Storytelling draws in the crowds at Stade

Anusha Subramanyam: Children's Day at The Stade. Picture by Sue Read
Anusha Subramanyam: Children's Day at The Stade. Picture by Sue Read

Nearly 2,000 people enjoyed live storytelling across town at the fourth annual Hastings Storytelling Festival.

A varied programme, produced by events company 18 Hours, included a talk by author, Iain Sinclair, live performance of adult stories by Xanthe Gresham, saucy and provocative adult-only stories and performances from Brigitte Aphrodite, Hastings Guerilla Circus and Ingrid Pitt Orchestra and the Ooh La Las in The Velvet Curtain and free storytelling for children from Ed Boxall and Pickled Image.

On Sunday, November 16 Hastings’ only festival especially for children, Fishy Tales Children’s Festival, drew hundreds of families to The Stade for a medley of free stories. These included stories told through dance, clowning and puppetry. There was also a drumming workshop and storytelling in a yurt. Young audiences were entranced by Circo Rum Baba’s real-life size, smoke-breathing dragon, roving The Stade with the Goblin Queen.

Hundreds of children carried banners they had made in participating schools and Children’s Centres in a parade through George Street celebrating Black History authors and heroes accompanied by Dende Drummers and Zaz the clown. Children’s Day was rounded off with a mesmerising performance from the UK Africa Acrobats, who juggled hats, bowls, plates and more.

Dick Edwards, chairman of the Hastings Storytelling Festival, said: “This year Hastings has hosted possibly the biggest (and we think the best) Storytelling Festival in the country. The Children’s Festival is a truly unique opportunity for younger audiences to experience live storytelling. The overwhelmingly positive reactions prove that, despite living in the digital age, people just love hearing stories.”

Festival patron, illustrator Sir Quentin Blake, has produced a special-edition calendar exclusively for this year’s festival. Copies are available for £10 from the Hastings Tourist Information Centre, the Jerwood Gallery, Just Property, Burstow & Hewett, Nelson House Antiques and The Horse and Groom pub.