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Go Beyond Words at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival this October

There is no greater pleasure than the power of traditional storytelling taking listeners on a journey of the imagination.

Joseph Naytowhow Image Credit: James Page

The 31st Scottish International Storytelling Festival features 60 events in Edinburgh and 22 throughout Scotland, with 20 international guests joining 60 Scottish artists to share old traditions and new connections, showcasing how music, dance and story communicate shared experiences that are ‘Beyond Words’.

There are 6 exhibitions to explore, including a sound installation of contemporary Scottish stories and music, a Gaelic Day on Tuesday 29 October, plus open floor opportunities at ‘Guid Crack Storytelling Session’ and our Halloween marathon – ‘The Devil & the Clutch of Fools’.

The international exchange focuses on Scotland & Canada, exploring their closely interwoven identities and histories, as First Nation and Scottish tradition bearers share and compare their story, dance and song inheritance, with further insights during ‘Meet the Storyteller conversations, which will ebb and flow like the waterways that join and divide the two nations, featuring Cree First Nation Storyteller Joseph Naytowhow, Mi’kmaq and Acadian storyteller Robert Seven Crows Bourdon and Nacho Nyak Dan First Nation Storyteller Louise Profeit-LeBlanc to name a few.

Deborah Dunleavy

Canada’s Deborah Dunleavy explores Scottish connections through the fascinating life of Isobel Gunn who disguised herself as a man in 1805 to work as a labourer in the then wilderness of Rupert’s Land, while Scotland’s Fiona Herbert reimagines some of Scotland’s greatest myths at ‘Corryvreckan: Inspiralled Tales’.

The Global Lab week features keynote speeches, debates and explorations of the role of storytellers in the 21st century, from the politics of folktales to transforming myths to explore nature, reconnect and provoke change. The annual ‘Alan Bruford Lecture’ gives insight into the Fianna cycle of tales,with a focus on Fionn and his men in the maritime context, while we are excited to feature British Columbia’s Dancers Of Damelahamid, who showcase contemporary takes on traditional forms of indigenous performance.

Festival on Tour is coordinated by regional storytelling teams with guest storytellers visiting Angus, Argyll & Bute, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee, Fife, Glasgow, Highlands, Moray, the North East, Orkney, Perthshire and the Scottish Borders to meet with local performers and audiences.

Dancers of Damelahamid

Plus, the annual ‘Enchanted Garden’ day for all ages presents storytelling in-situ at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, with sessions in the Botanic Cottage as well as story journeys amongst the beautiful autumnal surroundings.

Perfectly positioned with Scotland’s ‘A Year of Conversation 2019’, SISF will nurture a space to express shared human values, aspirations and hope for the future.

Whether you’re a storyteller yourself, a listener, or someone who is completely new to the craft, let SISF take you Beyond Words this autumn.

‘Drift into exotic worlds as talented storytellers from all over the globe regale you with tales of derring-do.’ (Bristol Post)

Scottish International Storytelling Festival: Beyond Words runs from Friday 18 to Thursday 31 October 2019.

Browse Advanced Programme

You can register as a Festival Supporter to enjoy great ticket deals and an array of benefits. For just £24, you can fully immerse yourself in the celebrations, as well as support SISF to continue to provide a world-class forum for the art of storytelling.

  • Full Programme available on Monday 2 September
  • Full SISF Programme on sale Friday 6 September