No Desert Island! (Scottish International Storytelling Festival)

31 August 2011

No Desert Island! (Scottish International Storytelling Festival)
The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is preparing for its biggest year yet, with a program that will weave the Mediterranean into Edinburgh and fourteen Scottish islands between the 21st and 30th of October.

The year's theme is islands, giving audiences a chance to visit the cultural wealth of isolated communities from Scotland and the Mediterranean through their unique storytelling traditions, from spontaneous spoken word to tales strengthened by music and dance.

Festival-goers have a unique opportunity to see some of these stories performed on their islands of origin. The Festival will be broken up into two program streams, one filling a number of city-centre venues in Edinburgh, the other simultaneously touring through 14 of Scotland's islands. While the Edinburgh instalments are expected to be no less vibrant examples of this ancient art, the Festival's director Donald Smith believes that in-situ performances will provide a wonderful opportunity for audiences to truly grasp the close links storytelling traditions have with their surrounds. He explains that, 'much more than literature, storytelling traditions reflect the landscape and ecology and the whole character of a place.'

In Edinburgh, too, stories will find their natural place as Halloween is celebrated as Samhainn, the ancient Celtic festival. Storytellers from Scotland, Ireland and the Mediterranean will come together in the gothic Hub to tell stories of spirits, magic and myths on the Festival's last evening.

The Edinburgh stream will also offer an innovative series of free 'Meet the Storyteller' events. Every night a different storyteller will tell a section of the Odyssey; a narrative chosen, Mr Smiths says, because "the whole story is full of storytellers. It's a story about storytelling." And it will certainly be perfect for showcasing the art's diversity, as each evening's storyteller brings his or her own style to the tale, infusing it with flavours of their homeland. The series of events will culminate on the Festival's last day with a rare telling of the complete Odyssey by storytellers and musicians from across Europe.

It is impossible to ignore the echoes of the Olympian in the Festival, and this is an opportunity to focus on the Games' classical nature and philosophy before diving into London 2012. Events focussing on the Olympics include family-oriented workshops, professional training for teachers, and a lecture from a Greek member of the Olympics Council and lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University, who will examine whether the original Olympian values remain relevant to sport today.

The Festival will host 45 events, 25 of which will be on-tour events on 14 Scottish islands; they will feature 41 performers, 13 of whom are international guests, and take place in 31 venues. Whether you are a storytelling devotee, or wish to rediscover an ancient art form blossoming in the contemporary scene; a traveller looking for a dynamic new perspective of Scotland's islands or London's upcoming Olympics, or a classicist interested in revisiting a Homeric text in its original oral context, the Festival's diverse offerings are sure to contain something to tempt you.


Scotland’s Islands - the events, exhibitions and activities happening all year round.

We list every event we hear of, large and small, taking place on the islands of Scotland or taking place elsewhere and relating to Scotland's Islands. They provide a unique opportunity to savour the diversity and excitement of island life. Check our our facebook page for general updates too -  

There has never been a better time for you to visit Scotland's Islands, to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and unspoilt beaches, to get close to dramatic wild-life, learn about our heritage, participate in a great range of activities, and enjoy our music, food and drink.

All this on some of our 99 inhabited islands large and small (and many more uninhabited) accessible by sea and air in six regions: Argyll & Bute, Highland, North Ayrshire, Orkney, Outer Hebrides and Shetland.



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