‘Tales on the Island’ International Storytelling Festival in Sharjah

  • Monday 18, February 2019 04:10 PM
Sharjah24: It is that time of the year again when the idyllic Al Noor Island in Sharjah is gears up to host 15 of the world’s best storytellers for a four-weekend cultural marathon – the third annual edition of the International Storytelling Festival in the UAE, Tales on the Island.
With the theme, ‘Stories: A Treasure of Words’, this celebration of live oral traditions and cultural diversity will showcase regional and international storytellers, live performers and musicians from 10 different nationalities in a monthlong feast from 21 February to 16 March. 
The 4-week festival will have its doors open to the public on Friday and Saturday, with the exception of the opening weekend, which will also include the Thursday evening (21 Feb). On weekdays the event will be reserved for school field trips and group bookings.
This edition’s word masters hail from UAE, India, Italy, Egypt, France, Palestine, Lebanon, United Kingdom, Wales, Guyana and as far away as USA and Canada, sharing their repertoire of endless stories, and turning visitors’ weekends under the stars and surrounded by trees, into everlasting memories to narrate for years to come.
Mahmoud Rashid Al Suwaidi, General Manager of Al Noor Island said: “Tales on the Island – The International Storytelling Festival in Sharjah is back for its third edition on Al Noor Island with the greatest line up ever. The month-long festival that is open to people of all groups is bringing together some of the best storytellers of the world, to share their mesmerising  stories with the audience. The festival will be a joyful celebration of the oral tradition and aims to highlight its role in being one of the most important intangible assets of humankind’s collective cultural heritage. Through this festival, we want to reinforce the role of Al Noor Island in being a hub of knowledge, fun and culture for the entire family.” 
“As Sharjah is on its way to revealing itself as the UNESCO World Book Capital 2019 this April, this international storytelling festival will be an excellent prelude to the grand 365-day cultural celebration the emirate has planned to showcase to the UAE and the world,” he added. 
The programme will once more bear the signature of Paola Balbi and Davide Bardi, leading performers and personalities of the Storytelling Revival in Europe, and artistic directors of Raccontamiunastoria Storytelling Company since 2009. 
The festival’s artistic directors are hugely excited to put together another edition of Tales on the Island. They said: “We are delighted to present the line-up of the festival’s third edition. It has quickly established itself as the main event in the UAE when it comes to storytelling performances, growing much in size and prestige in the past three years. This year, we are proud to present acclaimed and undiscussed storytelling superstars from four continents, including for the first time storytellers from the American continent, Katie Knutson from the USA and Mariella Bertelli from Canada. 
They added: “Thanks to its fame, the festival has acquired a number of prestigious partners, such as the British Council, Alliance Francaise, Canadian Education Council and Mumzworld, that allow us to bring in great performers from all over the world. This edition’s programme will offer a variety of programmes for all ages, starting from the family and children sessions in the afternoon and move to the more sophisticated shows for grown-ups in the evening.”
Four weekends of unrivalled entertainment and learning 
The first weekend (21–23 February) will feature artists of the week Saif Shereen (Dubai/India); Pisciali Martina (Italy); Mattia di Pierro; Davide Bardi; Lamya Tawfik (Egypt/Dubai); festival’s artistic director, Paola Balbi; Xanthe Gresham (UK); Halima Hamdan (Morocco); and Mariella Bertelli (Canada), who will come together to deliver a memorable opening to the festival, which has been titled ‘The Treasure of Stories’. This will be followed by ‘Crick Crack! Make Me Laugh!’ – a programme of light stories with profound meanings specially put together for adults, which will be presented in English and Arabic languages.  
On 22 February, ‘Around the World in 80 Stories’, and on Saturday, 23 February, ‘Stories of Tricks, Tricksters and Riddles!’; ‘Wisdom, thy Name is a Woman!’; and Don’t Make Me Laugh, Juha!’ will enable listeners to cherish humanity’s common currency – stories through master storytellers’ informal improvised performances. 
In following weekends, these artists will be joined by Fida Ataya from Palestine, Katie Knutson from the US, Germana De Ruvo, Michael Harvey from Wales and Sara Kasir, who will all come together to celebrate the rhythms and methods of storytelling, and reignite the fire of the oral tradition in Sharjah and the UAE, with awe-inspiring performances in both English and Arabic. 
There will be plenty more to engage with at the festival. 
Visitors to Al Noor Island will be entertained with live music and creative entertainment. They will be introduced to the art of storytelling, including one that will teach the ancient art of Hakawati, through a series of specialised workshops delivered by professional artists and performers.
For more information and the full schedule of the festival, please call 06 506 7000 or email info@alnoorisland.ae, or visit their social media accounts @alnoorisland.