The second weekend of the Scottish International Storytelling festival culminates with Open Hearth. Gary Green and Margaret Grenier from Canada, and James MacDonald Reid from Scotland, share their heartwarming stories with the audience. The cosy atmosphere of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s theatre, mixed with the magical music and beautifully told stories, are the perfect combination: an unforgettable memory.
The event reflects the historical ties between Scotland and Canada – a running theme at this year’s Storytelling Festival – while presenting personal stories of the storytellers or their ancestors. The audience gets to travel around the west coast of Canada with the fisherman and his wife and hear their wedding vows; or around Scotland, witnessing the challenges faced by members of various clans. With themes of life, death, love, and rebirth, these stories take the listeners from the beginning of the world to the end of human life or the death of a loved one. On the other hand, storytellers’ use of humour softens the melancholy that often fills the room. Such a wide variety of stories and quick tone shifts leave the audience with ambivalent feelings: happy and sad, excited and anxious at the same time.
The atmosphere is made yet more special by the accompanying music, so well aligned with the content of the stories. The motivating yet nostalgic sound of bagpipes at the beginning of the event sets the cosy mood. It also reminds the international audience of the setting of where we’re sat, in the heart of Scotland’s capital. It is impossible not to get absorbed by the melody of bagpipes, knowing you are on the lively yet mysterious Royal Mile, getting ready to travel in time with these extremely talented storytellers. Soon after, the audience gets to hear the beautifully-sung traditional Canadian melodies, creating a perfect background to emotionally demanding stories of determination, self-sacrifice, grieving and dealing with great loss.
Running throughout the year, not just during the Festival, Open Hearth is a magical event that anyone who wants a cosy, absorbing and interesting night should attend.
Open Hearth was performed on 26 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: Chris Randle