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About the storyteller

Suzanne Whitby started telling epic tales as a child as she whiled away sunny afternoons playing in walnut tree in South Africa, hence her stage name “Ziyadliwa”, which means “walnut” in isiZulu. Now she tells wise, witty and wonder-filled tales to (mostly) adult audiences across Europe.

She is a bold and dynamic storyteller, known for her vibrant stage presence, wry humour and high-energy performance style and she has a knack for turning an ancient art into a joyful contemporary experience. A long-time resident of beautiful Innsbruck in Austria, Suzanne has lived and worked in the UK, France, the United States, and Australia, and travelled the globe, collecting stories on her journeys.

Just as likely to share a 5-minute tale as she is to perform a 90-minute set, Suzanne draws on a vast repertoire of folktales, traditional tales, myths, legends, epics and world folklore as well as true tales, geostories, historical tales, and original stories. Endlessly curious, her performances touch on topics as diverse as medieval women, Celtic folklore, environmental disruption, love and death, bog bodies, the African savannah, Greek mythology, the plight of the ocean, Indian epics, urban legends, Japanese Tengu, grim fairy tales, climate change, and weird stories that have to be heard to be believed.

Suzanne tells tales throughout Europe and has told as far away as Southern Africa and the USA. She can be found in cellar bars, smart theatres, universities, offices, schools, and at festivals, conferences, private parties and corporate events. She loves interesting projects and is always open to work with others, try new things, and use stories and storytelling in different ways. She usually tells tales in English, but can occasionally be found telling in German and is taking baby steps to tell in Italian, too.

When not on stage, Suzanne teaches science communication skills to scientists and researchers, and is an active climate communicator on a mission to give everyone in Austria access to climate awareness training by 2030. She runs a small consultancy where she works as a facilitator, trainer, and communication consultant for organisations and groups who want to create sustainable futures.

In her free time, Suzanne is working towards completing her PhD, where is exploring how the intersection of oral stories, space and the senses can shift environmental thinking. She is an “aspiring mindful human” and explores mindfulness with stories at tiny mindful.

Phew! That’s it! If you’d like to know more, or if you’d like to discuss a storytelling show, or if you’d like to invite Suzanne to talk at a panel event or meeting, do get in touch.

Oral, performance storyteller in Austria / Suzanne Whitby / Ziyadliwa

On Instagram


I love the monthly storytelling shows in Innsbruck at Max Standard. Every month, Ziyadliwa takes us on a new journey, filled with stories that I’ve seldom heard. It’s a small venue, so we get to see every action, hear every nuance. All with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of wine in hand. A perfect evening out!

- Tracey Saunders


Innsbruck, Austria

Call Ziyadliwa

+43 660 378 2939