Scottish International Storytelling Festival Set to Host Online and In-Person Events

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) organised by Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS), has been taking place each year since 1989. This autumn, with a programme entitled In the Flow, it takes audiences on a voyage exploring Scotland’s coasts and water through music and storytelling.

In the Flow will celebrate Scotland as ‘a nation shaped by the sea’ with events shining a light on lost stories of Scottish and international culture, giving a new perspective on historical experiences on everything from Scottish colonial history to our connection to the natural world.

Over 100 performers will take part in the festival representing countries across the globe with 93 events taking place in Edinburgh and across Scotland, 43 of which are planned to be in-person experiences subject to Scottish Government Guidelines. 

Part of the SISF programme is Voyage, a series of new work developed by storytellers and musicians for VisitScotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters. Premiered as pre-recorded studio broadcasts to be streamed online, Voyage is a collection of fourteen performances by Scotland based storytellers sharing tales of real and imaginary voyages that have connected Scotland to other coastal countries, as well as celebrating Scotland’s own coastline and rivers. 

Speaking at the Festival launch Scottish International Storytelling Festival Director Donald Smith said, “Stories and songs are vital for human survival. They carry our emotions, memories and values. They bind us together as families, communities and a nation, especially through tough times. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival will continue to channel that flow with an increased focus on wellbeing in the year of Covid-19.”

Storytelling Walks that depart from the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and Enchanted Garden: Paths of Storiesaround the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, form part of outdoor promenade performances along with Sangs an’ Clatter: Campfire Tales at Damshot Woods in Pollock with all plans being subject to Scottish Government guidance during the festival period.

The workshop programme strand Global Lab is hosting a series of digital workshops with live participation bringing together storytellers, artists, activists and educators from across the globe to explore sustainability, ecology and healing. Taking place online daily throughout the festival, the programme offers examples of creative practice in the arts, education and frontline activism, with the opportunity to share, question and dialogue.

Edinburgh’s long running story night Guid Crack and SISF’s Open Hearth sessions move online, with live digital participation hosted by  some of the finest traditional storytellers from Scotland and around the world.

Bookending the festival is the Community and Families Programme that will pair local storytellers with partner organisations in online and small-scale live settings.

Community groups and schools can take part in The Big Scottish Story Ripple (#StoryRipple) by holding a storytelling event led by a professional storyteller. Groups can apply for a subsidy that will cover the cost of their storyteller’s fees. In return, successful applicants must offer a good deed back to their local community on or before St Andrew’s Day, continuing the ripple of kindness.. 

As SISF 2020 closes with a celebration of the Feast of Samhuinn, the 2020 Scottish International Storytelling Festival is on the hunt for Scotland’s Greatest Ghost Stories. The call is going out to find local ghost stories and to encourage people in Scotland to discover those in their own area. As part of the festival a ghoulish storytelling workshop will be held to encourage storytelling enthusiasts of all ages to practise some serous scaring. 

Scottish International Storytelling Festival is available online and in person in Edinburgh and across Scotland from 17th to 31st October 2020. 

For tickets and more information please visit the SISF website. 

Irene Brown

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