In the Flow – SISF 2020 will explore Scotland’s coasts and waters through music and storytelling

We’re excited to announce that the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, which runs from 17 – 31 October 2020, will keep you ‘In the Flow’ with an eclectic mix of online events and small-scale face-to-face performances, 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. 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 are subject to Scottish Government guidance in the autumn period.

SISF Director Donald Smith states:

‘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.’

Our online programme will see the return of SISF favourites like our evening gatherings around the Open Hearth, as well as the workshop series Global Lab, bringing performers, educators and activists together to discuss international environmental creativity. We’ll also be premiering Voyage, a brand-new series of work developed by storytellers and musicians, including 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.

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, while the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s Café will hold safely distanced sessions as people rediscover the joy of ‘eye to eye, mind to mind, and heart to heart’.

The Community and Families Programme, which runs from 12 Oct – 30 Nov, will pair local storytellers with partner organisations in online and small-scale live settings, unlocking the ethos of ‘going local’. The Festival’s national reach is supported jointly by Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Government through the PLACE programme, and these will continue beyond the Festival dates as community-based work again becomes possible.

Gary West, Chair of TRACS says:

‘Now more than ever do we need to be taken on journeys to other places and other times, to see and hear ourselves reflected in them as we are now. I am absolutely delighted that the Festival will go ahead this year, as ambitious and thought-provoking as ever.’

‘Whether joining us from afar or as close-up as circumstances allow, let us gather to celebrate the diversity of the traditional arts of the world.’

In 2020 SISF will present many free though ticketed events, but there will also be an opportunity to donate in support of the performers, and there will be some charges for workshops and studio commissions. Overall, the aim is to support as many performers as possible, and to reach out to as wide a public as we can, locally, nationally and internationally.

Set sails with us this autumn and stay in the flow with all the latest news around the Festival by following our hashtag, #SISFInTheFlow and connecting with us online: