Hastings eighth annual Storytelling Festival came to an end last weekend after a week of some wet and windy but successful events.
This year’s festival explored the town in a variety of creative ways. Gareth E. Rees started the week with his animated talk about supermarket car parks that was tested on Friday’s Midnight Run when the group visited sites around Queens Road with Gareth and Kit Caless who led creative storytelling through a variety of activities and stops.
Otherworld in Alexandra Park brought to Hastings from Northern Ireland gave audiences a spooky night-time audio trek through a trail of dark characters and tales inspired by local history. Audiences braved the rain across the Friday and Saturday evening performances whilst families explored the audio holograms on the afternoons. Afternoon tea conversations and story swapping popped up with Secret Platform Theatre who transformed Hastings Library and Borough Wines into a story-fuelled vintage tea parlour. Thursday night saw Mother’s Ruin, an LGBT cabaret formula from Manchester, pack St Leonards’ newest bar the Cactus Hound under the skilful hosting of Timberlina and friends.
Festival Patron Quentin Blake invited Axel Scheffler to introduce some of his famous characters including the Gruffalo at White Rock Theatre. Children (and adults) shouted the end of each line from this popular story. Axel stayed to sign books with tiny individual drawings for those lucky enough to meet him. The Festival programme also included a First World War puppet show by Thingumajig Theatre sharing a fable on war and friendship with evocative puppet characters, live music and an ever-changing set at Hastings Museum and Art Gallery. Puppets were also popular at the final Children’s Day with Long Nose Puppets who brought the new show Out Of The Hat to Stade Hall. This tied smartly to the Children’s Parade with children from many local schools creating Bonkers Hats with artist Sarah Evans. Spud and Yam had also worked in five Hastings schools with a new commission of stories and songs encouraging children to rethink the use of plastic were also part of Children’s Day that managed to survive the showers, and Dick Edwards (Chair) said: “We’ve brought high quality stories in a variety of ways to many new people across the week; many who have braved the November winds and rain to participate.”
“The week has included talks, music, drawing, puppets, comedy, acrobatics in a fun packed week,” said Festival Director, Mandy Curtis, of 18 Hours Events, who produce the festival. “We are very grateful to all our supporters and funders, including the Arts Council England and Hastings Borough Council.”
photography by John Cole.