Stories are vital to every part of Scotland, but this is especially true of the Hebrides, where Seanchas, or the storytelling tradition, lies at the heart of Gaelic culture. An Lanntair arts centre in Stornoway is therefore delighted to be launching their Seanchas series of activities this April, supported by EventScotland as part of the Year of Stories 2022.
Seanchas opens in the last week of April with the first of four storytelling residencies which will take place on Lewis and Harris, where local stories will be gathered and shared in rural communities. Author DS Murray will begin this series of events, and in the coming months UHI Lecturer Catriona Murray, actress Rachel Kennedy and singer Josie Duncan will explore the topics of the supernatural, children’s tales and stories linked to Gaelic song. The community will also feature in a series of short films which are being created for release throughout the year, and in a twist to the traditional Hebridean tale, An Lanntair plans to stage a live outdoor event this summer, based on Lewis author Kevin MacNeil’s novel The Brilliant and Forever. The event will incorporate a new story writing competition, with the short-listed pieces being read on the day.
Alex Macdonald, An Lanntair’s Head of Performing Arts explains, “In his book, the Isle of Lewis Kevin describes is similar to the one we know, except that human and alpaca populations co-exist. So we will have some real – rather than imaginary – alpacas present on the day in what promises to be an unusual, exciting and rather unique event.”
In addition, work has also begun on creating a series of special commissions on the modern day Hebridean stories linked to the theme of environment and conservation. These will focus on the work of Professor Frank Rennie, author of the Highland prize winning book The Changing Outer Hebrides, and a new partnership created especially for the Year of Stories between songwriter Colin Macleod and marine sculptor Sam MacDonald. The results of these commissions will be showcased in December, but An Lanntair plan to have a full programme of events running throughout the year which you can access at: www.lanntair.com/seanchas
Alex adds, “We think the Seanchas programme offers lots of opportunity to take part, from getting directly involved in community gatherings or the short story competition to simply spectating at live performances or accessing our online content. We are also offering a rolling programme of theatre, music and cinema events which reflect the Year of Stories theme from April till the end of the year and are working with a variety of partners to ensure that we reach as many audiences as possible. Ultimately, we hope that everyone will find a way to explore and celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories, and we are really looking forward to getting the programme underway.”
Culture Minister Neil Gray said: “The Hebrides has a rich tradition of storytelling, especially in the Gaelic language, and the launch of the Seanchas residences at An Lanntair will offer local people the chance to take part in a range of activities at the Stornoway arts centre.”
“As we are celebrating Scotland’s Year of Stories this year, I’m especially looking forward to reading the winning entries of the short story competition which I’m sure will contribute to the wealth of stories shared by the community.”