Last week I went to Lithuania. There were two reasons that brought me there. Firstly, it was the annual conference of the Federation for European Storytelling, the second reason was that I should hold a course for an organization. The journey down had a strange turning point if I can call it that. The flight went from Oslo via Bergen (another city in Norway). So, I had to get off the plane in Bergen, run from domestic to international terminal and get on the same plane and into the same seat as I had before I had to leave the flight. The staff warmly welcomed me back with big smiles. But the journey was quick from Bergen, because Aslak (head of the storytelling festival in Oslo) came on in Bergen and so the talk started and suddenly we landed.

The conference offers good old acquaintances and new acquaintances. When we arrived, the conference opened at the hotel, where Vilnius as a city was presented, as well as how the conference would proceed. This was followed by a dinner, where one talked about the favorite topic: oral storytelling. That is good! There are many ideas, positions and thoughts that peril through one when meeting peers at a conference. I have realized the necessity of these meetings, both to meet someone who understands one, and to encounter important disagreements that cause one to reflect on the practice of one’s own subject.

On Thursday, the conference began in full. It was preceded by a common section, where the status quo over FEST was presented and then the World café. This part I am unsure about really belongs at a conference. The conference also enrollees those are not members of FEST, I was wondering how they experience it? The purpose of World café is to arrive at some priorities for FEST. It was well led but lasted far too long and really took the energy away from the courses and lectures I wanted to attend later. The advantage is that one also meets different opinions about the importance of one’s own field.

The first session I attended, after lunch, was «Strange birds» – about how two Dutch storytellers have worked on refugee stories, a documentary project that was through several phases, where the pandemic also gave them a turning point. The session was touchingly mediated and meant to inspire others.

I then participated in an open floor session where some storytellers could present their own projects for feedback. This is a good idea, but need someone to monitor and lead it, which there was not. Abbi Patrix told about a project in the start-up that deals with urbanism and the use of residents’ stories. A complex project that received a number of inputs.

Then Thursday was over for me.

Friday began with Stephe Harrop’s «Queens of Albion» – where she talked about the British political image and how it influenced the build-up of a performance. This was very interesting and gave me thoughts on how structures in a society affect structures in performances.

Then I attended «People, places and stories» with Guy and Shona from FEST. They came up with practical examples of how to work within cultural heritage and asked for input on how oral storytelling can be used in living cultural heritage projects.

Towards the end of Friday, I ran a workshop.

Then the conference was over, except for a small «no conference» section, on Saturday morning where those who had not travelled could take part in a final round to give FEST some ideas on how to continue the work.

The rest of Saturday I attended Pride, and I had to write an article that was sent off, in time for a deadline.

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