How does one make a story interesting? Shobana Jayaraman and Ashok Aiyar taught a group of eager people just that

Ever heard of doing a crazy jig or yelling a full-throated ‘Aaaah' to worship the God of creativity? The participants of a workshop, organised recently by Anand Deep Enterprises in association with Storytrails, did just that. The participants also learnt the importance of stories in education, the art of rendering stories, and the role of expression and body movement in storytelling.

Fun-filled start

A group of 20 participants — teachers, homemakers and story lovers — gathered in a cosy room with a thatched roof to listen to Shobana Jayaraman and Ashok Aiyar narrate stories and speak about the various aspects of storytelling. The workshop began with a novel ice-breaking session. Participants were asked to come up with three statements about themselves, two true and one false. Many lies and laughs later, Shobana began the session.

“Humans have always been making up stories because it's a reliable way of learning and remembering information,” she said. “When there are a lot of facts and figures, we can look at them as dots and use stories to connect them.”

The biggest challenge in storytelling, said Shobana, was looking at stories from a child's point of view. She narrated a charming story about Charlie the fish and went on to explain the concept of evolution through her story. “We can take a topic from the classroom and make a story out of it,” she said. “It's easy. All it takes is to come up with a cool character that children can relate to.” Ashok chipped in, “With stories, we don't merely teach kids. We generate interest in the subject and make them question things around them.”

Concepts such as seed dispersal, photosynthesis, the importance of vitamins, measurement and functioning of a car engine were explained through stories and role play. At the end of each story, Shobana and Ashok expounded the importance of expressions, repetition, voice modulation, role play and visual aids in storytelling.

There were a lot of activities for the participants too. They contorted their faces to show a number of expressions, did “facial yoga”, produced sound effects for a story narrated by Shobana, came up with ideas to present poetry to kids in an interesting manner, donned a variety of roles, memorised stories and narrated them. Voice exercises were also taught as part of the workshop.

Storytrails in Coimbatore

Chennai-based Storytrails, founded by Vijay Kamalakara, officially launched in Coimbatore through this storytelling workshop. Shobana, a part of Storytrails, hopes to introduce children in Coimbatore to stories through indoor and outdoor trails, and to teachers, through “curriculum-aid trails”.

Short and sweet

Don’t give the listeners too much information

Don’t speak in a monotone

Try avoiding jargon

While organising a role play, don’t choose a concept that involves too many roles

Don’t bombard the audience with too many stories. ‘Story fatigue’ might set in

Use music, dance, visuals and rhymes to liven up the session

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MetroplusJune 28, 2012