Everything you need to know about To Absent Friends
Scottish festival of storytelling and remembrance returns for a second year
What is To Absent Friends?
To Absent Friends is a festival of storytelling and remembrance designed to support active remembrance of dead people. In a culture where death is seen as too morbid or too difficult to talk about the festival is a chance to give ourselves license to talk about our memories of those who have died and to listen to others, without discomfort or embarrassment.
Is it similar to any other festivals?
Mexican Day of the Dead. Look past the mariachi music and sugar skulls at this Mexican holiday dedicated to remembering and celebrating friends and family who have died.
When is To Absent Friends?
Sun 1–Sat 7 Nov
Where is it?
All across Scotland. There are events in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Glenrothes and plenty of ways to get involved whatever your location
Tell me some of these ways …
The website has a whole host of suggestions. With your family you could invite your cousins to the pub to reminisce about grandparents or host an afternoon tea with the family photo albums so youngsters can learn about relatives who died before they were born. You can start a To Absent Friends wall in a foyer at work for people to share recollections or host your own concert or storytelling event. Online you can tweet a message in memory #toabsentfriends or write on the website’s wall of remembrance.
What music events are taking place?
Edinburgh Brass Band perform a free candlelit concert in the majestic surroundings of St John’s Church while the RSNO perform a To Absent Friends concert in their new flagship centre in Glasgow. The professional musicians are joined by children from across Scotland who have helped compose music inspired by stories shared by local care home residents. The concert will be screened at care home across the country.
I prefer a story …
At the Scottish Storytelling Centre Margot Henderson remembers loved ones in story, song and silence. Over at The Blind Poet Alec Beattie and Max Scratchmann host a mixed bill of professional storytellers and open mic time slots at Gone But Not Forgotten. In Glasgow the Scottish Writers' Centre and Scottish PEN collaborate in a event to honour 'Courageous Writers' who are no longer with us in Courage in the Name of Freedom of Expression.
Any performance events?
Theatre collective Creative Electric are out and about in Edinburgh performing Dog Stone, a storytelling adventure originally created for young children that explores imagination as a coping mechanism. In The Box, touring Scotland Thu 22 Oct–Fri 6 Nov, performer Alice Mary Cooper tells the story of what was discovered in a Dundee postal worker's time capsule, created in 1921 and undiscovered until 2013.
How else can I get creative with the festival?
Enter the Essence of a Memory photography competition. Take a photo and write up to 50 words which together evoke a memory of someone important to you who has died. Check out last year's winning entries for some inspiration.
To Absent Friends runs Sun 1–Sat 7 Nov at various locations