Johanna and I spent the weekend at Shropshire’s Festival at the Edge. We arrived on the Friday, a little too late to register, but were happy to spend the first evening catching up. We turned in around one but I fell awake as soon as my head hit the pillow. I took a walk instead, helped a stranger erect their tent by headlight and, a little more tired, returned to bed.

Saturday started with a run around Much Wenlock, which is a truly beautiful village. Sadly the run was a disaster and I stopped with a stitch after only 3 miles. I walked back to the site, took a shower, then grabbed some more sleep.

We spent most of Saturday listening to stories, as you’d expect. The main problem with storytelling festivals is that, after a night under canvus, nobody has slept well. It takes a good story teller to keep your attention (and keep you awake). We did OK, because half the performances we saw involved Peter Chand. Joh and I first saw him at Beyond the Border three or four years ago and he’s become even better since then. I love his use of Midlands accents in the stories, and it’s hard for me to imagine Vishnu and Shiva without Birmingham accents. Lost in Translation, a piece he performed with Shonaleigh, was particularly stunning. This mixed Jewish and Indian traditions and ended with the audience joining the bhanghra dancing at the wedding.

The coolest act we saw was Annamation, a three-woman troupe who mix storytelling with comedy. I loved their impression of the The Grey Ones.

Amy Douglas‘ performance, Special Brew, was my favourite type of storytelling, mixing memories with traditional stories. Starting with the deaths of two grandfathers and Duncan Williamson in the last year, Amy led on to the story of Jack and golden apples that bring eternal life. She made her conclusion that death is as natural as life seem reassuring.

FATE is a smaller festival than Beyond the Border but managed a very high standard of performances. The amenities were less sparse than when John and I went some years back, with a wider range of good food. I’m looking forward to going again next year.

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