Beyond the Border, Wales’ leading International Storytelling Festival have announced the second wave of artists and musicians who will be performing at the 2020 festival under the theme, Reimagining Our Futures at its new home, National Trust Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire from 3-5 July 2020.

For over 25 years, Beyond the Border has been Wales’ leading International Storytelling Festival bringing stories and people together, from Wales and the World, through an inspirational biennial festival in a beautiful setting.   

In the majestic, historical setting of Dinefwr, the 2020 programme theme looks to the future with a host of new and talented voices, including Gwobr Esyllt Harker award winner Siân Miriam, Phil Okwedy and Mikey Price from Wales alongside major figures from across the UK and European storytelling communities, and special international guests including four first-time visitors from Canada. 

Also for the first time, Welsh harpist Catrin Finch will be at the Festival as part of her collaborative storytelling performance with Senegalese kora maestro, Seckou Keita.  They will be performing music from their triumphant second album, SOAR which was inspired by the return of the osprey to Wales after centuries of absence and was nominated as the Album of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2019, where they also won Best Duo and Seckou was named Musician of the Year.

While many of the artists featured tell myths and legends from traditional sources, some, including Canadian guests, share stories from life. Ivan Coyote, raised in Whitehorse, Yukon and now one of North America’s pre-eminent storytellers celebrating 25 years of international touring, shares stories of what it means to be trans and non-binary today.  Marta Singh, born in Argentina, shares her experience of growing up in a culture of silence and what happens when that silence is broken.    Singer and flamenco dancer Tamar Ilana, from Toronto and musician Demetri Petsalakis draw on an incredible array of cultural inspirations, including Tamar’s childhood, gathering songs in remote villages of Spain and Portugal with her ethnomusicologist mother, and her own Jewish-Indigenous-Romanian-Scottish heritage.

Exciting international explorations include one of Europe’s most powerful storytellers, Norway’s Mimesis Heidi Dahlsveen, blending Norse mythology with autobiography and one of the acknowledged masters of European storytelling Abbi Patrix (Norway/France) who fuses storytelling with music, theatre, dance and mime with percussionist, composer and improviser Linda Edsjö, from Sweden, creating joyful and surprising performances.

As well as bringing some of the best storytellers from across the world to Wales, Beyond the Border is passionate about showcasing leading British talent.  Jan Blake has a world-wide reputation for the generosity and dynamism of her storytelling, specialising in stories from Africa, the Caribbean, and Arabia.  Many longtime festival favourites coming to Carmarthenshire, all bringing new and fresh stories, as well as much loved classics include legendary founder of the Crick Crack Club Ben Haggarty, Hay Festival Medal winner Daniel Morden, dynamic wordsmith extraordinaire Clare Murphy and Creative Wales Major Award winner Michael Harvey.   

Popular Welsh storytellers include North Wales favourite Dafydd Davies-Hughes, Cardiff’s Cath Little and Tamar Eluned Williams, who also spearheads the festival’s extensive community engagement programme, including work with four local schools which will be leading into the festival’s Opening Ceremony.  With bilingual and Welsh storytelling featuring across the three day programme, the festival is especially delighted to welcome Mair Tomos Ifans to Beyond the Border. Mair will be telling stories with harpist Sioned Webb and outdoor explorer Nuala Dunn, sharing river tales from across Wales as well as traditional folklore and dark Welsh fairytales to sell the pulse racing for festival goers camping with hooting owls and woodland creatures for company.

While there are plenty of late night shows with a PG/15+ certificate, this isn’t a festival just for adults. Beyond the Border has a reputation for being one of the most family friendly events in Wales, programming stories for families, puppet shows, craft workshops, bedtime tales as well as outdoor arts and events to keep energetic youngsters inspired all weekend.

Pontypridd’s award-winning youth circus company, Citrus Arts, will be performing a festival version of their award-winning show ‘Savage Hart’ as well as aerial, knot tying and circus skill workshops throughout the weekend.  Marion Leeper hosts Love Stories for the Earth for the very young, plus Cardiff based Triptych, storyteller Cath Little, kindergarten specialist Anna Podesta, and artist/author Farah Morley share dream-inspiring relaxing stories of the Earth, Moon and Stars for under 5s. Plus Milly Jackdaw, Bedtime Stories and Hand to Mouth Theatre’s famous puppet shows, and their new walkabout Box of Delights, there’s so much for all the family to enjoy.

Musicians confirmed to play at the festival include Wales’ Folk Awards Best solo artist Gwilym Bowen Rhys and three-times nominated BBC Radio 2 ‘Folk Musician of the Year,’ Will Pound, plus duo Gwilym Morus-Baird and Owen Shiers with Welsh and English versions of their guide to the history of land rights and protest in Wales Gadael Tir/Leave Land. More will be confirmed in the coming months.

Artistic Director, Naomi Wilds said, “We are really excited about this beautiful new location and the range of artists confirmed so far for our Reimagining Our Futures programme.  With many different flavours of stories and music, outdoor arts, nature and well being to enjoy, it’s an opportunity to spend three days inviting our imaginations as well as our bodies to breathe! The beauty and history of Dinefwr is really inspiring and we’re all looking forward to hearing how audiences enjoy this new space as well as the wonderful textures of history, story, music and adventure blending together over the festival.”

Further details about the Beyond the Border International Storytelling Programme can be found at beyondtheborder.com. Second tier tickets are now on sale and finish on 31 March before full price tickets go on sale from 1 April. National Trust Members can access discounted tickets. Tickets are only available through Beyond the Border at now at the National Trust property.

Beyond the Border International Storytelling Festival is supported by Arts Council of Wales, The Major Events Unit, Creative Europe and the Federation of European Storytelling.