Settle Storytelling Festival

Settle Storytelling Festival carries on this weekend; Catherine Yaffe talks to Sita Brand, Festival Founder…

Already one night in at the time of chatting and it’s very clear that opening night of Settle Storytelling Festival was a triumphant success. With Mara Menzies and Cath Little launching the 3 day event with lute playing, singing and of course storytelling, what’s not to love?

Instantly, when chatting to Festival Founder Sita Brand her enthusiasm for the event is obvious, and now in its 4th year this is a festival that is only set to get bigger.

Sita has a colourful background that is a story in itself. Born in India, then moving to Scotland before laying her roots down in Settle Sita has travelled everywhere in between but it was when she met husband Graham that she decided to make Yorkshire her home, “I fell in love with the landscape. Even whilst in Singapore I would yearn for the Dales and long to be in Yorkshire,” said Sita.

Sita is also effusive about making a difference wherever she is or has been in the world, which started at the age of 12 when she, along with her brothers and sisters, organised a party in the garden of their home for the street children, “I was taught from a young age that people are more important than things. It’s what you’re doing with your life that’s more important than possessions and money.” It was this view shared in a brief chat with Bill Mitchell that compelled Sita to find a way of working with him. It has resulted in creating the W.R.Mitchell Archive, a life’s work for the former editor of The Dalesman who recorded the many conversations he has had with Yorkshire folk throughout his long illustrious career. “I knew that we would work together in some way and it’s why I’ve been so passionate about the archive.” “The festival is carrying on the tradition of storytelling, and making people – and their stories – more important than things, here in Yorkshire,” said Sita. Bill Mitchell will be appearing At The Peoples Library on Saturday 12th October.

Wide ranging and diverse, this is story telling in rawest form. It’s inclusive, interactive and above all entertaining. Ever heard of the Cowfoot Prince? Sierre Leone’s Usifu Jalloh is an energetic story teller who uses music and drumming to sweep audiences up into colourful African landscape and carry them along in his own exuberant style. Very much a family event that involves young and old, the Cowfoot Prince has that rare story telling ability that transports the listener to another time and place. With a family ticket costing just £20 is there a better way of spending an afternoon with the kids?

Whilst the children may need to be a little older for The Devil’s Purse (Saturday night 7.30pm at Settle Victoria Hall) who could resist the story telling skills of internationally renowned artist Dominic Kelly. With even other professional story tellers asking how he does it, this is a fabulous opportunity to see the mesmerising performance involving fairies and goblins all woven into an intriguing tale. Dominic performs this relatively new show alongside Swedish musicians and creates a tale around the opening of a purse that really should never have been opened!

It’s easy in the fast moving pace of life to almost forget that stories are an intrinsic part of our lives; books, films, theatre and music are all taken for granted, and be honest – when was the last time you sat and listened to a story?

Sita rounded off our chat by reminding us that stories are the way we communicate and share our experiences so this weekend, put down the Kindle, unplug the iPod and treat you and your family to an indulgent story telling weekend as it should be seen and heard.

If you can’t make it across to Settle this weekend, the festival will be covered by Drystone Radio (106.9 fm).

One comment

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