Thursday, 22 April 2010

April Skies

Amidst the drama of ash-clouds and air traffic absence, political placards are sprouting up as fast as the bluebells and wild parsley....and in the WSF office bundles of leaflets are winging their way to libraries, Tourist information centres, cafés, noticeboards, schools, bookshops – inviting friends new and old to take advantage of the 10% discount offer on all tickets which ends on Friday 30th April. Have you booked your tickets yet? Why not get them for less? You can now book on line with Paypal, credit or debit card or you can download a booking form and send it with a cheque.

Only four yurt spaces remain – so if you want to stay at the festival without bringing all your camping gear – speak to Clare fast on 01647 252983 or e-mail her

Renowned Ashburton storyteller and mythologist Martin Shaw will be at the Festival all weekend running workshops, telling stories, promoting the Westcountry School of Myth (which runs a year course of five weekends on Dartmoor) and he will be interviewing some of the big names of the storytelling world at the Festival on the theme of Stories for Change. Most excitingly, as a highlight on the Saturday, he has announced an all-night telling of the great European grail myth Parsival - a deep story for change – he recommends rugs, a thermos of coffee and a taste for high adventure if you want to plunge into this incredible myth for the night!

Other exciting news this month is that the Marquee will have a solar-powered stage; there will be raft-building on the lake for young people on Saturday and Sunday and for younger children there will be tractor rides. The programme is bursting at the seams and a draft of it should soon be downloadable on the website (all the storytellers are booked but have to confirm days and times yet, so it is very much a draft).

Craft traders are starting to book and there will be a market place to browse for natural goodies. Food at the Festival is expanding as Embercombe prepares to build two more outdoor clay bread ovens in May (we could do it as a course if 10 people are interested in how to make one in their own garden – telephone Sue on 01647 252983 if you're interested – about £100 for the weekend including food and accommodation or cheaper if you don't stay and bring a packed lunch!) This will mean four ovens producing sizzling organic pizzas, plus there will be organic ice creams, waffles, a salad bar, different meals each day including vegan and gluten-free options and breakfast! Of course, Embercombe's delicious home-baked cakes and flapjacks will be on sale all day along with tea, coffee and soft drinks.

So this is the moment to spread the word about the Festival – also remember this blog is interactive – you can comment (I did wonder if anyone was reading it – but there are some followers now, which is encouraging!). Let us know what you liked about past festivals, what you would like to see at this one, how you feel about the new venue and any feedback on the website and publicity in general – it's all very helpful to us.

The Celtic summer will begin on May 1st – this is a time of change and of action if we want to meet the challenges of our age. The Festival will be fun and entertaining and rich with all sorts of things to do, to eat, to buy, to watch, to debate, to participate in, but this is also a chance to get inspired by the possibility for deep change in our own lives and as a species living on the planet. The Festival is for people of all ages to experience community and support as we face difficult issues with renewed vision and it will celebrate the power of story to impart ancient wisdom, open up possibilities for transformation and inspire us to action. Look to the skies!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

March Mayhem

Whew – March has been busy. Staying in a beautiful yurt during the Festival is proving a popular option and yurt places are rapidly filling up. We've had bookings from Italy and Japan as well as closer to home and we're looking forward to a rich cultural mix of stories, tellers and audience over the Bank Holiday weekend.

The flier is out! Click here to download it (2.2Mb). If you are able to display or would like to distribute these to give more people an opportunity to enjoy this wonderful festival, contact Sue on 01647 252983 or email and I'll send you some!

Recently confirmed is the involvement of the whole Transition Movement with Rob Hopkins (founder) speaking and Wynne Alice making us the penultimate stop on her six month tour of Britain gathering Transition Tales. The theme of Stories for Change unites us all in envisioning a future where we are connected to the land and the deep wisdom found in stories.

Embercombe is basking in glorious spring sunshine: daffodils are nodding, crocuses are popping up, catkins are everywhere and the snow drops are closing up into the earth again. It's been a long, real, wonderful winter and Spring feels like a true blessing this year.

Remember to book your place before the end of April to take advantage of 10% discount on ticket prices – we are currently mapping out camping areas and we're thinking of offering a family site, a quiet site and some even quieter spots in the woods and near the lake (no children lakeside, I'm afraid), for those who don't mind being a few steps further away from the amenities. All spaces will be on a first-come-first-served basis, so call Clare on 012647 252983 or e-mail her if you want to secure a special place. Maps of the areas will be downloadable on the website soon.

