Exchange of stories plays a ‘vital’ role
Storytelling festival brings relevant and valuable tales from all over the world
VIKINGS, legends from the edge of the Arctic Circle and Korean folk tales are all part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival which is expanding its reach still further. The 2017 celebration of the power of storytelling will demonstrate “what a connected kind of place Scotland has always been”, according to director Donald Smith.
This year the Storytelling Festival celebrates its 28th year at the same time as Edinburgh’s landmark anniversary as a festival city. Seventy years ago, in the wake of the Second World War, Edinburgh welcomed the world after artists decided the city was the perfect backdrop to host an arts festival as a counterpoint to years of war and conflict.
The reputation Scotland has since built up for international welcome will be celebrated in the Storytelling Festival’s Global Gathering, which will see 54 invited guests from all over the globe join Scotland’s storytellers to explore their role in the 21st century. The speakers will come together to share narratives of place and local identity across the planet.
“This year’s Storytelling Festival is a global first for Scotland,” said Smith. “We are making Edinburgh the world’s storytelling capital.
“The 2017 theme, Open Word – Open World, embodies the message of inclusivity and communication, asking us to open our minds and hearts to different values, presented in stories.
“The traditional art of storytelling is more vital than ever in connecting people worldwide, across cultures, places and generations.
“Folktales, fables and fairy tales are passed down the generations because they’re relevant, emotive and valuable.”
Smith added: “This year’s festival shows what a connected kind of place Scotland has always been and highlights Edinburgh’s international reputation of welcome and hospitality.”
Spanning two weekends, the festival offers a wealth of family fun and children’s events across the city, the majority of which are free. There is also the opportunity for educators and parents to take part in talks and workshops aimed at sharing the skill of storytelling.
In addition, the festival’s Education Day on October 23 is a helpful resource for teachers and educators who want to explore how storytelling can support learning within schools, as well as ensure culture is part of early years’ education.
To celebrate its 28th year, the Festival has ensured there’s representation across all seven continents within the programme – highlighting that storytelling reaches every corner of the world across art forms.
From Scotland, alongside nightly Open Hearth sessions, 365 Days, Stories, Tunes will bring together James Robertson’s year of daily stories and Aidan O’Rourke’s tunes in response. Tom Muir will recite the great saga of St Magnus of Orkney, Daniel Allison will explore rewilding in The Missing Lynx while Margaret Bennett, Ruth Kirkpatrick, David Campbell and Jess Smith will celebrate Scotland’s
rich storytelling heritage with Precious Legacies: Remembering the Ancestors.
From Europe, Norway’s Stina Fagertun will share legends from the edge of the Arctic Circle, Istra Inspirit, a Croatian collective, will bring their heritage to Edinburgh, stories of Russia will be shared through film screenings and Viking tales from Sweden will be told.
From Asia, Wajuppa Tossa will guide audiences through a rich forest of Thai myths, Seung Ah Kim will recount a treasure of Korean folk tales and Pakistan’s Sara Kazmi and Shazea Quraish will partner Scottish artists for a journey from the Isle of Lewis to Lahore.
From Australasia, Lost Tales by Travis De Vries will explore his indigenous Australian heritage with ancient tales and modern art, while Maori storyteller Joe Harawira will share the rich traditions of New Zealand.
From Kenya, storyteller Maimouna Jallow will tell The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives and from South America there will be Peruvian tales as well as Brazilian storyteller Ana Maria Lines’ stories about painter Frida Kahlo.
From North America, Tales of the Quebec Wetlands fits well with the Shackleton and Hurley exhibition at the National Library of Scotland.
“From imprisoned princesses to brave quests and mythical creatures, there’s no doubt as youngsters we get engrossed in stories, with most of us probably recalling a family member recounting classic fairy tales and myths or our own scribbles of magical tales from imagination,” pointed out Smith.
“The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is a celebration of the power and pleasure that storytelling has in its purest form – a connection between teller and listener, a fantasy world to escape into that also contains moral lessons. “Storytelling in its purest sense is to share stories live without reading from the page, allowing the story to flow and the teller to add their own flavour. Storytelling offers a contrast, and perhaps antidote, to highly processed mass media by allowing the unique experience of listening, engaging and connecting, live in the
moment,” said Smith.
Tongue Tied and Twisted
GLOBAL: Maori storyteller Joe Harawira will share the rich traditions of New Zealand. Left – Viking tales with Jerker Fahlström.
WIVES’ TALES: Maimouna Jallow from Kenya.