacher and person.”
“Kate is a great facilitator and so passionate about spreading her love of EFT.”
“Really enjoyed the evening and exploring our ‘stuff’ and you were very kind and helpful in leading the group. Looking forward to next time!”
“Amazed at how you led and facilitated the group; allowing for sensitive exploration of personal issues yet keeping it upbeat.”
“Excellent theme, well facilitated.”

"For spoken word artists developing their first show or new work, Paul is the perfect facilitator."

‘For spoken word artists developing their first show or new work, Paul is the perfect facilitator.’

‘Paul Stones has been a champion of the grass roots spoken word scene in Brighton since the 1990s. I am one among many poets still writing, performing and making money from our art, who owe Paul an enormous debt for his passionate support and encouragement from our very earliest gigs.

Paul gave many of us our first opportunities. And amongst many open-mike, cabaret and spoken word platforms that he provided, it is often forgotten that it was Paul alongside talented rapper MC Brainiac, who instigated and hosted Brighton’s very first Poets v MC’s Slam, now a major date in Brighton’s spoken word calendar.

Paul provided practical support, sometimes driving groups of poets across the country for slams and gigs, and if the gig had gone badly and we were running low on confidence, he talked many of us out of giving up by the time we’d arrived home.

Paul has the ability to create fun, friendly, supportive and stimulating learning environments. He helped me and many other emerging poets to develop our performance skills through workshops which applied his theatrical knowledge to the performance of poetry. I was also lucky enough to work with Paul on our first piece of “spoken word theatre” in 1998, a good few years before the term became ubiquitous on the spoken word scene.

Paul has the gift of being able combine his considerable personal warmth with his directorial ability to support performers to create shows which remain true to themselves and are the best they can be. Although I haven’t lived in Brighton for many years, I continue to call on Paul’s keen listening ear and sage stage advice whenever I get stuck creating a new show. Paul has had a hand in two of my recent family shows The Jumble Book and Dictionary of Dads, at decisive moments in their development.

Paul always makes you feel relaxed in his company and I’d highly recommend him to anybody who requires a shot of confidence and some stage skills before making a presentation. Also for any writer who wants to be a more engaging presenter of their work and for spoken word artists developing their first show or new work, Paul is the perfect facilitator.

Justin Coe, performance poet.

“Justin’s performance was slick and professional, magical and inspirational. The children and dads enjoyed the interactive elements and joined in with great spirit.The poems, raps and songs were diverse and engaging and appealed to a wide age group. Poetry has never been more popular!” – Katharine Pond/Anne Bonham, Bookstart and Children’s Manager, Southend Libraries

“Funny and tragic, real and make-believe, Jumble Book is authentic, insightful and human.” – Radio Reverb, Brighton Fringe Festival review

“The most talented, funny, original and obliging of performance poets.” – Jenny Seaton, Hastings Education Action Zone

"The show won a Fringe award ... It is no overstatement to say I owe its success to Paul."

“The show won a Fringe award … It is no overstatement to say I owe its success to Paul.”

‘Paul directed and produced the scratch performance of my one woman show ‘Altered Egos’, a series of monologues in which I play six different women. I am not a trained actress but Paul bravely took me on, helping me with character development and theatrical technique performance skills, and undertaking all stage management including lighting. The show won a Fringe award in the Brighton Festival 2010 which helped me secure Arts Council England R&D funding. It is no overstatement to say I owe its success to Paul.

Let’s remember too that Paul is a seasoned performer in his own right and so has the priceless knowledge and experience of both sides of the stage. This lends him a unique empathy as a director. In fact, it is thanks to Paul that I gained the confidence and conviction to pursue my writing at all thanks to a series of his workshops I attended in 1996. Until then I had never shared my work let alone contemplated performing it! I’d suggest that Paul has been instrumental in the careers of many of Brighton’s performing poets; he created a platform for us by organising/creating/being involved in events including countless open-mics, slams, Stop All The Clocks, Guerilla/Gorilla poetry, Don’t Feed the Poets and the now notorious Poets vs MCs slam. I and many others have a lot to thank Paul for’

Bernadette Cremin, performance poet.

“A seamless performance… Cremin’s delivery keeps you hanging on every word, every metaphor.” – Disability Arts Online

 "His investment of time and energy was a major part in ensuring the sell out success of our show."

“His investment of time and energy was a major part in ensuring the sell out success of our show.”

‘Paul Stones thoroughly understands stagecraft. His knowledge of directing helped me develop my poetry from solo performance to the full demands of a theatre show. He is skilled at getting the best out of cast members both individually and as a team. His investment of time and energy was a major part in ensuring the sell out success of our show.’

Rapunzel Wizard, Demented Eloquence.  Performances include including Glastonbury Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Oxford Literary Festival, and Brighton Fringe Festival. He was a poetical representative of Brighton’s City of Culture Bid, and has won poetry slam contests around the UK. Runs workshops for the Scottish Book Trust under their Live Literature scheme.

“A must see act.” – Student Guide to Aberdeen

“Had me roaring with laughter” – Daily Info, Oxford