The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is back this October
- Emma Simmonds
- 20 July 2021
The festival promises an eclectic mix of in-person and online events combining stories and songs
The largest event of its kind, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival (SISF) explores a wealth of cultures, traditions and styles and has been taking place in and around Edinburgh annually since 1989, brought to you by Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland. This year, it's inviting audiences to imagine something different, by delving into their past, future, dreams and desires, as well as worlds old and new.
As Covid-19 restrictions are eased, the festival will return to theatres, including the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. Small-scale, safely distanced events – some of which will take place outdoors – are planned as part of the 2021 programme, running from Friday 15 to Sunday 31 October, with plans subject to government guidance at the time. Additionally, it will continue to develop the festival's digital programme for those unable to attend in person and international audiences.
For the first time, the festival extended an open invitation to storytellers working or living in Scotland to join SISF's creative process by submitting a proposal based on the theme 'Imagine'. This has resulted in a series of works developed by storytellers and musicians, whose creativity joins that of leading storytellers from Scotland and beyond. Adventures with John Muir, tales of resilience and survival in Lithuania, an introduction to the father of climate science, and scenes from Partition India all feature, with more to be announced in September.
In the spirit of collaboration, the festival will also be working on events with The Orkney Storytelling Festival and The Wild Geese Festival, based in Dumfries and Galloway. And, running alongside the SISF from Tuesday 12 October to Tuesday 30 November, the Community and Families Programme will pair local storytellers with partner organisations in online and small-scale live settings, while the festival's Global Lab makes its focus international environmental creativity, with digital workshops bringing together storytellers, artists, activists and educators from across the globe in the countdown to COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Glasgow from Sunday 31 October.
The SISF's director, Donald Smith, explains more: 'This year's Storytelling Festival is about showcasing the power of storytelling to create our own worlds, to celebrate human spirit and ingenuity and to help us imagine new ways of being. As we come to terms with the lasting impact of the pandemic and look forward to COP26, now is the time to ask: Do stories have a power to change lives? Could this time of global crisis also be the crucible for change? This year I'm particularly excited about our Imagine strand in the programme and the results of working closely with the storytelling community across Scotland. This spirit of co-creation, will help us build back better and stronger, whilst feeding the roots of storytelling traditions in artistic communities across Scotland.'
The full SISF programme will be announced on Tuesday 21 September at sisf.org.uk