Scottish Storytelling Festival 2011
21st festival includes Homer’s Odyssey and contributions from Corsica, Cypus and Sardinia
This article is from 2011.
Reaching 21 is a landmark event for everyone, and the Scottish Storytelling Festival is no exception. From fairly humble beginnings at the former Netherbow Theatre, the Festival has grown to encompass not just Edinburgh and Glasgow, but Dundee, Aberdeen, the Western Isles and up into Orkney and Shetland.
But for Festival director Donald Smith – a man who has been there from the start – size isn’t the only thing he’s celebrating at the 21st anniversary. ‘There are three really interesting artistic things about how it’s grown, rather than just in terms of size,’ says Smith. ‘It’s now Edinburgh as a cultural gateway to Scotland, with this huge Scottish spread throughout the tour. Also, our international status – live storytelling is just coming back into cultures across the world, and people really do recognise Scotland’s contribution, we’re kind of a model now. And the third – and for me the most exciting thing – is that there is a whole second generation of Scottish storytellers that has grown and is now going to over-seas festivals.’
Smith and his team have looked to the islands for inspiration this year, both at home and abroad, with contributions from Corsican, Cypriot and Sardinian storytellers, as well as home-grown talent from Mull and Bute. ‘There’s more music and some traditional dance weaving in with the storytelling this year,’ says Smith, ‘and that’s very characteristic of island culture – both in Scotland and in the Mediterranean.’
Perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of this year’s Festival, however, is a two-part storytelling extravaganza of Homer’s Odyssey at The Hub. ‘The Odyssey is full of stuff about storytelling,’ says Smith, ‘and when you hear it end to end, you realise the art and the power of the way it has been put together – it’s a masterpiece of oral storytelling.’
Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh and various venues, Fri 21-Sun 30 Oct