Joan Leotta


Joan Leotta

“Storytelling is entertainment that educates, encourages, empowers, and energizes! Story molds minds and opens hearts to other cultures, new ideas, and is a spark to the creative spirit”

. . . Joan Leotta   (also check and

Joan is both a performer and a writer. Her motto is “Encouraging words through pen and performance.” Twenty-five years of experience giving programs in schools, museums, libraries, community stages, private parties, and corporate functions. Joan gives custom folklore programs, combination writing and storytelling shows, storytelling instruction, teacher workshops, programs for adults on telling, writing, and creativity and week-long residencies for children and adults on storytelling and telling and writing. She has received awards for her poems, performance stories for children and for adults.


Folklore-bringing folktales to life

Joan gives interactive performances of adapted folk tales on topics ranging from Magic!, Aesop, Jack Tales, Small Animals to Dragons and shows that highlight multiculturalism such Chinese New Year, Japanese Sea of Gold, Latin American Celebration, African Safari, Native American Tales, and Caravan Tales of the Middle East. Programs are available on many themes, aimed at varied age groups ranging from pre-school – high school. Discounts for BTB performances, E-mail

Time Travelers – One Woman Shows (costumed characters)

Versions available for elementary, middle, high school and adult groups

Colonial Morning. Spend a morning with costumed indentured servant, Molly and learn how a hurricane helped her gain her independence.

Spies. (Civil War) Meet the aunt of Confederate spy, Belle Boyd. Learn of her exploits and life on the home front during that most uncivil time.

Westward Ho! Travel the Oregon Trail with Narcissa Whitman the first white woman to make the trip.

Home Front on the Radio. Meet a radio broadcaster from WWII and learn how she and other women worked and played on the home front–original facsimile radio show included in the performance.

Calabash Seafood Learn the traditions of southeastern North Carolina

Cultural Interpretation for Museums

Art, History, Natural History, Science Museums
Custom story presentations to enhance audience enjoyment of exhibits ranging from ancient Greek urns to Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating party and Baseball. A member of IMTAL, my radio theatre script helps children learn about World War II on the home front. Programs on Gingerbread Houses. Russian Saints, Tibetan Animals, and the Ukraine’s Tales of the Golden Table have entertained audiences in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington , DC, New York, and Richmond. Whaler’s Wife, Sharks!, Sea Turtles, are especially good for nautical and natural history museums where my shows included, and other topics. Most programs are custom for a particular show are thoroughly researched and include factual material. Docent Training programs in general presentation and storytelling also available. E-mail for details and rates:


Library Programming

Engaging minds and hearts through story can have few better venues than the library, the treasure chest of stores that helped develop my own love of books.
I have performed in libraries in many locations and have a variety of holiday programs, summer theme programs, and more. Interactive programs for children from ages preschool through elementary in library setting.

Training for librarians:

  • Planning and Giving Storytelling Programs
  • Starting a Children’s Book Reviewing Group
  • Starting a Children’s Storytelling Club

Teaching Storytelling, Creative Dramatics, Creativity

Part of my performance philosophy is to empower others. I want children and adults to be able to use my performances as a stimulus to their own creativity. I also teach storytelling to adults and children, teach creative dramatics to children, and creativity to parents and corporate managers.

Teaching and Speaking on Writing

Joan has written several books and has published many articles, short stories and poems.

She is available to speak on writing. You can order her latest series of historical novels, the Legacy of War series on and, “Giulia Goes to War” and “Letters from Korea” She will speak on historical fiction, writing poetry and writing in general.

