The 2021 Storytelling Festival In Ten Steps

Storytelling - Cover

The 2021 Scottish International Storytelling Festival [15-31 October] promises an eclectic mix of online events spanning across the globe and small-scale face-to-face events in Edinburgh. Over 100 performers will take part in 93 events and countries represented include USA, Colombia, Canada, Italy, Spain, England, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Holland, Iran, Sierra Leone and Iceland. And to help you explore the programme, we've broken it down in to ten easy steps.

  1. Theme: For the first time , the Festival has extended an open invitation to storytellers, based or working in Scotland, to join the Festival’s creative process by submitting a proposal on the theme of Imagine. The result is a series of new works developed by storytellers and musicians. Highlights include the festival’s opening concert Roch the Wind – at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile - a feminine meditation of Hamish Henderson’s iconic Freedom Come A’ Ye, fusing music, words and imagery. Storytelling Centre
  2. Anniversary: A special opening weekend of events celebrates Orkney and the poet, author and storyteller George Mackay Brown on the 100th anniversary of his birth - including an opportunity to see the recently created film of George Mackay Brown’s early play The Storm Watchers, performed by a cast of Orcadian women filming in their homes on mobile phones during lockdown. Storytelling - George
  3. Family: There’s a host of family events running throughout the festival including Super Duper Story Generators!, an epically interactive story session that’s 100% powered by YOUR imagination; while Claire and Fergus McNicol invite families to join them for dancing, stories, rhymes and raps in Hip, Hop, Story, StopStorytelling - Family Hip Hop
  4. Open Hearth: Storytellers and musicians gather around the famous Open Hearth for a relaxed traditional session of stories and music in the Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile. As the darkness closes in and we gather around the symbolic fire, this is the perfect way to end your day, hosted by some of the finest traditional storytellers from Scotland and beyond. Storytelling - Open Hearth
  5. Live Theatre: As part of the Imagine series, join Richard Medrington and Rick Conte from 'The Man Who Planted Trees' and storyteller Andy Cannon, on the trail of the legendary John Muir in ‘John Muir and the Missionary’s Dog’. We follow Muir from a window ledge in Dunbar to the brink of a crevasse in Alaska to find out what connects this conservation pioneer, a remarkable dog and an indigenous tribe clinging on to their culture and their land. Storytelling - John Muir Theatre
  6. Ladies Who Like It: Imagine a space where women could tell and hear each other’s joyful, life-affirming stories about sexuality, shared with warmth, compassion and knowing laughter. Ladies Who Like It will be evening of humorous, inspiring and informative contemporary collected tales about sex, presented for the wellbeing and inspiration of other women, and for those who care about them. Storytelling - Ladies
  7. Talking Statues: The festival’s latest project Talking Statues saw a Scotland wide call to action, asking the public to research and to imagine who should be on a plinth as it’s time to tell their story. These stories will be shared as part of a special event led by storyteller Mara Menzies on 27th October, with an online discussion on social media taking place on the day before using the hashtag #TalkingStatues. Storytelling - Statues
  8. Walter Scott and City Writers: Throughout 2021 Scotland has been celebrating the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This special event, held in collaboration with the UNESCO Cities of Literature Network, presents two of Walter Scott’s stories told live, alongside contributions from Seattle, Dublin and Beirut based storytellers, each exploring writers associated with their own City of Literature. Storytelling - Walter Scott
  9. Guid Crack: Edinburgh’s long running storytelling night Guid Crack returns online for three sessions - ghost tales, folk toles and unexpected tales - with a special guest storyteller each time and the usual open-floor opportunity to share a tale of your own. Storytelling - Guid Crack
  10. Global Lab: The workshop programme strand Global Lab returns, hosting a series of digital workshops with live participation which will bring together storytellers, artists, activists and educators from across the globe to explore sustainability, ecology and healing. Storytelling Fest

Running alongside the Festival, the Community and Families Programme pairs local storytellers with partner organisations in online and small-scale live settings, unlocking the ethos of ‘going local’. Community groups and schools will take part in The Big Scottish Story Ripple (#StoryRipple) by holding a storytelling event led by a professional storyteller, with subsidies covering the cost of their storyteller’s fees.  In return, the participating groups must offer a good deed back to their local community on or before St Andrew’s Day – continuing the ripple of kindness.

This is only a taster of what this year’s Scottish International Storytelling Festival has to offer! To see full details of everything happening between 15-31 October, dive into the programme here.

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