India has a living mythology: Emily Hennessey

India has a living mythology: Emily Hennessey

Emily Hennessey

People tell stories everyday in different forms, it is woven into our lives,” says Emily Hennessey, a British performance storyteller. She was in Bangalore last week for a workshop on storytelling in the workplace. Organised by the British Council, it was part of a series of workshops she did across India.

Her favourite stories to tell currently are those from Hindu mythology. Storytelling to her is an art form of the oral tradition that revolves around telling a story often partly improvised to an audience of any size, age and anywhere you like. “No costumes or props are required, it is purely a product of your imagination and creativity,” she says.

“I love that in India stories are a big part of everyday life, everyone is in touch with the mythologies of their tradition. This kind of living mythology is mostly lost in the West,” she says. She is deeply fascinated by the Indian storytelling aesthetic. 

The performer who describes her style as physical and dynamic, says, “The skills used for storytelling are skills that are useful for everyone.” Which are developing communication techniques, using your voice, gestures and facial expressions effectively and knowing how to structure a story. She says these skills helps one communicate ideas to a colleague or  in putting forward a pitch or making a presentation. When asked about the space for storytelling in India, she says that storytelling has been happening for centuries in rural India, it is the urban spaces that have lost touch with it. “We all need stories, we need to look beyond our screens and connect with people around us in the live experience of listening to a storyteller,” she says.