Dagba in Muirhouse, Portobello and Westerhailes

save the world and sing this song

Storm Dudley put paid to our thoughts of travelling to the venues on the actual bicycles – but the beauty of the brompton is that it folds up small enough to travel on the buses and we did our mini-tour by bus numbers 27, 16, 21 and 30 – very satisfactory. And firey phoenix and the giants and genies were enthusiastically received in all our three libraries.

Wester Hailes was dominated by real life climate disaster under a corrugated iron roof during storm Dudley.  Laura, the librarian there ‘absolutely loved it… the music, the pictures, the audience participation.  A perfect mix between theatrical performance and interactive storytelling’   One family wanted photos beside the set afterwards which is very encouraging!

Dagba goes to Libraries

And we’re off again! Today I cycled down the canal on a lovely – if breezy – afternoon to do a reccy of Wester Hailes library space where Maria and I will be delighted to do a performance of Dagba’s Forest tales postponed for 2 years, but still faithfully waiting his turn!

We have three bookings for the half-term holiday with the support of the Puppet Animation Festival

West Pilton Community Centre, 10.30 Tuesday 15th February

Portobello Library 3 pm Tuesday 15th February

Wester Hailes Library 3pm Wednesday 16th February

And then we go to Mintlaw all the way up North for an outdoor performance at Aden Country Park 11am on Monday 4th April for a spring trip away! Very exciting, though I dont think we’ll be able to go the whole way there by bike this time! I shall post again about this one, and the logistics of taking an A3 plywood box construction complete with new ‘proscenium’ shelf, bicycle, buckets, cushions, instruments, singing bowls and costumes by train and bus up to the tip of Aberdeenshire, nearer the time, I’m sure.

We are streamlining this show every time we do it though, and I’m hoping to borrow a second Brompton for Wester Hailes so we can both arrive together along the canal without any recourse to bus or trains this time. Just as we envisaged it when we first thought of it 4 years ago now. How time does fly!

Two days to go!

“Cottongrass” featuring Maria MacDonell, Harriet Grindley and Kai Dudley presented as part of the 2021 Scottish International Storytelling Festival (© photographer – Andy Catlin http://www.andycatlin.com).

Look over there, says Elk.

Finally our performance at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival is hoving into view..Maria and I had a right old giggly run-through this afternoon, in my livingroom this time. Hopefully some of the fun will come through even if we get muddled with the pictures and the bounding on through the forests.. The story becomes ever more mysterious each time, perhaps that’s what keeps traditional tales so interesting!

What’s cooking in Leith?

Cottongrass – the product of the Andy Hunter Bursary and now the commission from the Scottish Storytelling Festival is finally brewing up a storm in Maria’s Leith Kitchen – our tale of a princess wandering off with Elk with its enigmatic ending is becoming clearer all the time – and more mysterious! We bring ritual, blessings, nature and dreaming into the pot and soon our circle will complete itself, ready or not, at the Festival on 28th October – its getting very close now!

Spread the word

Heartfelt Medley: A Burgh Blatherers Virtual Show on 19th June from 7.30 to 9.30

Join the Burgh Blatherers in a one-of-a-kind virtual show blending visual and oral storytelling to celebrate that the times they are a-changing and we are full of energy brought on by sunshine, blue skies and the prospect of new brighter horizons. In this show eight tellers have reached into their minds and hearts to present a wonderful variety of stories intertwined with song, music, poetry, sketches, images and video. As always, the most important ingredient is our audience.

This could be Burgh Blatherers’ last online show, let’s make it a very special one! Register for the event at the Scottish Storytelling Centre:

This event will be held on Zoom. During the event all attendees will be on screen and able to communicate via the chat function. If you have booked a ticket you will receive a confirmation email with your log in details. 

I’m looking foward to this one, Maria, Bob and I among other ‘Blatherers’ all showing off our newly acquired lockdown zoom skills, playing around with music and image backgrounds not usually available to us in the flesh!

Coming out for air!