You can travel light to the festival this year, saving car transport. We have yurts available to book, and tents to rent (£5 per night, £12 for three nights). There will also be plenty of food outlets providing organic food (BBQ, café (serving breakfast too), waffles, pizzas from outdoor clay ovens and more) all at affordable prices plus a shop supplying camping necessities including bread, milk etc. We can pick people up from Exeter Railway station for £2 and are hoping to offer a Totnes/ Buckfastleigh/ Ashburton bus morning and evening if there is sufficient interest. So if you want to bus in each day and not camp – ring Clare on 01647 252983 or e-mail her to book a provisional place and ensure the bus runs.

The draft programme has taken longer to draw up than we expected mainly because of lots of last minute offers to bring extra exciting elements to the Festival, some from across the Atlantic – films, spoken word, poetry, community singing - we're juggling to see what we can fit in but it's going to be a packed programme! Who is performing on which days should be down-loadable from the website in early April.

This is going to be a Festival to remember – bring your friends, bring your family – the earlier you book, the more financial security we have and the more treats we can lay on for you!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Spring buds

Our first booking this morning! In the shivery, dull, February mist someone has seen the gleam of the summer bank holiday and booked for the whole family! Actually a few have booked unofficially, but this came just after the website went live, so it sent a ray of sunshine into the office.

Another spring bud has sprung: we are confirmed for a pre-Festival performance of storytelling at the Phoenix Arts Centre in Exeter on Thursday 26th August at 7.30pm just to whet the appetite for the feast of storytelling at the weekend. Performers to be announced soon. Plus we hope to have some free performances in libraries and parks in Exeter and Teignbridge in the run up to the Festival – so watch out for those if you're local.

The Festival Programme is coming to life in rainbow colours. Look out for a complete draft on the website (if it will fit!) - in the next couple of weeks and don't miss out on the 10% discount for tickets booked in February, March and April. Call Clare on 01647 252983 or e-mail her:

The leaflets advertising the Festival will be out this month, too. Powerful images of storytelling at its best, including performers from the 2008 festival: Robert Bly, Ben Haggerty, Daniel Deardorff. 2010 performers Jan Blake, Cat Weatherill and Hugh Lupton are there too. If you have any thoughts about places where it would be good to put some leaflets contact

For those who have any doubts as to the relevance of the unique, ancient and potent art of storytelling, follow this link to Hugh Lupton's website and read some of the reviews of his performances. Here's my favourite: “I went to the Barbican the other day to listen to two of Britain’s finest storytellers – Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden – recounting the Iliad, the tale of that great quarrel from which all western literature springs. The seats were uncomfortable… but the hours flew by. These two men had to do no more than tap into the ancient power of the spoken word to hold an entire audience in their thrall. A veil of typescript fell from my eyes. I saw Helen in all her intoxicating beauty standing amid the bloody chunks of a slaughtered stallion. I saw Achilles aglitter in gold armour before his black ranks of Myrmidons. I saw banquets and voyages, armies and oceans, battling heroes and ravening gods – all conjured out of thin air by a voice. Film is often thought to be a threat to literature. But the images that billowed and faded in that darkened auditorium were quite different from those that unspool across a screen. I could put my hands in front of my face and the pictures would not vanish. They were inside me. They belonged to me. They were part of the history of the whole of human life.” Rachel Campbell Johnson, The Times, March 2005.

And here's one more: “For me the climax was Hugh Lupton’s masterly rendering of ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’, in which he seemed to become possessed by the story. It was more intonation than recitation and swept away all bad memories of A level set texts.”
The Times Educational Supplement

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Hatching the Festival

People say January has been slow. They've been hibernating with all the snow and ice. Keeping warm by log fires and telling stories.

It's been a dynamic time for the Festival, though. Over twenty fabulous storytellers booked to appear, plus amazing local folk musicians and partner organisations lined up – all inspired by the theme of story, song and sustainability. The venue is booked at Embercombe and web-site is up and running.

So the story of the Festival is off to a good start in 2010: a magical valley, a strong cast of characters, a plot to save the world, or more accurately, ourselves, from will be an exciting weekend. Check out some of the links on the website to amazing people, places and outfits: there's a rich cauldron of talent.

We have such an abundance of performances & activities happening at the festival this year it's been difficult to describe them all on the website: early morning T'ai Chi; discussions on what myth is and how it changes and affects our lives; story-walks onto Dartmoor; a participatory theatre piece on the theme of climate change; film projects and newly commissioned stories. And that's just for the grown-ups! We are planning bedtime and yoga stories; toy theatre; puppets; craft activities and walks for little ones; plus: fireside stories; activities on the lake; theatre and wildcraft skills for children and lots for teenagers and young adults including Kung Fu; film workshops; bands and their own fireside/tent. It will be a family camp to remember!