Edinburgh Fringe 2023
Storytellers from a range of backgrounds, ages and cultures share stories of LGBTQ+ lives past, present and future. With a different line-up at every show featuring household names alongside upcoming storytellers and the occasional audience micro-story. Sometimes hilarious, often moving, occasionally shocking and always queer. Hosted year-round by Turan Ali (Producer of BBC comedy/drama), this Fringe edition of the Scottish Storytelling Centre’s bimonthly event will showcase some of the best queer talent from across the festival.
Storytelling is a way of sharing our hopes, dreams and realities. For hundreds of years, at least, stories have been shared among families in all cultures to inform about what, how and why things are happening around them. The spoken word is powerful and a very long time before the Internet, phones, newspapers and books were around, telling stories was the main entertainment and way people learned and received information.
Stories are often informative, fun and comforting, and help people from different cultures and groups in society understand each other. These shared experiences are vital and it is through the powerful tool of theatre that storytelling performances help us to step inside someone else’s shoes for a short while. We are able to spend a short time living vicariously through the stories and lives of others thus exposing us to different points of view.
Queer Folks’ Tales is a weekly storytelling show running during this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe and runs at regular intervals during the rest of the year, always held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh and hosted by Turan Ali, storyteller, producer of BBC drama/comedy, and stand up.
Several different storytellers perform at each almost two hour show and the evening I went I saw six storytellers, including Ali, who also introduced each storyteller and told brief micro stories in between.
The format of the show is very effective because there is a lot of variety in the stories we hear but each storyteller is very different in their topic and style. The stories were moving, sad, poetic, feisty, funny and one or two quite spicy, and all were very entertaining and all are tales from queer folks.
Ali is extraordinarily warm and upbeat as he introduces each storyteller and keeps the flow of the evening by telling micro stories or drawing the audience in with smart interactivity. The first storyteller of the evening is Kelli Dunham, an ex nun from New York who is a stand up and storyteller. Kelli tells a story about a lost love. With a low key soft spoken delivery Kelli sets up the information we need in the first part of the story, about a burlesque performer, and then there is a shift into an intense emotional side and the poignant story unfolds so well.
The next storyteller is singer-songwriter Finn Anderson who performs one of his story songs while playing at the keyboard. He sings about the need for “Queer safe spaces” and that for him it is to surround himself by nature. He shares that he grew up in a small fishing village and other personal experiences in his beautifully melodic song.
Ali tells a riveting and risqué story about his travels to a far off land where same sex relationships are not allowed today – and anyone found out can be fined, imprisoned and worse. However, the resourceful Ali found his way to the best saunas in town. Not speaking the local language he mimed parts of his journey as he described the characters he met – and according to his facial expressions and interesting physicality he had a great time!
After intermission three more storytellers were ready onstage. Lacy Rain, a colourful eccentric drag burlesque performer tells a fascinating story about her friends who have learned to speak english by watching certain TV shows. It is a fascinating concept that does happen, according to Rain. Well, things get lost in translation, literally, during an intimate encounter, which is told with a broad sense of humour and matter of factness, great timing and very expressive physicality. Raunchy and very funny!
Singer-songwriter Mike McKenzie tells a short personal anecdote and then plays the guitar as he sings a travel story about his husband, and how challenging US and UK long distance relationships are, in a moving, sweet, romantic song. The final storyteller is gay stand up Sam Lake who wants to be a daddy – but not a dad – and is exploring manliness. Lake is concerned with pizza, Tupperware and relationship stuff and tells it all in a wry but hilarious way where you can not help but laugh as some things are so relatable!
This is a wonderful way to spend an evening in Edinburgh, among such talented and generous storytellers sharing their stories in such a sincere, moving as well as entertaining way. Do not miss the next show of Queer Folk’s’ Tales!