The seventh edition of the Chennai Storytelling Festival, organised by the World Storytelling Institute in collaboration with Chennai Storytellers and other organisations, began on Thursday. This 10-day festival will have several storytelling sessions and will see the participation of 35 storytellers from India, the US, Canada and Scotland.
Speaking to TNM, Dr Eric Miller, co-founder of the World Storytelling Institute, explains that storytelling is for creativity, teaching, training and healing. This year, the festival has a total of 22 events that includes storytelling workshops for students, parents, educators, business trainers, and psychological counsellors as well.
The festival also has a good number of sessions planned around women in folktales. Dr Miller says, â€śEvery year we encourage stories on strong and clever girls and women. About 95% of our storytellers, teachers and audience members are women. It gives us a chance to revisit folklore. In these stories, there are many strong woman characters who are active and not just passive and waiting to be activated by a prince. We are celebrating that.â€ť
This year, a total of five sessions from the festival will also be available for online participants. â€śThis is probably the first time that such a festival is organising video conferencing. It is a revolutionary step for us. The storytellers are both real and virtual,â€ť shares Eric.
A video conference session on â€śA Discussion about Storytelling for Creativity, Teaching, Training, and Healingâ€ť at 7.00 pm on February 6 and the sessions on February 8 and 9 at Loyola College are available for online participants.
The festival also has sessions by Ruth Stotter from California and Marion Kenny from Scotland. Priyanka Chatterjee from Kolkata, Debarati Banerjee from Hyderabad, Seema Wahi Mukherjee from New Delhi, Rohini Vij from Kanpur and M Pandirajan from Chennai are some of the storytellers from India who will be a part of this yearâ€™s festival.
Storytellers Diana Tso and Rubena Sinha from Toronto, Canada will also be hosting sessions and discussions this year.
Stressing on the importance of discussions in storytelling, Dr Miller says, â€śThe discussion about the story, what it means and how it teaches a lesson, is at least as important as the story itself."
The Storytelling Festival in Chennai began as a brief two-day fest that happened over a weekend and then progressed to a week of preliminary events followed by a weekend, and has now become a 10-day festival. The festival will conclude on February 10. For more details on schedule and registration, you can click here.