By Tobias Hudson
The 2022 Village Storytelling festival saw its relaunch after two years of postponement this
Friday. It’s an exciting hybrid event that looks at ways to explore the human connection
through a variety of mediums. Emma Collins, Creative Producer of the Festival, explained
what the central themes were after a return to in-person events.
The theme is reconnection and transformation. Storytelling in a precarious world. It’s
based on the idea that the world has been in a state of flux over the last few years,
and while there’s a lot of things that might not be secure, what we do know is that
stories can bring people together no matter what their situation is. We’re also looking
at a number of digital experiments and storytelling of the future. Some of the shows
are live streamed as well, and as the world’s oldest tradition, it’ll always find new
ways to form. It’s how we make sense of ourselves and the world around us.
There’s nothing like being in the same room as people and experiencing the same
story. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully get away from that experience.
Whether it be a show, a workshop or an exhibition, the festival revolves around the creation
and presentation of stories for all ages. A tradition as old as language itself, humans have
always passed on their traditions and beliefs from generation to generation. These practices
are carried on here in Glasgow today, with the subject matter only limited by your creativity.
All ages are attended to encourage, with shows both online and in-person for the whole
family. Where else in Glasgow would you be able to find breath-taking aerial acrobatics
alongside folklore mayhem from the highlands? Many of the stories come from commissions,
and offer new and experimental methods that break the boundary between performer and
audience. I was at the launch, and saw the festival get into the swing of things. One of the
performers is Daniel “Story Man” Serridge.
Known for a fun and exuberant style of performance, his show FEAST OF FOOLS looks to
capture a lively story-telling scene for all ages across a banquet table and some measly
meals. He gave us a riveting taste at the launch, where accompanied by a harp player, he
told a mediaeval tale of fairies and greed. Curious to know about how performances can be
made so interactive, he talked to me about his dynamic relationship between the audience
and the performer.
[Feast of Fools] is a family show that’s based around banquets and large-scale meals.
The audience comes in and there’s a circle on paper plates. People “dine” with me on
a menu of stories, either disgusting or delicious! It uses a lot of traditional oral
storytelling techniques like riddles and tongue-twisters. They’re all interweaved
together. Within every story, there are significant meanings as well as sillines. I think
you need it all. A story can merge from one to the other in the drop of a hat. It’s the
same as a comedian. You can go from some really dark material to hitting them with
something light. Our lives are filled with both light and dark, and the stories should
reflect the humanity of our experience. Sometimes when you’re going through
sadness, you need someone there to make you laugh. A story can do all of those
things in a single narrative.
My stories are very influenced by the room that I’m in and the interactions that take
place as I speak. It took me a long time to accept that I’m not a writer, and that
everything flows very freely. I have to be at peace at that. Everything exists in the
moment, and that’s the facet of storytelling that fascinates me. Any story that’s been
passed down is different every time and that’s what I try to capture in my writing. I
usually have a structure, but I’ll have a few rehearsals where I have a few threads that
I run through, but what occurs on either side is dependent on other things. The words
are changing based on the experience, there’s definitely a two-way interaction
between me and the audience.
Raymond Wilson is also presenting a very different show, I HOPE YOUR FLOWERS
BLOOM. It explores post-pandemic realisations of the self and what it means to be a man
against the backdrop of an unforgiving working class world. For Raymond, the balance
between reality and storytelling has always been a fine line, and knowing how much of
yourself to put out onto the stage remains an art that he still wants to explore. Especially
when you know that the subjects of the story might be sitting in the front row…
It’s a story about ancient plants and modern relationships! It’s a working-class person
who wants to escape their environment and a friend takes them out into nature. It
explores masculinity, working-class connections to nature, self-worth, school. It’s
semi-autobiographical, and the story goes between the person being inside an urban
environment that’s quite grey and boring, and they see nature as the escape to where
they can be more relaxed and colourful.
He told me a bit about the balance between putting yourself into a story and building up a
The whole process developed from a first draft that just happened, word for word
from my life and what I wanted to say. As it went on, it had to become a story.
Bringing a narrative to it sees it come further from real life, and you have to tweak
some aspects to protect yourself and others in the story. It’s a hard balance really,
knowing what to include, what works and what wouldn’t, and what might potentially
upset people in the story. I want to be honest and tell a compelling story, but I also
had to make sure that I’m not drawing everything from real life. Otherwise it could
look like I’m just venting!
Raymond’s show was a triumph of storytelling, combining a passionate love story with a
realisation of what it means to be a man in a working class world.
I also attended the first event on the 5th, MORE THAN A FOOTNOTE: A QUEST TO
RESTORE QUEER STORIES. It told the story of a searching for whethe there existed a
highland parable, long lost to time that portrayed a story of queer love. Parallels were drawn
between the modern struggles that LGBTQIA+ face in representation, and the tale of a
highland girl lost in the mountains many years ago. The story took on a variety of forms,
physical, musical, experimental and otherwise. Deeply funny and thoughtful in equal
measure, it revelled in its irreverent interactions with the audience, leading for a show that
felt equal parts impromptu and carefully scripted. Despite the twists and turns, the narrative
held strong and transcended the medium itself. The forms presented on stage where not and
could not fully represent the message that the story told. That is where the true power of
storytelling lies. To present the pieces of a new and unique puzzle that the audience can
then construct in whatever way they like.