As the moon wanes, the International Storytelling Festival ends another week with Open Hearth – New Moon, a whimsical culmination of folk tales and comedic short stories that help devise a relaxing ambience for the evening performances. Both the warm lighting and the communal singing help to bring both audience and storyteller together to absorb the wonderfully spun tales that encapsulate the theme of the new moon.
The stories presented to the audience are from a variety of origins; traditional Scottish folk tales and Gaelic songs are performed alongside Canadian traditional stories and Japanese stories about the Masters of Zen. The first half of the performances are traditional folklore stories that, when combined with song and music from the harp, help to bring the audience together to gather around the hearth and listen to these beautifully old stories. The tales are not only diverse in terms of international range, but also in tone. The second half of the performance is more comedic, with the story of the supposed first eclipse, as well as the wonderfully timed rendition of Moon River that brings the audience and storytellers once more together in song and laughter.
What also unites the audience around the storytellers’ hearth are the changes in the performance styles. The first speakers follow tradition in that they use a more spiritual and wise voice for their narratives; the tone of their voices is slower and filled with an emotion which helps spark the fires of that traditional tale. The tradition in tones mirrors the origins and brings the audience back to the way stories were traditionally traded, over a hearth and by live performance. The second half is far less formal and relies on the connection between performer and audience, all through the medium of singing. The result is a successfully comedic and incredibly relaxed performance for both performers and audience.
The overall atmosphere created by the low yellow lighting, intended to mimic the warm flickering light of a burning hearth, alongside these traditional and comedic stories, help create a restful and peaceful ambience. This performance allows for creativity and narratives to outshine all other things, a technique which effectively allows the audience to focus all their attention on these intimate folktales.
Open Hearth – New Moon was performed on 27 October 2019 as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival. You can find more details about the festival, and buy tickets for future events, here.
Image: Scottish International Storytelling Festival