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March 2019

Toronto Storytelling Festival March 2-24, with Dawne McFarlane


RSCT Storytelling Teacher Now on a Bigger Stage

Dawne McFarlane, who has led storytelling courses and workshops at the RSCT for many years has a new role in the wide world of storytelling. Starting this year, Dawne is Artistic Director of the Toronto Storytelling Festival, which begins today, Saturday March 2nd and continues through March 24th.

Dawne suggests that families will be particularly interested in the TD Story Jam - a full day of family activities and stories at the Toronto Reference Library Sunday March 24, 11am-4pm; here's the link for that event.

Students of Indigenous Waldorf culture will be interested to note that at the opening ceremony Tuesday March 19 at the Native Canadian Centre Toronto (6.30-830pm), RSCT graduate Aronhiaten:ni (Sean) Thompson will present the Haudenosaunee thanksgiving address.

Dawne herself will be hosting and storytelling at the Saturday March 23 Gala "Presenting the Past for our Future" 7:30pm-10:30pm

40 Years of the Toronto Storytelling Festival

Here’s a overview of the whole festival from Dawne’s director’s letter:

“Storytelling Toronto presents the 40th annual Toronto Storytelling Festival! “Hatched” in 1978 at a cafe in Kensington Market, the Toronto Storytelling Festival first took flight on April 1,1979, and soared into becoming one of the world’s top urban storytelling festivals. We celebrate our 40th year with enormous gratitude and continuing flights of fancy. As always, 1001 heartfelt thanks to our volunteers, tellers, sponsors, partners, and listeners.

Behind us are the ancestors who gave voice to the stories of the earth, water, fire, and air. The festival continues to honour the storytellers of the First Nations who are keeping their oral traditions alive. Our festival theme this year is “Stories told eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart” (Scottish Traveller proverb). Tradition bearers bring wisdom from the ancestors to illuminate our future, weaving new understandings from the web of old stories. Our beautiful festival image from Luciana Baptista-Cohen’s original watercolour painting portrays the brilliance of these storythreads, the open hands that give and receive them, and the warmth of the global storytelling community we celebrate. 

“There was a belief that the world was one great beating heart; the rivers and waterways it’s veins and arteries; the oceans the vital organs...”  So begins a story told by Seannachaidh of Glendale Seoras Macpherson. Traditional oral stories are the most authentic source of the holistic worldview that is essential for our future. We know that we are at a tipping point and sustainability is not enough. What is needed now is radical hospitality, vigilant stewardship, love in action. Stories are powerful tools for change and always have been; they are vital ways of connecting us “heart to heart” with each other and the natural world. They are bright threads of creativity and love to weave into re-imagined ways of being with each other and our Earth. 

The “old ways” discovered anew continually bring us back into the present with hope for the future. Welcome. Fàilte. Aanii. Tawow- “there is enough room.” You are part of the re-imagining.

With regard to the photo above, Dawne says; “I get to meet with such interesting characters as Artistic Director of the Toronto Storytelling Festival 2019. These fabulous creations will adorn our venues with banners and giant puppets, transforming auditoriums, libraries, and marketplaces into places of wonder and giving rainbow birds flight —  they will likely bring the sun to shine on us too! Many thanks to Red Pepper Spectacle Arts. And especially at the TD Story Jam family day March 24, where they will also help children of all ages make shadow puppets and shadow puppet boxes. 

Dawne at the RSCT Summer Festival 2018

At last summer's RSCT Summer Festival, Dawne was on hand to introduce guest storyteller and author from Norway, Georgiana Keable. Here they are together, in the photo below from when Dawne was thanking Georgiana for sharing her story with the audience in the TWS forest playground.

Below: Georgiana Keable signs her book for young fans after the story, last summer at the RSCT Summer Festival.

2019 Summer Festival (July 8-26) registration is now open. Click here for full information on courses.

The image below, which is being used as a logo for the 2019 Toronto Storytelling Festival, is from an original watercolour painting by artist Luciana Baptista-Cohen and beautifully portrays the warmth of the giving and receiving of the brilliant threads of story. Luciana is a parent at the Toronto Waldorf School.

Storytelling, Family