A year on, a 5k runner and faltering Gaelic speaker to the good – we are beginning to pull our heads out of the online world and hope stirs that we may be telling stories to more than just the cat again soon! Not that we haven’t learnt to enjoy some of the aspects of online telling and developing ideas by zoom and phone. It feels like its been a deep dive, I hope some good will surface from this time for all our us.

Among the steep learning curve that is online teling, I was delighted to be asked to give a little piece about Wolves as part of the Winter’s Last weekend in January with Taibhshear collective.

Great news amongst the Bad – Andy Hunter Bursary

11 outings for Dagba on his bike, and the whole of Maria’s Minnie Lindsay run at the Edinburgh Festival are casualties along with so much else in the world of ‘arts and entertainments’ and we are confined to our houses and exiled into the internet for the duration.

But its not all bad. We are learning to dip our toes into technology.

And it is with HUGE delight that I can report that we have been awarded a bursary from the Andy Hunter Bursary fund to develop ideas using the kamishibai to hold performance space in an outdoor ritual or exploration which has allowed Maria and I to devote our Friday afternoons to regular teleconferencing and our weeks to various iterations of self-imposed ‘homework’

I am exquisitely grateful to the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Anne Hunter for giving us this amazing opportunity to impose structure on our time in isolation as well as the simple joy in development for its own sake.

New Season, New Box

Telling ‘The Lazy Snowdrop’ at Harrow Green Community Library just before the public gathering shutdown. A great crew of about 10 kids and their adults who thoroughly engaged with the myths and delights of springtime – even if dandelions seem rather thin on the ground in deepest Leytonstone! The new box went really well – it is absolutely pared back and can simply rest on my knee as I tell so it became an organic part of the telling, but can also be made a focal point to perform to or even put aside easily. A welcome addition to our flexibility with these cards – and a new suite of pictures from me to illustrate our spring flowers theme – channelling my inner botanical artist!

Miss Lindsay’s Secret

Maria’s amazing family project based on letters found in the Glen Esk Museum stunning evocative of two lost worlds – the rich and complex pre WW1 rural life of Scottish glens and the wilderness of the Canadian gold rush, written by Maria with music composed by Georgina with the letters brought to authentic life by Alan’s poignant reading gets two more well-deserved outings in a mini-tour of North-East Scotland. Shows at:

Johnshaven Village Hall Saturday Feb 15th 7.30 pm 

New Deer Village Hall Sunday Feb16th 3pm 

Tease your imagination and watch a taster here:


What have we been up to?

busy busy busy

Autumn has seen Maria outshine herself with the premier of Miss Lindsay’s Secret, a project she has been working on around letters from the Glen Esk Museum, which went down a storm at the Edinburgh International Storytelling Festival and is soon to tour the North East with fabulous original music from her daughter Georgina and resonant readings from Alan Finalyson.

Meanwhile Dagba has not been forgotten and has had a couple of outings on his bicycle which is becoming ever more integrated into the show in the library at the Scottish Storytelling Centre and soon to ride around Edinburgh in April next year as part of the Puppet Animation Festival – and even further if we can get our legs in training to take him!

And don’t forget Christmas! A couple of library tellings at the National Library of Scotland accompanied by Christmas songs to keep the ukuleles in tune, and our winter fixture, back with Bob Mitchell and the Burgh Blatherers, the Winter Warmer coming up on 6th December at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Finishing 2019 with a bang and making plans for 2020

Two weeks told, one to go!

Scottish tales from a Japanese box

Audience every day, a really good pub function room venue, fabulous festival energy from our fellow free fringers, and experience any budding storyteller would pay money out for doing the same show every day for 6 days – its a real baptism of fire for structuring the show depending on the audience in front of you, thinking on the hoof and, frankly, performing under pressure! All hugely enjoyable. If anyone is thinking of doing it next year I would pass on the tip that COMFORTABLE SHOES are essential: The fliering is relentless!

The result is a profit-making show, at last, however: We covered our costs on Thursday – we have six days to make the price of a slap up meal for the team in the dark days of September once the air is sucked out of Edinburgh and the Festival is over!

My best moment so far was fliering the same family again by mistake as they ate al-fresco macaroni cheese in George Square, and having the daughter ask her mum if she could go again because she’d enjoyed it so much the first time!