“Dark Tales” CANCELLED… Xanthe Gresham-Knight’s “Bag of Wonders” Now at Ventnor Fringe

We’re gutted to have had to announce that Daniel Morden has had to withdraw from this week’s Ventnor Fringe Festival show — we hope he makes a speedy recovery to full health — but really excited that Sue Bailey managed to catch up with Xanthe Gresham whilst at Festival at the Edge over the weekend and persuade her to bring her “Bag of Wonders” show in place of Dark Tales.

All tickets for “Dark Tales” will transfer to the replacement “Bag of Wonders” show (refunds also available on request… but you’d be missing a treat!)

Anyone interested in tickets for the replacement show (same time: 5-6pm, Weds 26th July, 2023; same place: Ventnor Arts Club) can get them from the original event page:

Storytelling that’s as sharp as a lemon and as sweet as a nut. Accept it or not, we’re all hooked on our baggage system…

…whether it’s a clutch bag or a holdall. But forget what’s in yours, and come and rummage around in Xanthe’s bottomless bag. Between the kitchen sink and the old tube tickets lies a pick and mix of marvels, fibs and fables.

Featuring audience prompted stories accompanied by great accordion playing, performer Xanthe Gresham-Knight is hot footing it down from international storytelling festival, Festival at the Edge, to Ventnor, to present storytelling in its liveliest and most interactive form. So come and see what you can pull from this lucky dip!

As presented at the Soho Theatre and Literature Festivals throughout the UK, Europe and New Zealand.

“An audible feast!” Gulf News, Waiheke Island New Zealand

“The Island story-loving audience – and anyone story-curious – is going to LOVE Xanthe’s repertoire of stories and her playful, connected style of telling and her verbal ingenuity!” Nell Phoenix, Somewhen Storytelling Festival, 2023, headliner.

We send Daniel our best wishes and hope he makes a speedy recovery. And we’ll hopefully get him onto the island somewhen soon:-)

activities Island Storytellers

Island Storytellers at Ventnor Fringe, 2023: “Green”

A new gang show from the Island Storytellers will be presented at Ventnor Library on Wednesday, July 26th, 2023, 7.30pm-9.30pm. Tickets: £6, Under 25 £3, Culture / Unlimited Pass 2for1 (pass holders only) available here.

GREEN is life itself. From the smallest flower to the oldest oak; flashing eyes of love to the dark plots of jealous envy; ‘The force through the green fuse drives the flower…’. And don’t forget lizards, parrots and dragons with their GREEN Scales and Tails. Come to hear GREEN stories of every description as told by the Island Storytellers.

The simple art of storytelling has been with us forever, enjoyed by young and old alike, in all parts of the world. Come join us to hear a mix of tales linked together by the colour green, and brought to you by The Island Storytellers, a group of people who meet monthly, keen to keep alive the age old art of oral storytelling and share the pleasure of listening and telling.
This evening of tales will be great for adults and older children. A cosy atmosphere with (green!) refreshments in the break.

Storytelling as living oral culture. Tales for all ages, spoken not read. Because stories aren’t (just) for children.


‘Tis Tales Show at Ventnor Fringe, 2023

Don’t miss out, there’s still time to book your tickets for our new show, Here Be Giants, at the Ventnor Arts Club on Friday, July 28th, 3-4pm. Tickets available here.

activities postevent

Taking Somewhen Stories to Calbourne Water Mill

Over the weekend, ‘Tis Tales teller Monty took a selection of stories to the Water Mill at Calbourne.

The weather didn’t really suit telling outside using the rather fantastic story-telling chair, but maybe next time?

And when it came to trying to pull the sword from the stone…?!

We’ll hopefully be taking some tales to other island events over the summer as part of the Somewhen Storytelling initiative, so keep an eye out for details…


“Unforeseen Consequences” at Ventnor Fringe

We’re involved with a whole host of stories at Ventnor Fringe this week, in part under the banner of the Somewhen Storytelling initiative.

First up, ‘Tis Tales Monty is bringing his “Unfortunate Consequences (Verging on Nonsense)” set to Boniface Studios on Sunday 23rd July, 2023, 5-6pm. Tickets: £8, Under 25 £5, Culture / Unlimited Pass 2for1 available here.

Whatever the streaming services try to tell you, the best stories, and the best storytelling, are NOT best told through a screen…

The best stories are the stories that just kept on, and keep on, being told, somewherever, and somewhenever, for generations. And the best way to experience them is the original way – from a storyteller. Traditional stories, traditionally told, but still as colourful and vibrant, and entertaining as ever they were. Every so often, some of them disappear from view, but then they make a return, and re-enter the storytelling tradition they never really left…

So make yourself comfortable, and journey with Island-based traditional performance storyteller Tony Hirst, aka Monty, to the land of once upon a time, where tales are told that aren’t (just) for children. Come and hear tell of how two farmers tried to get the better of their neighbour, whilst a young prince accepted a challenge to win a beautiful princess. A dragon-serpent watches on as a childless old couple suddenly find they have a child to bring up, a blacksmith does a deal with a devil, and a young man certainly knows how to use his head.

What could possibly go wrong…?

Monty will also be doing a free fringe set at the Fringe Square, St Catherine’s Church, 1pm-1.30pm on Tuesday, July 25th, 2023, telling “Folk Tales from Britain and Ireland”.


A Weekend at Beyond the Border, Part I

Although this year saw the Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival celebrating thirty years since the first event, this is the first time we’ve actually made it. (That’s not quite as bad as it sounds: the festival only takes place every two years…)

Set in its new home in the grounds of Dinefwr Castle in Llandeilo, Wales, the festival ran Friday evening to Sunday evening, with two main performance tents (each with a capacity of about 200?), three smaller performance and workshop tents (one mainly for the kids’ performances) and a covered social eating area.

