14 August 2013. Sagobygden

Storytelling has always existed and is forever new, it is ancient, and a trend in the Western world since the 1980s, it is original and new in our time. We do not know how old the stories are. An Egyptian story, documented 2000 years before our calendar, was told in Sweden during the 1900s.

 In West Africa, people gather at the fire in the evening and talk about what happened during the day and during the week. Then the elderly told what it was like when the young were children and what happened before they were born. As the night progresses the stories go further and further back, stories of how the river came to be and how the animals were created. And when the sun raises the story of the creation is told. So the present has been tied to the past, the individual to the common.

In Sweden, until the 1800s, stories were told when people were gathered during long dark winter evenings in front of the fireplace. They were told while the spin wheels spun and the men carved rake arms. Men and women told each other stories and the children listened, sometimes, like today, to what was actually intended for adult ears.

This way, oral storytelling has been kept alive in all times and all cultures until present time.

During the 1900s, it almost disappeared from our part of the world. The oral storytelling, the living encounter between storyteller and listener, was first replaced with the written word, then with a technical narrative - film, television, radio and later the internet and computers.

During the 1980s, a new movement arose in Europe and North America. It brought an awareness that man's most original form of culture was dying out. Stories began to be told in many different parts of the Western world. Old stories were found and new were created. Festivals, story cafes and storytelling scenes were organized. Storytelling came to Sweden mainly by Ljungby Storytelling Festival which started in 1990.

The choice of Ljungby in southern Småland was no accident. Some of our foremost storytellers lived here and much of the Swedish oral tradition was documented here in the 1800s.

Today storytelling in Sweden thrives like never before. Stories are told in schools and hospitals, in business corporations and prisons, stories are told in study circles and at storytelling cafés. Sweden has, since several years, three international festivals: Ljungby Storytelling Festival, Fabula Storytelling Festival in Stockholm and Skellefteå Storytelling Festival. Storytelling networks which organize storytelling in the country are now available from Malmö in the south to Umeå in the north.

Storytelling seeks new methods all the time. People talk about corporate storytelling, digital storytelling, healing storytelling, storytelling as a teaching tool and stage storytelling. People compete in storytelling and books are written about storytelling. But above all, we are more and more people discovering how rewarding, fun, breathtaking, bonding, adventurous, sad, hilarious and exciting it is to tell stories and to listen.

Ljungby Storytelling Festival

Since its start in 1990, we have arranged the Ljungby Storytelling Festival. Each year, just before Midsummer, about 50 storytellers and researchers from all over the world gather, for a few days, to share their best tales. The Festival offers a selection of 70 performances, courses, seminars, walking tours and excursions. You can listen to tales narrated by local storytellers and by the brightest stars from the international world of storytelling. They perform funny and tragic stories, breathtaking and thrilling ones. You can listen to newly written tales as well as old established legends. There's a lot to choose from, for young and old alike. The event is the oldest annually recurring Storytelling Festival in the Nordic countries.

14 August 2013, 10.45

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