Play-act!

Jeeva Raghunath

Storytelling is a folk art form that has been around for a long time. Unfortunately, over the years, the skill of storytelling was not passed down for reasons unknown. Understanding the gravity of the situation, contemporary storytellers all around the world started the ‘revival of storytelling’. This was about 15 years ago and now there are innumerable tellers… as many as there are grains of rice!

What was done to promote storytelling? Well, modern theatre had come into being and modern music and dance had had their share of growth as well. So the pioneer storytellers decided the best way to reach the masses was through performance! Voila! That is how performance storytelling came to take the centre stage. Storytellers also realized that drama alone wouldn’t bring in the audiences. Storytelling had to be much more than that. For good storytelling, the audience needed to become a part of the story. Thus, storytelling became interactive and had people from the audience recite chants, and sing refrains that were in the story. It became “their” story.

jeeva

What is good about storytelling is that there is no right or wrong way of telling a story. What matters is how well or poorly the story is delivered. Does the narration captivate the audience? Are the emotions of the characters conveyed adequately? Does a listener end up “owning” the story? With performance playing a large role in storytelling, the teller who was able to talk from the heart and address the hearts of the listeners was able to strengthen the bond between the storyteller and the audience. Another positive aspect about performance storytelling is the level of individuality it allows. Each storyteller can use his or her own strengths and customize the way they use them to accomplish ‘good’ storytelling. The art of storytelling is thus unique and each teller a rare gem.

The author is a professional storyteller and writer of children’s books. She has travelled the world participating in international storytelling festivals and has trained over 25000 children and adults in the art of storytelling. She can be reached at jeeva@jeevaraghunath.com.