“Had I known but yesterday what I know today,
I’d have taken out your two gray eyes
And put in eyes of clay;
And had I known but yesterday you’d be no more my own
I’d have taken out your heart of flesh
And put in one of stone”
– Tam Lin
For some reason, this passage from the legendary Scottish ballad Tam Lin chills me to the bone. In the tale, Tam Lin is kept from his true love by the Queen of the Fairies. Stories like this are not uncommon in European folklore; in fact, all the best tales are filled with love in all its tumultuous forms.
Unlike so many other things in this world, stories transcend time. They tumble through generations, ping-ponged back and forth between family members and inevitably morphing into moral tales designed to stop small children in their curious tracks. Today, stories are printed neatly in the crisp, brightly coloured pages of children’s books or splashed across a big screen in all the technicolour 3D glory the movie companies can muster. Rarely are they bellowed out across a church hall or whispered in hushed tones around a flickering bonfire.
Storytelling is theatre in its purest form. One person takes the stage (possibly two or three if there’s accompanying music), and that’s it. With the boundless depths of your imagination to delve into, what need can you possibly have for props?
Beyond The Border is the perfect outlet for this wonderful form of creative expression. Set in the heart of Glamorgan with a glorious Medieval castle as a backdrop, this three day festival transports you into a world where girls become boys and blue bearded tyrants use meat hooks in some rather unsavoury ways.
Below is a brief summary of just some of the acts we saw and why they were worth every penny. The next BTB festival will take place in 2014 at an as yet undecided location. Dive head-first into the fairytale world at http://www.beyondtheborder.com/.
- The Three Snake Leaves by The Company of Storytellers – An inspired rendition of the Grimm Brothers’ classic, with plenty of suffering, repentance and (naturally) a happy ending.
- She’koyokh – A Balkan band with a strikingly unique sound topped off by an unbelievably talented set of musicians.
- Ferdowsi & The Shahnameh by Nick Jubber – An epic Persian poem and extraordinary travels through Iran and Afghanistan.
- Looking for Grandpa’s Island by Pam Faro – A true story of one woman’s search for a name in the wilderness of Norway.
- The Girl Who Became A Boy by Jo Blake Cave & The Glowglobes – A tale of opposites (and a whole lotta girl power) with some funky double bass thrown in.
- The Fantasist by Theatre Temoin and Cle – A rather chilling insight into the world of an artist with more than her fair share of demons…
- Shudder by Daniel Morden – A lively tale of a simple lad who, in his quest to ‘shudder in fear,’ finds himself bowling a ghostly head and sitting on the Devil (literally).
- Trickster by Dominic Kelly – A wartime ‘Catch Me If You Can’ featuring a flame haired cheeky chappy from Mansfield.
- Bluebeard by Cat Weatherill – A screaming good story of a mysterious blue bearded man with more than a few secrets up his sleeve.