Press Play to hear Brother Wolf speak with David Ambrose on the foundation and running of the International Storytelling Festival of Wales.
Picture a fairytale castle perched on a cliff-top on the romantic Welsh coast; at the foot of the castle, a medieval jousting field, fringed by woodland, the tower of an ancient Saxon church rising above the trees. Terraced gardens slope gently down from the castle to the sea. In every garden, there is a tent. And in every tent, a storyteller….
This is St Donats Castle, the setting for Beyond The Border Wales International Storytelling Festival, which I set up with the help and encouragement of leading UK storyteller Ben Haggarty in 1993. Ever since then, BTB has been dedicated to exploring and celebrating the world’s rich heritage of oral tradition, bringing to Wales an unparalleled selection of storytellers, epic singers and musicians from the four corners of the earth, and creating for itself a worldwide reputation as a unique haven for traditional story. The result has been the growth of a remarkable quality of listening. Where else could you find several hundred people sitting in a Mongolian–style yurt, listening in rapt attention to the mesmerizing recital of a 1,000 year-old Kyrgyz epic, while acrobats and fire jugglers entertain hundreds more on the castle Lawns, a European Wonder Tale unfolds to cello accompaniment in the Rose Garden, and in the magnificent Great Hall of the Castle, an audience is spellbound by a tale from the Arabian Nights? Unfortunately for that loyal audience of listeners, the changes of funding that often upset arts events like this forced the festival to take time off over the last couple of years.
But the good news is that Beyond the Border is back! In July this year, Britain’s leading international festival of storytelling returns to its spiritual home of St Donats Castle, on the beautiful S Wales coast, for another spectacular weekend of stories by the sea!
For three glorious and magic-filled days, the grounds of our fairytale castle will echo with the sound of stories from Wales and the World…Silk Road stories….travelers’ tales….stories and songs from Celtic Britain…1001 Nights….stories & music from West Africa & The Caribbean…..Tales To Sustain….
A stellar line-up includes storytellers and musicians from Italy, Turkey, Greece, Egypt, Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Nigeria and from right across the British Isles.
Together they will entertain and illuminate, amaze and amuse an audience drawn to St Donats Castle from across the UK and from around the globe, an international audience attracted not only by the breadth and quality of the programme, but also by the magnificent, other worldly atmosphere of the location. To visit Beyond The Border really is to be in a fairy tale come true. We hope you can join us. To learn more about Beyond The Border 2010 and find out how to get tickets and join the BTB email list, visit http://www.beyondtheborder.com
Storyteller, Festival Director
“Kept children and adults spellbound. People cheered and cried for more.”
David Ambrose has been at the forefront of the storytelling revival in Wales for the past 20 years, as a promoter, a performer, and as Artistic Director of Beyond The Border Wales International Storytelling Festival .
Born in England in 1950, David Ambrose first worked as a promoter and performer as part of the Guildford Arts Laboratory in the late 60’s, before studying Drama at University of Hull and touring Britain for several years with Hull Truck Theatre Co.
He also worked as a farmhand, milkman, music journalist, reggae promoter and community theatre director, before moving to Wales in the 1980’s to be Director of St Donats Arts Centre for nearly twenty years.
For much of that time he has been involved in encouraging the revival of performance storytelling in Wales, presenting storytelling events in and around St Donats Castle on the South Wales coast, and in 1993 co-founding the Beyond The Border Wales International Storytelling Festival with storyteller Ben Haggarty.
As a performance storyteller, he tells for both adult and children’s audiences, performing regularly in theatres, community centres and schools across Wales, and appearing at international festivals around the world. He is also a founder member of the Tales From Beyond The Border Storytelling Company, with Megan Lloyd, Francis Maxey and composer Peter Stacey.
Festival appearances include Festival interculturel du contes du Quebec, Chepstow Festival, Toronto Festival of Storytelling, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, Fabula Storytelling Festival in Stockholm, Alden Biesen Festival in Belgium, and Healing Words Festival, Israel.
David has recently worked with The National Museum of Wales on a programme of Storytelling and Music Events as part of the UK Festival of Muslim Cultures, and has also been responsible for a series of innovative inter-generational storytelling projects taking place in communities across S Wales. He is currently working with 180 schoolchildren in a project for Young Storytellers in the S Wales town of Barry.
BEYOND THE BORDER
Wales International Storytelling Festival
Founded in 1993 and dedicated to celebrating the world’s oral traditions, Beyond The Border grew out of the activities of St Donats Arts Centre, which began to pioneer performance storytelling events in Wales in the late 1980’s.
Beyond The Border is now regarded as the leading festival of its kind in the UK, bringing together some of the finest storytellers and tradition bearers from around the globe to perform in the grounds of St Donats Castle on the S Wales Heritage Coast.
In addition to the bi-annual Festival weekend at St Donats, which attracts several thousand visitors from across the UK and overseas, Beyond The Border has also worked closely with other venues to create a wide-ranging programme of storytelling events taking place in Wales and England, including London’s Cric Crac Club, The Barbican Centre, The Centre For Ancient Technology, Coed Hills Rural Arts Space, Theatr Mwldan, Wales Millennium Centre, and numerous schools, colleges, hospitals and residential homes in South Wales.