Beyond the Border, Wales’ International Storytelling Festival held a one day online mini-festival on 4 July to mark the occasion when the festival would have been taking place at its new home National Trust Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire.
Reimagine: Beyond the Border Online, a 1-day mini-festival, was presented on Beyond the Border’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and Zoom, and included a mixture of free and ticketed live streams and pre-recorded storytelling and music in English and Welsh.
Thousands of audiences from across Wales, the UK and as far as Australia, America, Canada, Singapore, South Africa and across Europe enjoyed a rich variety of pre-recorded stories, for families and adults, which remain available for four weeks, as well as joining the live broadcast stream on the day.
The 11-hour event (with breaks!) opened with a warm welcome from storyteller and Beyond the Border’s Engagement Co-ordinator, Tamar Eluned Williams, followed by family stories in Welsh and English from Cath Little, Mair Tomos Ifans and Hand to Mouth Theatre, introduced by storyteller Michael Harvey and including two captioned stories. Committed to showcasing Welsh to the rest of the world and supporting the development of Welsh Language storytelling, Beyond the Border created a pre-recorded programme for Welsh Learners, ideal for beginners to intermediate level, with stories by Fiona Collins, Cath Little and Guto Dafis.
Beyond the Border also transported audiences to the new festival home with a special pre-recorded story filmed at Dinefwr in Carmarthenshire by Phil Okwedy and filmmaker Sam Irving, and to Dartmoor with Lisa Schneidau, both sharing stories awakened by these beautiful landscapes.
In a first for Beyond the Border, from 4 – 9pm the festival shared 3 hours of live broadcast using Zoom. Storytellers broadcast live into people’s homes and as well as seeing the storyteller face to face audiences were able to engage and interact with each other. Over the course of the evening, audiences were transported into a virtual story tent to enjoy funny and wise stories and conversation with Clare Murphy in Dublin, Ireland and Kevin Kling in Minnesota, USA reflecting on the reimagined world we’re moving into. Storytellers Ceri Phillips, Siân Miriam and musician Owen Shiers shared stories and song rooted deeply in Wales, with BSL interpretation from Tony Evans, and the final hour saw festival favourite TUUP, Mair Tomos Ifans and a finale 15 minute Ceilidh with The Urban Folk Theory, complete with audience dancing.
Artistic Director, Naomi Wilds said, “Festivals are a great opportunity to discover new and fun experiences and to celebrate together. We were so impressed at audiences’ bravery and adventurousness, entering into these digital realms with us and bringing them to life. As well as the chance to simply have a great time together, the event helped us investigate the kinds of stories people want to hear and be sharing in these times, and what kinds of experiences we can create together in these new and evolving live spaces. We learned such a lot, and are keen to keep hearing feedback from audiences, so that we can keep connecting in many different ways up to the time when we can meet together in person once more.”