This year was not only my first time in Greece - it was also my first time at a Greek storytelling festival! I have been hearing about the magical island of Kea for years, and I was excited that I finally got to participate in their festival. It was a treat.
Antonietta Pizzorno (above) told the tale of "A prince made by woman's hands" and while she mostly told in Italian, she conveyed the story really well, and left us in tears of laughter. Nuala Hayes told an Irish folktale in which the son of the King of Greece fell in love with the daughter of the King of Ireland - it was a great story, and very appropriate for the occasion. Susana Tornero told Stone Soup entirely in Sabir, the pidgin language of the medieval Mediterranean. We could all follow it, although it sounded like she was speaking Italian, Spanish and French at the same time (which, technically, she was). Regina Sommer told my favorite legend of Charlemagne, about the founding of Aachen. Senem Donatan, one of the Turkish ladies, told the myth of Inanna in the Underworld, with powerful singing. Seung Ah Kim, the Korean visitor, wore a traditional dress, and told the tale of the Snake Bridegroom with graceful gestures, eloquent words, and a haunting song.
As for me, I told a folktale collected from one of my favorite storytellers, Anna Pályuk, more than a hundred years ago. It is about three princesses who are half-siblings - one of them had a mother who was a fairy, one was a witch, and the third was a mortal. Their father, the king, tries to make them marry the Devil out of a mistake, and the three princesses work together to change his mind and fix the situation. It is a fun story to tell, the audience loved it, and it fit air-tight into the 10 minutes.
Janneke Tanja (right), who told a haunting legend about a fisherman who ferries the souls of the dead across the sea. I had goosebumps all over. It was excellently crafted from a small bit of a local legend in the Netherlands.
The third and final stop on the walk was an open air theater in a grove, under the stars and below the old stone walls of the town. The performance was a treat: Abbi Patrix (France) presented a full show of smart animal tales, spiced with African proverbs and percussion music by Linda Edsjö.
The festival continues on over the weekend, and I am a little sad that I didn't stay longer (although the performances seem to be in Greek from this point on). Kea is a lovely place, very calm and beautiful, and the festival was an amazing blend of mythical landscape and good storytelling. I am glad I made the trip, and I hope I will get to return in the future!