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Tales of tails at the 2020 Scottish International Storytelling Festival

By David Porter

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This autumn, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival takes audiences on a voyage, exploring Scotland’s coasts and water through music and storytelling.

Professional storyteller Daniel Allison in action at the festival, which this year will take on a new format.
Professional storyteller Daniel Allison in action at the festival, which this year will take on a new format.

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) is keeping audiences ‘In the Flow’ with an eclectic mix of online events spanning across the globe and small-scale face-to-face events, celebrating Scotland ‘a nation shaped by water’, taking you on voyages at home and away.

Stories and songs are vital for human survival, they carry our emotions, memories and values and 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.

The Festival will not do this in packed theatres, but through live and pre-recorded broadcast events, and through small-scale safely distanced person-to-person events, including ones in outdoor locations.

All plans will be subject to Scottish Government guidance in the autumn period.

SISF’s In the Flow will present Voyage, a series of new work developed by storytellers and musicians for Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, supported by the Scottish Government Festival Expo Fund.

Premiered as a pre-recorded studio broadcast, Voyage, includes interpretations of the slave passage across the Atlantic and Scotland’s part in it, the colonisation of Iceland, James VI’s Hamlet voyage to Elsinore, Johnson and Boswell’s Tour to the Hebrides and the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, illustrating a nation shaped by the sea.

Flowing alongside the Voyage series, the Festival will be celebrating Scotland’s own coastline and rivers, collaborating with The Orkney Storytelling Festival and The Wild Geese Festival in Dumfries and Galloway.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "During this challenging time living with the impacts of coronavirus, storytelling and music have never been so important to our resilience, our wellbeing and our sense of belonging.’

"The Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2020, backed by £100,000 PLACE funding and over £88,000 from EXPO, will help many local artists and performers across Scotland.

"I’m also pleased that in connecting people and communities with culture in new and inclusive ways, SISF is continuing Scottish festivals’ proud traditions of innovation and creativity."

Running alongside SISF from October 12 to November 30 the Community and Families Programme will pair local storytellers with partner organisations in online and small-scale live settings, unlocking the ethos of going local.

Also funded through PLACE, the Festival’s Global Lab will focus on international environmental creativity.

A series of digital workshops with live participation will bring together storytellers, artists, activists and educators from across the globe to explore sustainability, ecology and healing.

This strand of SISF will be presented in association with The Earth Story Collection, and the Earth Charter Initiative.

SISF Director Donald Smith said; "This year's Storytelling Festival is about wellbeing.

"Across the nation, we aim to bring many streams into a flowing current of hope and renewal."

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