Cafe Voices: Sheroes’ was a charming event held in celebration of International Women’s Day. One by one, volunteers from the audience stood up to tell a story, sing a song or recite a poem about their ‘sheroes’: women who are inspiring, admired, or simply just loved. The informal style of the small event made it incredibly inclusive, where even those who didn’t perform were involved, making the event not about the contrast between performer and audience but about the ongoing tête-à-tête between every person in the room.
Set against the delightful backdrop of the Scottish Storytelling Centre, the event was incredibly intimate and, with a few outliers, it was clear that many of the performers knew each other. Although it felt slightly opposed to the nature of the ‘Café Voices’ theme to have the same few performers contributing, the rapport between them nonetheless garnered a strong sense of community in the room among newcomers and seasoned storytellers alike. It was impossible not to notice the overwhelming community spirit in the room: the audience were quipping and laughing with the performers.
The most powerful moments of unity, however, were during the sung performances. Without fail and without being prompted, the audience joined in with every song’s chorus, filling the room with a harmonious liveliness.
Not only was this event a tribute to womankind everywhere, it was a tribute to Scottish culture and history. Many of the contributors were Scottish themselves, and shared Scottish folk tales as well as Celtic folk songs, which gave a fantastic insight into the Scottish art tradition. Others stood up to sing the praises of strong Scottish women who persevered throughout their lives and prevailed in male-dominated fields. It was particularly fascinating to hear what one woman had to say about Chrystal Macmillan: an amazing woman and the University of Edinburgh’s first female graduate in the sciences, whose name I had previously only attributed to the building on George Square.
‘Café Voices: Sheroes’ was an enjoyable, relaxed and insightful evening. Though perhaps a little clumsily organised, this ultimately became part of its charm and aided the feeling of community in the room. Removing the line between performer and audience, it made everyone seem human, which was absolutely essential in order for the audience participation element to work.
The ‘Café Voices’ events at the Storytelling Centre are a recurring series and are certainly a wonderful opportunity to integrate passionate speakers into a community who want to get their voices heard.
‘Cafe Voices: Sheroes’ took place at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on 8 March.
Image: maky_orel via Pixabay.