Writing Programs

A freelance writer with hundreds of articles to her credit, Joan’s first book for children, Massachusetts, a history book has just been published by Scholastic. She is designated as a Writer in Virginia, as a Poet and is available to talk to students on the writing process for K, 1-3, 4-6, Jr., High and Sr. High.
Programs include:
Poetry (for Jr. and Senior High) Express your deepest self-in brief
Get a Good Start (for K and Gr. 1-3) Uses a story and focuses on beginning, middle, end.
Tale of the Tail. Teaching writing using folklore presentation to model a story and teach how to write a pourquoi tale.
History: A Real Story. Talk about how to research, write and revise.
For Gr. 4-6, Jr. High, and High School.
Drawing on her book Writing Techniques for Hotel Managers, Joan Leotta also teaches: The Art of Saying What You Mean


What Clients Say About Joan Leotta

“..your animated style made the presentation both interesting and entertaining..”  Asian Studies Institute, Fairfax County, VA

“you had a rapt audience..” Jay Kohn, Kennedy Center

“…Our survey showed that your presentations are one of the favorite parts of our program”  McLean Presbyterian ESL program

“It was such a joy to watch our divers audience held spellbound.,” 
Lucia Pierce, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, DC

“very comfortable with all ages…after the presentation many children wanted to learn how to tell and teachers were convinced they could use storytelling in all subject areas.”    Orange County to Virginia Commission on Arts

“Thank you for coming to tell us stories. Nobody can top the way you did it!”  Fifth grade class, Fairfax County.

“a superb storyteller..”  Director, J. Marchais Museum, Staten Island, New York.

“I liked your stories. They are good stories..”  Alexis, Grade 2 Whittier, El.

“I liked you too because you were funny,”  your friend, Shaquille, Whittier El.


List of Recent Venues and Media Work

El Dia De Los Muertos,  Myrtle Beach Museum

North Carolina History MuseumWorld War ll presentation

Hear Women Tell  several programs  plus:

  • Whittier -DC Public School Winter Interactive Tales
  • Kings Park Library, Fairfax County: Native American Tales
  • Hirshorn Gallery-Tales from Spain Oct 2001
  • Hillwood House Museum-Stories of Russian Saints (on Icons) Oct 2001
  • Frick Art Museum Pittsburgh, PA-Baseball Tales “Driving It Home” Aug 2001
  • Loudoun County Laughs Festival June 2001
  • Pohick Regional Library Summer programs 2001- on Middle Eastern Tales and Sea of Gold-Japanese Tales
  • Arlington County Library Summer Program 2001- Stories From Many Lands
  • School Age Child Care Summer Camps-Summer 1999, 2000, and 2001
  • Hirshorn Gallery (Modern Art Interp Magic Fish)-May 2001
  • Smithsonian Institution Holiday Festival December 2000–Italian Family Lore
  • National Building Museum-Gingerbread Houses, WWII-On the Home Front, and various Girl Scout Holiday Storytelling Programs
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts-Indonesian Tales to complement Julia Taymore Exhibit, Norwegian Tales, Italian Carnevale Stories, and other programs
  • Tudor House-Colonial Tales/Pumpkin Tales
  • Fresh Fields Grocery Store: Programs of Food stories
  • Drew Model School Celebration for RIF reading Buddies
  • Phillips Collection, Washington DC: Special Program to Celebrate Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party– original stories
  • Glasgow Middle School-ESL Class Story Presentation
  • Featured Performer (also in previous seven festivals) at Voices in the Glen Festival and gave seminars on Creativity and storytelling
  • National Zoo’s Guppy Gala, 2000
  • Appearances at McLean Presbyterian for ESL supplementary work to aid in understanding of US holidays
  • MOPS- Talk – Nurturing Creativity in Children
  • National Textile Museum, Turkish Tales, Spanish Tales, Mongol Tales
  • Featured Poet Lake Braddock Senior High School,
  • Springfield Mall-Storytime for Tots
  • White Oak Elementary-residency, Greek and Roman Myths, Egyptian Tales
  • Girl Scout Multi-Cultural Program summer camp
  • Training for RIF Instructors in Storytelling Techniques
  • Loudoun County Parks and Library System-Hispanic Tales, Native American Tales, Aesop and Middleburg Public Library-Hispanic Tales
  • Prince William County Middle School, Stories and Writing
  • Loudoun County Franklin Park–Stories for Preschoolers and stories for elementary
  • Classroom appearances at various schools and preschools

Media Work:

Guest on Hear Women Tell, my own television show performing for children and teaching children to perform. Filmed a series for shows for Red Apple 21, Fairfax County Public School Column on storytelling in Virginia Parent Weekly (two years).  Guest on Channel 10 show -John Monsul, “Communication”