SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Friday, February 22, 2013

Chennai Storytelling Conference: Feb 2013

Storytelling is a relationship created between the person telling and the person listening through the medium of a narrative, an oral language. This relationship remains just a communication between the two, but when the teller consciously reaches out to connect with her audience, then magic is created as they then choose to embark on a journey together, a journey of discovery, a journey of interpretation and meaning. 

Watch this presentation, snapshots from the Chennai Storytelling Conference. Be patient as it is 18 minutes long, but worth it!!  

Storytellers get all geeky when they get together.They want to talk about narratives and metaphors, story structure, theories and processes, maybe even get pedantic...Now balance that with pure fun, passion, sharing, and connecting...Even then  I cannot do justice to a space that involves Storytellers, Storytelling and Stories!

Conferences are fun, learning spaces and a great occasion to network. Well, we got some of that and more at the Storytelling Conference held at Chennai in February this year.

Envisioned by Eric Miller of the World Storytelling Institute (WSI), a well known face in Chennai in this space, he is a passionate advocate of stories in its native form (regional stories/ stories from folklore etc). Ably supported by a team of extremely capable Storytellers who have pitched their time and resources exceedingly well. Kudos is due to all of them.

The keynote speaker Kamini Ramachandran captured this magic for us in her Inaugural address, a glimpse is what we got, but never-the-less, a story is what I carried back, a story that showed me what happens to a story if it is kept within, for, a story must be told, she said, narrating to us a tale from a.k.ramanujam's collection. 

My partner Aparna and I chose to share our work with children. Using stories to develop social and emotional skills in young children. Fables, folktales and social stories are visualised by us to tell and teach skills that will help children develop self awareness.

Stories use the language of emotions and we saw this being repeated in most of the speakers, whether it was the dancer Anita Ratnam, creating a dramatic story impromptu, or the precision storytelling required for business as told by Sandhya Ruben of Eloquens.  

Video Conferencing acted as a bridge, bringing us closer to tellers from around the world. Conceptually a fantastic idea, as we got to see and interact with known and familiar tellers from around the world like Tim Sheppard, but this is still nascent technology and for more earthy and hands on people, the technical difficulties and disconnect was a little frustrating.

Fishermen stories, dhoni paatu (catamaran songs), using the song and story technique were some of the other variations that we got to see of this medium.  

Though we got to see performances by tellers of repute, Kamini and Usha Venkataraman, and members of the CSA ( Chennai Storytelling Association), I come away wanting more stories. It struck me that we spoke about story telling and techniques or its application, but we did not share as many stories. The scope of a more didactic conference such as this, does not make space for more telling spaces I think. But I would like to see more Tellers, More telling and definitely more stories being shared at the next Story telling conference.