Scottish International Storytelling Festival Reveals 2021 Programme

This year’s theme of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF), that is a mix of online events that cross the globe and small-scale face-to-face events, is Imagine when audiences will be invited to imagine pasts, futures, or a timeless other.

SISF plans to return to theatres with almost 40 events taking place across Scotland, including the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh but that return will go hand in hand with its continuing digital programme. A series of small-scale and safely distanced person-to-person events, including ones in outdoor locations, will also form part of the 2021 programme, all of which are subject to Scottish Government guidance.


For the first time SISF 2021extended 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 supported by the Scottish Government Festival Expo Fund.

Speaking at the Festival launch SISF 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. As we emerge from the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival will continue to engage, inspire and entertain as we travel through stories.


Our festival commissions invite us to imagine different pasts, futures, or timeless others, to challenge what we know and create the images of what we are yet to discover. These stories form the core of our live programme, whilst our Guid Crack andGlobal Lab sessions offer online participation in unique storytelling ceilidhs and workshops. ”

On 16th & 17th October, SISF will host a special opening weekend of events celebrating the Orcadian poet, author and storyteller George Mackay Brown, who was the Founding Patron of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The programme will also include 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.

Running alongside is the Community and Families Programme that bookends the festival and runs between 11th October and 30th November. The programme 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 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.

The Festival’s latest project Talking Statuesis set to spotlight the unheard stories of those who should be honoured with a specific focus on marginalised and underrepresented voices. A Scotland wide call to action has been launched asking the public to research and to imagine who should be on a plinth so their story can be told.

SISF 2021 runs from 15th – 31st October 2021

For tickets and more info visit the SISF website

Irene Brown

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