Chennai Storytelling Festival 2013 -- Teaching-and-Learning about Storytelling.
Presented by Chennai Storytelling Association, Indian Storytelling Network, World Storytelling Institute, and Goethe Institute of Chennai.
The core of the Festival were six three-hour Workshops over three days: 1) "Keynote session: Storytelling in the World Today"; 2) "Storytelling and Business"; 3) "Storytelling and Child Development" (on Emotional, Social, Linguistic, and Physical levels); 4) "Storytelling and Tourism"; 5) "Storytelling and Therapy/Healing/Counselling"; 6) "Storytelling and Education" (teaching Ecology and Languages). There were Storytelling Performances in the evenings.
Our Special Guest Speaker and Storyteller was Ms Kamini Ramachandran of Singapore: Artistic Director, Singapore International Storytelling Festival; Founding Member and Vice President, Storytelling Association (Singapore), and Co-Founder/Director, Moonshadow Stories.
Admission to most of the 2013 Chennai Storytelling Festival was free.
Post-Festival Field-Trip to Thanjavur,
"Storytelling Visit to the Countryside"
4 to 7 February 2013
The Field-trip represented a relatively new stage in the evolution of the study of Folklore. In the past, stories were just written down for the public to read. Now, the public is being invited to visit the Storytellers, listen to their stories, and be trained by the Storytellers in the local storytelling style.
A mission of this Field-trip was for the visitors to receive training in a particular type of storytelling -- the telling of Raja-Rani Kathai (Folk Tales), in which the Storyteller periodically breaks into song. That is, at certain points during the telling, the Storyteller (as Characters) may sing Characters' thoughts, or the Storyteller (as Narrator) may sing about the story.
Thus, we were trained in a particular ancient Communication Skill. We believe this Communication Skill could be very useful in holding the attention of listeners (children and others), when we are telling Folk Tales and other stories, in Tamil and in any other language.
Immediately following CSF2013, 16 participants attended a "Storytelling Workshop in the Countryside" (Feb 5-6).
The CSF2013 was followed by a visit to the Thanjavur area for a Storytelling Workshop in the traditional Storytelling style known as Kathaiyum Paattum (Story and Song).
Our hosts were scholars related to the Folklore Dept of Tamil University, and a number of the (especially women) Storytellers they have been working with over the years. Translation was available (Tamil-English, etc).
Our Storytelling teachers told us "Raja-Rani Kathai" ("King-Queen Stories"), and "Paati Kathai" ("Grandmother Stories"), about strong and clever women, especially Kannagi of Silappathikaram (the Epic of the Anklet).
We learned ways of telling these local stories, and any stories, in the Story and Song style (in Tamil and English).
Story and Song is a great treasure of Tamil Storytelling. It involves speaking a story, and occasionally breaking into song: sometimes the narrator sings about the story; and sometimes characters sing their thoughts. Story and Song is so "grass-roots" that it is often not noticed by people who are not themselves engaging in the activity. It is a classic "under-the-radar" activity (not high enough to be noticed), because it is a primarily a domestic, non-professional art and craft, often a part of child-rearing.
Equivalents of Story and Song are practiced throughout much of the African-Indian-Pacific region of the world.
Day 1 (Tues 5 Feb 2013).
Met local Storytellers.
Saw local landscapes -- Agriculture (Marutam) and Pasture (Mullai) lands.
Story-and-Song Storytelling Workshop began.
Day 2 (Wed 6 Feb 2013).
In Late Afternoon: Story and Song Storytelling Performance
for School Children.
For info about the 2014 Chennai Storytelling Festival, please contact 98403 94282, www.storytellinginstitute.org .