Once upon a time

MAGICAL TALES

Once upon a time

With the number of storytellers and storytelling groups in the City increasing by the day, the age-old practice of storytelling has been gaining popularity among people. In fact, storytelling is turning out to be more than just a recreational activity.

One of the groups that is dedicated to reviving and promoting the art of storytelling in the City is the Kathalaya Trust. The group conducts several activities for children and adults. Geeta Ramanujam, the executive director of the trust, has travelled to around 90 countries to spread the art form. She feels that though storytelling has become commercial, it is the need of the hour. “People are so hooked to gadgets nowadays. They are busy in their own world and do not want to talk to anyone. This is where storytelling comes into play. It allows people to communicate freely and shed their inhibitions,” says Geeta. “Storytelling is not only a means of entertainment but also a learning tool,” she adds.

The Bangalore Storytelling Society (BSS), which was formed last year, holds meet ups, ‘tell-a-thons’, festivals and workshops. The members also network and collaborate with international storytelling groups. Deeptha Vivekanand, president of the BSS, says that more and more people are taking part in the activity. “A number of people are joining our team to share their personal experiences. Storytelling acts as a stressbuster too,” she informs.

The art form is being used even in the health sector. Arthi Anand, who runs ‘Art Tales’, has been volunteering at Kidwai Kids Cancer Unit and Anand Vidyalaya, Ejipura slum kids. She takes time out of her corporate job to pursue her love for storytelling and has even written two books for children. “These children are deprived of many good things in life and suffer from various diseases. Storytelling helps them forget their pain and uplifts their spirit,” she notes. Arthi’s uses minimal props but spices her sessions up with song and dance.

The founder of ‘Around the Story Tree’, Vikram Sridhar is also a theatre personality and uses storytelling to convey the importance of conservation. “Stories often depict animals in a particular way. For example, foxes are sly and snakes are dangerous. I want to break all these stereotypes,” he says.Some storytellers even help children perform better in school. Aparna Athreya, the founder of Kid and Parent Foundation, has made math, history and science easy for many school kids. She believes that children find it easy to grasp information when it is presented in a storytelling format.“School should be aninteractive and learning forum but today, they have become commercial. Children just mug up their lessons and present that in their exams. We are trying to use storytelling to make academics more fun,” she says.

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