The Storytelling Centre is delighted to host the opening Audacious Women Festival event, as the festival curates a programme for and by women with something to give. Breaking down personal, political and institutional barriers, and giving a massive shout out to women everywhere is at the core of the Festival, and the Centre continues to ensure women’s voices and inspirations continue beyond, including an event on International Women’s Day.
The Preaching Divas: Ali Affleck & The Copper Cats
Thu 22 Feb, 7.30pm
A heartfelt tribute and passionate look at the pioneering female vocalists and lyricists that launched ‘the blues’, which became Jazz. The songs these uncrowned queens performed were outspoken, racy and very on the edge.
Delivered by Ali Affleck, who’s pitch perfect, passionate, expressive, and totally unpretentious style promises impressive vocals with a heartfelt vintage twist, as she states:
‘I’ve always felt a calling to New Orleans and its early music. I spent a huge amount of time there while living in the US and I wanted to find every old, forgotten song by the equally forgotten ladies who pioneered this music!
‘This is a work in progress and a lifetime passion, but with this first performance I am delighted to present work by a few of the outspoken ladies of early blues and jazz... along with a couple of songs that are important in the evolution of the artform.
‘There’s more to the birth of the blues and jazz than Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters (of course, both are fabulous performers) and I hope you’ll join me in finding out a few more names to add to your own personal musical journey.’
Maryvonne The Great
Wed 28 Feb, 7.30pm
Written & performed by Marthe Vassallo, in collaboration with Hervé Lelardoux
You’ve never heard of Maryvonne Le Flem, who lived in 19th century Brittany. And yet before the show is over
you will root for her and rejoice in her indomitable spirit thanks to Marthe Vassallo's warm singing and passionate storytelling.
‘Marivon Vraz’ (Tall Maryvonne, her Breton nickname) never knew how to read and lived a thankless life of poverty, yet what is striking about her is her love of expression – singing, talking, telling and hearing stories – and her strength of body and mind.
Maryvonne’s encounter with writer Anatole Le Braz, who noted down page after page of her songs and stories, and musician Maurice Duhamel, who published over 60 of her tunes in his vast collection of traditional Breton music, meant her spirit was amidst the records that performer Marthe was pouring over.
Marthe Vassallo is hailed as one of the greatest and most versatile voices in today's Breton music, who debuts Maryvonne’s tale in an English premiere at the Centre,
and cannot wait to share the story of a fascinating woman assigned to the archives, as she explains:
‘I instantly knew I had to do something about her as she leapt out of the pages, and I instinctively wanted to share that emotion. I do my best to remain as accurate, but I am a singer and storyteller, just like her.
‘By sharing her life and interpreting her songs with my bare voice – no microphone, no instruments – I want to recreate her with the powers she had: the human voice and imagination.’
As Marthe Vassallo shares her story, Maryvonne regains more than some existence: what shines through is her personality and sense of agency, the very things that people like her were so often denied.
Café Voices: Sheroes
Thu 8 Mar, 7pm
For International Women’s Day, there could only be one theme for the Centre’s monthly storytelling night, as we welcome host storyteller Ruth Kirkpatrick who brings tales of her heroines, plus an open floor opportunity to share stories, songs and rhymes showcasing your sheroes.
Ruth merges her background in social work and education support with her engaging performances full of warmth, sensitivity and humour, highlighting her belief in the power of storytelling bringing the heart back into relationships and communities.
Ruth’s sheroes include Billie Jean King, Mo Mowlam, Mary Seacole and her Great Granny, and she hopes to inspire as well as be inspired by others, as she says:
‘We're drenched in a demanding current culture of instant gratification, with seemingly enormous pressure on young women, with selfies and constant photographic evidence of what you're doing.
‘I want to get beyond what women have done and explore what they are like as characters, encouraging women to feel empowered using the stories of influencers who’ve inspired me.’
Guid Crack: Living Herstory
Fri 30 Mar, 7.30pm (Fig Tree Bistro, St Mary’s Street)
Continuing her mission to draw attention to the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act,
which gave some women the right to vote for the first time, historical storyteller Nicola Wright shares stories of suffragettes and other historical figures as a comparison of where women were then, and what – if anything – has changed for women in the current socio-political climate.
Hear of audacious women utilising their power, including the Queen who put her more famous brother in his place, one of the few women memorialised in stone (Edinburgh currently has more statues of animals than women) and a bicycle riding, toffee hammer wielding militant suffragette who ensured Scotland’s contribution to the movement.
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