She just wishes people could take some time out from their focus on electronics and graphics to experience storytelling.

Meet the people who are reviving the art of storytelling in Chennai
news Storytelling Saturday, September 03, 2016 - 11:30

If you miss your grandma’s story telling sessions, Chennai has an answer for you. A group of people are reviving the art of story-telling.

“When my grandmother used to tell me stories, there was a personal touch to it. That’s what gave wings to my imagination and that feeling, still grips you. If only people take some time to experience it,” says Asha Sampath, (53), founder of Chennai Storytellers.

She just wishes people could take some time out from their focus on electronics and graphics to experience storytelling. In 2015, Asha Sampath came up with the idea of bringing together storytellers from across the city, and also creating a platform for budding storytellers.

“When I started out as a storyteller, I had to find a creative platform to perform. I did not want anyone else to go through the same,” Asha says. Currently, about 30 storytellers are part of the group.

To catch a storytelling session, you can go to the Anna Centenary Library every Sunday or the Odyssey in Adyar every second Saturday. Each month, they choose a theme.

“We try to figure out an important day or date. This time, South East Asia celebrates moon festival, so I performed a story ‘Over the Moon’. We try to look what is going on in our own country or city, or sometimes we tell nature or season tales,” she said.

“If we have a mixed crowd, we do not talk about social issues. If it is there are 7-year-olds and adults, we occasionally talk about women issues or other issues,” said Asha.

There is a global revival in storytelling. “For close to six years, I have seen storytelling growing. That is why you see so many storytellers today. Stories engage us and are not merely for entertainment. It gives us the confidence to just stand up and speak up. Storytelling is also a good way of teaching,” she said.

All one needs to be a storyteller is a passion for storytelling, backed up by gestures, facial expressions, and voice modulation. One needs to become a character in the story. “When I read a story, the story tells me, ‘Please share me’. I then make it my own and think of making it interesting, sometimes include song and dance.”

Asha sometimes performs stories that she herself has written.

“People are happy to have free story telling sessions. But they are not very forthcoming when it comes to paying fees. There is a bigger crowd when it is a free performance. Secondly, not many, corporate organizations or schools have story-telling sessions,” she said.

Asha also runs another initiative called ‘Tale Spin: a platform for stories’.


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