View into the site — eating area and food stalls; major venue B is the tent seen bottom right

Friday night saw an opening ceremony and headline set from Tuup, with the “Mighty Goddess” set Sally Pomme Clayton performed here on the island at Rhythmtree Festival last year:-), and Sarah Rundle’s “Rosamunde” in the other main tent.

View from the “main stage” tent (round) down to main tent B (rectangular) and into the site

This was the first time I’ve seen Sarah Rundle, and her retelling of the completely new to me tale of Rosamunde, a Gepid princess from the “Migration Period” at the end of the Roman Empire was a great example of taking an account and turning it into a story. (I wish I’d jotted down proper notes on tricks/techniques afterwards, because I still need to find a story way through the accounts I’m trying to turn into a Protest Tales set… I also thought the intro and the first 10 minutes would work well in a Ventnor Fringe setting, but I think the whole set might be a challenge to a “non-expert” audience. That said, Sarah’s other sets — Women Who Bore Through Walls and Naughty Japanese Badgers, of which, more in the next post — would be a really good fit, I think, particularly Walls)

Tuup’s show was the most highly produced, and arguably the highest energy, show of the weekend (music, lit backdrop). I get why people like that sort of thing, but its not proximal to/for me and the things I’m currently interested in and can sink time into… (That said, it might be quite fun to try that sort of show in a small live music venue like Strings… but I’m not sure how we’d market or advertise it, or to whom; I also suspect a lot of people would miss it because they wouldn’t know they’d like it…)

Friday also saw a set of Gypsy travelling tales from Joe Baele, and the Welsh version of “Telyn Tales” by Mair Tomos Ifans & Sioned Webb, a set that combined stories and harp.

I’ve been wondering whether there’s an opportunity to do something with the island’s Harp on Wight harp festival, and this might be a candidate?

I didn’t see all Joe Baele’s set, but one tale I recall (I think from that set), featured a tale I’d love to tell but can’t remember the end of, and don’t recall having seen anywhere before… (A gypsy fiddler, who has found an old violin on a market stall that adds something to his playing is stopped by death, who asks for a favour: will he entertain ten thousand souls he has backed up? Gypsy agrees, plays, and sees one woman who stares fixedly at him; it turns out that Death was cheated by the luthier, who put his soul into the fiddle, so Death took his daughter instead, before her time. To release her from waiting, the violin must be broken. If he breaks the violin, can he have the girl? She would have died hundreds of years ago. A deal is struck… but I can’t remember the end? Maybe they found a young woman who was dying, the fiddler broke the fiddle, the soul was released, the dying woman was infused with the girl’s soul and they lived happily ever after?).

At some point I’m pretty sure I also heard a variant of How a Gypsy Cheated the Devil somewhere, somwhen, from someone?

Outside the main stage tent looking down the hill to glamping; ordinary camping disappearing off to the right; shard toilet and shower blocks.

Saturday started for me listening to talks from the “Mycelium Storytelling Hub”, an initiative promoted by Beyond the Border to help develop grass roots storytelling activity in Wales. The project seems to be based on giving cash to storytellers so they can pay their bills, and then giving them free rein. Lots of storytelling activity goes unpaid, and lots appears in places you don’t really see or hear about it, not least schools and libraries to kids’ audiences, but this project is about taking it everywhere. As we keep trying to stress, storytelling is not (just) for kids.

Next up for me, a Daniel Morden set, targeted at 7+. As ever, Daniel’s sets are replete with stories I always want to go away and tell. This set started (I think) with a variant of something I can’t remember (not the devil and the violin, surely?), and included Orpheus and Eurydice (which I already tell as a complement to the loss of the Eurydice (storynotes), a set I really need to tighten up; I also want to weave it into a set with Demeter and Persephone), Kaddo’s Wall (“in the town of Tendela…”, about a rich merchant who makes a wall from bricks of flour, and then falls on hard times…), and a song-and-dance routine about the “freedom bird”(my notes: nah, na na, na nah…. in which a hunter kills a bird whose song irritates him (chant), puts it in a sack (chant), plucks feathers (chant), chopping board (chant), into boiling pot (chant), buries in ground (chant), dug up and sunk in river (chant), children find it, open it, and a hundred birds fly out…)


More notes tomorrow…


Promoting Somewhen Storytelling at Ventnor Fringe

Just a fortnight or so to go before Ventnor Fringe — have you started getting your tickets yet? There are 2for1 offers on many shows, if you’re quick, and it’s a real confidence boost be performers knowing in advance that there will be audience there!

A huge treat for us is having Daniel Morden at the Ventnor Fringe. One of the most compelling tellers of dark tales out there, Daniel’s set will feature his own reworked versions of several late 19th century tales from the Woods’, a legendary Welsh gypsy family. A show not to be missed. Tickets available here.

There’s also a whole host of local tellers at the fringe: we’ll be there as `Tis Tales, as well as with the Island Storytellers, and Monty and Sue are also doing solo slots. Tickets now available from the Ventnor Fringe website: just search for somewhen or storytelling.

If you’ve seen us telling around the island, we’d love to see you at the fringe. If the shows are a success, we’re more likely to attract more storytellers to the island in future.

We also appreciate that the cost of tickets can quickly add up, but all our shows offer 2-for-1 discounts if you’re a friend of the fringe or Ventnor Exchange (and you but the tickets in time!). There are also discounts for under-25s. There are also quite a few costs involved in putting on a show (programme entry fee, box office take, minimum venue take/percentage), so we’re not necessarily laughing all the way to the bank! (We also don’t want to undersell ourselves,. but that’s really for you to judge…)