No Desert Island! (Scottish International Storytelling Festival)
31 August 2011
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
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.