Over 250 years after his birth, Robert Burns’ influence on Scottish language and culture is alive and well. The Scottish Storytelling Centre is celebrating Burns and his poetry with a fresh programme of events that offers ways for everyone to explore and be inspired by Scotland’s great bard. From a new take on the traditional supper to nursery tales and family theatre, BurnsFest is a feast of language, song and story for a cold January.
The allure of Burns continues to be strong and it’s easy to see why, as Burns’ rich use of language and wit have provided centuries of dedicated fans, his magic with quill and paper providing the perfect material for storytelling and theatre to suit young and old alike. Burns’ legacy is an important element of the continuing traditional arts that the Storytelling Centre promotes and nurtures. Donald Smith, Storytelling Centre director says: 'There is no better place to celebrate Burns than in Edinburgh's Old Town. The scandals, the passions, the frustrations and even the corpses are right here.'
BurnsFest opens on Saturday 22 January, with an afternoon of Burns inspired storytelling for youngsters and two performances of a powerful theatrical piece about the man himself.
Sat 22 Jan, 2pm (1hr), £4/£3, 8+
Two Tales: Tam O’Shanter & The Goddess of War
Sat 22 Jan, 3pm & 7pm (75mins), £9/£7, 14+
Burns: Rough Cut
Two Tales: Tam O’Shanter & The Goddess of War at 2pm is lead by award-winning children’s author and storytelling Lari Don. Hear how Lari dared to retell the well known and loved Tam O’Shanter and how she went back 5000 years to research the almost unknown myth of Inanna, the Sumerian Goddess of War. Co-promoted by the Barrington Stoke story series for enthusing readers, expect readings, chase scenes, battles, spooky tales, witches and weapons, all interspersed with jovial Burns music.
Following an afternoon of tales, Burns: Rough Cut is performed at 3pm and 7pm, and is a perfect production to really get to grips with the complexity of Burns’ psyche. Written and directed by Donald Smith and starring Gavin Paul, meet the Bard in the raw – real and edgy. He’s in crisis and contradiction but at full creative stretch. This intimate portrait of Burns was premiered on the 2010 Fringe to critical acclaim, mixing live action and film to bring you an enticing Burns for the 21st Century. The piece explores the man behind the myth, but one who wears many masks as actor Gavin Paul explains:
‘I must admit up until eighteen months ago, my knowledge of Scotland’s bard was pretty average. I’d read the poems and attended the suppers much like everybody else but I had never asked the question, “who was he?’
Donald has given me huge depth to the character to work off and for these reasons, among many others it has made playing Burns one of the most enjoyable and rewarding I have had on stage.’
“raw, punchy and a universe away from shortbread tins” | The List ****
Burns: Rough Cuts is also being performed at the Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh on Tuesday 25 January and at Macrobert, Stirling on Thursday 27 January.
Mon 24, Tue 25 & Wed 26 Jan, 7pm (2hrs), £17.50, 18+
Supper with Burns
The Centre’s sell-out Supper with Burns at the Tass Bar returns for three nights this year, with the perfect mix of new and old. Haggis, neeps and tatties plus a trio of talented storytellers – David Campbell, Linda Bandelier and Donald Smith – add up to a new take on the traditional Burns supper and a night to remember. Expect a generous helping of Burns’ stories, song and lore.
Tue 25 Jan, 10am & 11.30am (40mins), £5 per child, Age 6 months to 3 years
Tiny Tales: Burns
Our monthly storytelling event for teeny tots provides a new take on the Bard, bringing out the fun in his work and presenting a playful way of introducing youngsters to the legendary poet and his contribution to Scots language. Storyteller Sylvia Troon presents a Burns themed session at 10am and 11.30am, incorporating Scottish fairytales with a guest appearance by Robert Burns and his mouse.
Tue 25 Jan, 2pm (2hrs), Free, All ages
Café Ceilidh: Burns
Fri 28 Jan, 7.30pm (2hrs 30mins), By donation (suggest £3), 18+
Linten Adie join in the celebrations with a free afternoon of music and song for Burns with a fun, engaging Café Ceilidh in the spacious Storytelling Court and we round off our Burns devotion with a specially-themed Guid Crack at the Waverley Bar. Guest teller Russell McLarty presents tales from the homeland of Robert Burns – Ayrshire and Galloway along with host for the evening, Andy Gray.
For further information or to arrange interviews contact:
Lindsay Corr firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 652 3272
Daniel Abercrombie email@example.com or 0131 652 3271
Box office 0131 556 9579
Notes to editors:
The Scottish Storytelling Centre is the national body for the support and development of the storytelling artform. The organisation is a partnership between the Scottish Storytelling Forum and the Church of Scotland, and is supported by the Scottish Arts Council, the City of Edinburgh Council and a wide range of charitable donations. http://www.scottishstorytellingcentre.co.uk/