Over 250 years after his birth, Robert Burns’ influence on Scottish language and culture is alive and well. The allure of Burns continues to thrive and it’s easy to see why, as his rich use of language and wit have provided centuries of dedicated fans, his magic with quill and paper providing the perfect material to suit young and old alike.
Join us as part of Scotland’s Winter Festivals for a Burnsfest feast of storytelling, theatre and song to celebrate the man from Ayrshire who penned some of the finest verses in history. Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said:
“As a nation, Scotland has a long history of storytelling and the Scottish Storytelling Centre is the ideal place to inspire the imagination. Scotland’s Winter Festivals celebrate key traditions – from first-footing to the poetry of Burns – so it’s the perfect occasion to enjoy one of our oldest pastimes: storytelling. From Burns Suppers to puppet shows, the programme is guaranteed to be a family favourite and a fitting tribute to our National Bard, Robert Burns.”
Burnsfest is a feast of language, song and story for a cold January. Events kick off a week before the Bard’s birthday on Friday 18 January with Burns workshop, Burns in Song – A Feast of Singing and critically acclaimed theatre, Burns: Rough Cut, and concludes with a Burns Family Day of entertainment on Saturday 26 January with storytelling, puppetry and a traditional ceilidh evening that Rabbie definitely would have approved of!
A Feast of Singing!
MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Award nominee Christine Kydd is one of Scotland’s leading singers and recording artists. With eclectic tastes, she is best known for her treatment of traditional and contemporary songs, with a special interest in Burns, especially with her North East routes linking to the Burns Family Tree!
A tutor in Scots Song for almost a decade at The National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music, Christine has taught master classes at many Further Education establishments and has a glowing reputation for her ability to make her workshops informative and fun, creating a community feel almost instantly.
The Centre is delighted to welcome her for a feast of Burns celebration. During Burns in Song – A Feast of Singing, Christine will inspire singing auld and new, allowing participants to develop singing technique and expression, gain insight into Burns’ language and background settings to the songs, as well as experience and discover the lesser known Burns songs.
Participant feedback from Christine’s previous session at the Centre in September with Active Learning: Songmaking and Celebration:
“Fabulous day, superb teacher, when will she be back?”
“Really great fun. It was such a buzz and felt really natural once we knew the melodies. Christine is a fantastic teacher.”
Burns: Rough Cut
After enjoying an afternoon of Burns song, enjoy meeting the Bard in the raw – real and edgy. Based on Donald Smith's controversial novel Between Ourselves, Burns: Rough Cut focuses on the pivotal crisis of Burns’ life and career – his stay in Edinburgh.
He's in crisis and contradiction but at full creative stretch. It’s the man behind the myth, but one who wears many masks. Rough Cut recreates Burns’ lost – or unwritten – diaries. We meet Scotland high and low through Burns' eyes, encountering the familiar with the unexpected. From William Creech to Clarinda and Jenny Clow to her pal Jessie, this combustible encounter between Burns and the capital city provides us with the actors, publishers, crooks, lawyers, painters, ladies and prostitutes of the town – not all mutually exclusive.
Burns’ legacy is an important element of the continuing traditional arts that the Storytelling Centre promotes and nurtures. Donald Smith, Storytelling Centre Director says: “There is no better place to celebrate Burns than in the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town. The scandals, the passions, the frustrations and even the corpses are right here.”
“Gavin Paul hits the mark brilliantly… Donald Smith's writing perfectly complements the dancing lyrical beauty of the Bard's work, capturing his essence with infectious excitement and biting wit.' **** Edinburgh Evening News
As well as the above, the Centre hosts varied events for adults to let their hair down and enjoy the beginning of this New Year through traditional arts that are guaranteed to enthral. Our regular free event Café Ceilidh, featuring Linten Adie, dedicate many a Scottish lilt to Burns on Tuesday 22 January at 2pm, and Edinburgh’s monthly storytelling club Guid Crack: Animal Magic, offers an evening of animal tales with animal lover Rabbie sure to make an appearance or two with timorous beasties and robins, on Friday 25 January at 7.30pm.
Supper with Burns
Plus, after four years of sell-outs, Supper with Burns returns for two nights in the sumptuous setting of the Storytelling Café, offering the perfect mix of old and new as reviewer, Lara Dunston perfectly sums up: “An entertaining piece of drama that skilfully interwove stories about Burns’ life with his songs and poetry within the traditional Burns Supper format.” – GranTourismo
Come along on Wednesday 23 or Thursday 24 January at 7pm for a winning combination of Scottish storytelling served with hearty haggis, neeps and tatties. Let your stomachs be filled and your souls be enriched with songs, stories and poetry from master storytellers David Campbell and Linda Bandelier, who avoid Burns kitsch with a fresh take and exciting twist on the usual Burns Supper, offering a chance to discover the real, radical spirit of the man which echoes throughout his work. Burns’ surreal imagination, instinctive democratic radicalism and his celebration of love and desire in a culture famed for repression and hypocrisy is all explored, with a wry smile of course…
Burns Family Day
You’re never too young to get a taste of Burns’ legacy as the Centre, supported by Scotland’s Winter Festivals, showcases Burns for ages 5 and up on Saturday 26 January, drawing inspiration from Burns’ rich language and promising an entertaining, enthralling and informative day for youngsters, and the young at heart.
Macastory, comprised of storytellers Fergus McNicol and Ron Fairweather, have an enviable back catalogue of goodies for a younger audience with their ability to perfectly combine fantastic storytelling, drama, fun and education in an exciting and innovative way.
At 11am they present a new show, The Twa Rabbies, which serves up a conundrum of identity as two Rabbies are claiming to be the true Bard! Through tall tales, songs and poetry galore discover the untold adventures and secret stories behind Burns’ works with an audience vote to ensure the real Robert is revealed!
Then at 2pm, master storyteller, performer and puppeteer Sylvia Troon presents her interpretation of the life and work of Burns through her wonderful, lifelike figures in We’ll a’ be proud o’ Robin. A fun, interactive afternoon that, as Sylvia states “will bring the past alive in a fascinating way with storytelling and authentic-looking puppet characters”. Plus, the Burns puppet is truly adorable!
We round up our Family Day with an event for young and old alike to enjoy Burns’ verse and music with Burns an’ a’ That at 7pm. Burns could only have approved of a welcoming, traditional ceilidh evening of Scots story, song and music, combining atmospheric readings and personal thoughts in an event that celebrates the very best of The Bard in a captivating revue by storyteller Tim Porteus and the Pans Tellers, who make Burns accessible to all.
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