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Over 65 artists will be part of Beyond the Border 2021 Festival

Following the latest Welsh Government updates, and with two weeks to go, Beyond the Border – Wales’ International Storytelling Festival has confirmed its go ahead and announced over 65 artists will be part of the live festival at NT Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire as well as an innovative Online Festival, which will bring distinct and pioneering new ways of engaging with storytelling experiences digitally from homes across the UK and the world.

Beyond the Border is one of Europe’s leading storytelling festivals, with audiences travelling across the UK and the world to see some of the best storytellers, musicians and performers.

Naomi Wilds said, “Like many festivals across the world, after last year’s disappointed postponement, we are thrilled that we are able to confirm that most artists, including some brilliant extras, are still able to be a part of the 2021 Festival, which we have themed ‘Reimagining, Reawakening.”

“The last 12 months has been incredibly challenging for so many of us, but it has given us the opportunity to explore how we perform, create, programme and engage with audiences, many of whom are unable to be at the festival this year. As well as live face to face performances at the festival site, we are bringing some of our storytellers digitally from the other side of the world to Wales.”

Over 65 artists from across Wales, the UK and internationally will be part of the live programme including musicians Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita, Will Pound, Cynefin and Don Kipper; storytellers Hugh Lupton, Daniel Morden, Cath Little, Tamar Eluned Williams, Ben Haggarty, Michael Harvey, David Ambrose, TUUP, Guto Dafis, The Devil’s Violin, Peter Stevenson, Ailsa Mair Hughes, Fiona Collins and Amy Douglas.

With an incredible line up of musicians and storytellers there are also special highlights and ways to explore Beyond the Border’s home at Dinefwr, a stunning landscape, steeped in history and beauty.

Acclaimed storytellers Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton have joined forces with one of Wales’ most exciting new composers, Sarah Lianne Lewis, to create a visceral, moving and profound storytelling experience. Imagine listening in to stories told at night, while gazing up at the stars…and wearing headphones!

Stars and their Consolations conjures up Greek myths of some of the most prominent constellations in the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky. Performed indoors and outdoors during the storytelling festival, and online at home, audiences will be able to hear a fusion of ancient stories reimagined and illuminated by a unique and evocative soundscape.

Audiences will have the chance to be part of Storytelling Experiments at the festival and online. Be the first to hear Tim Ralph’s new piece which will be presenting on the outdoor screen and online; and Tamar Eluned Williams with her sister Morwen Williams will be looking at the role of women in folk song in Not Maid, Nor Widow, Nor Wife.

The Citrus Village will be home to family events and workshops delivered by Pontypridd’s Citrus Arts, a professional and community circus theatre company who tour to festivals across the UK. Their passion is not only performing but sharing their knowledge and skills within their community. There will be lantern making for the Closing Ceremony and circus workshops, as well as an adapted version of their award winning festival performance, Savage Hart. Close to Citrus Village is the Tiny Tent – storytelling for the under 8s. A short walk away there will be the Make & Share hut with Crankie Making workshops, sound mapping workshops and open story round sessions (for young people and grown-ups) surrounded by the beautiful Dinefwr woodland.

Beyond the Border has been a platform for supporting new voices to storytelling. Beyond the Border’s New Directions will be an opportunity to hear solo pieces from artists at the festival for the first time. This year, Sarah Liisa Wilkinson, Phil Okwedy and Saul Jaffe and Beyond the Border’s New Voices mentees Chandrika Joshi, Kestrel Morton and Ceri Phillips will be sharing extracts from their new pieces as well as talking through the mentoring scheme with BtB.

For 2021, Beyond the Border has created outdoor storytelling journeys. Story walks will lead audiences through woodlands, animated by stories embedded in the landscape and evocative artworks, plus we’ve a rich programme of story walks inspired by Dinefwr’s history and natural beauty, with Lisa Schneidau, Malcolm Green, Ceri Phillips and many others.

Storyteller Michael Harvey, dancer Eeva-Maria Mutka and musician Stacey Blythe will performing a new storytelling experience, a new bilingual performance based on the legend of the Carmarthenshire story, the Lady of the Lake. Performed on the Sunday afternoon of the festival, Llyn y Fan Fach features movement, myth and music which are combined to create a mythical experience at the top of the castle.

Beyond the Border in partnership with Festival Interculturel du conte de Montréal in Canada secured funding earlier this year to look at developing new ways of connecting artists and audiences together digitally at the live site and online.  For 2021 audiences at the festival site will be able to experience special digital screenings of Canadian storytellers – Ivan Coyote in their Cabin in the Yukon; Marta Singh sharing audio stories recorded in Canada but set in the Dinefwr landscape; and Tamar Ilana sharing passionate electro-acoustic music inspired by childhood memories.

Over the last year Beyond the Border with funding from Heritage Lottery Fund has been able to work with local storytellers, Mess up the Mess and Operasonic to deliver Discovering Stories project, working with four local schools in Carmarthenshire to create a unique opportunity to re-imagine the mythical and historical significance of the NT Dinefwr as part of the opening event on Friday.

As well as the live festival, Beyond the Border has created a two week distinct Online Festival programme which will feature interactive and intimate broadcasts, audio events, story walks, webinars and talks sponsored by The History Press and workshops from 26 June to 10 July. Just like a real life festival audiences will need to enter BtB’s virtual online festival doors, explore the virtual festival map to discover what events they want to go book onto. Tickets for each event are £10.60 but Beyond the Border has created the £53 Storyteller Explorer Ticket – a virtual wristband that gives audiences access to a curated digital experience of ten choice events from the Virtual programme.  Storyteller Explorer tickets allow virtual wristband holder to book first for interactive storytelling experiences on zoom including the New Voices and their mentors, songs and stories from Rachel Rose Reid & Tamar Ilana.

There is also an extraordinary phone call experience when someone will receive a one on one storytelling performance from a storyteller from the other side of the world. Storyteller Explorer Ticket Holders will be able to nominate someone for this rare opportunity.

Beyond the Border are also committed to make the festival one of the most accessible to date, with more captioned and BSL provision on site and online, working with access advisors Taking Flight.

Sandra Bendelow Festival Manager, said, “It’s been an incredibly challenging time for the events sector and our audiences. We at Beyond the Border are doing everything possible to prepare and make the festival the safest experience in July. We are taking guidance and working with Welsh Government and listening to Public Health Wales on what we will be able to do at the festival site. We will be one of the fortunate few cultural events taking place this summer. We want you to help us, and help create a space which we can all come together safely too. After a turbulent year it will be a joy to escape to an open space full of stories. You will be part of an exceptional and unique experience that will be talked about for years to come.”