Children

Sangeeta Goel: Most of my work is story-based

The Bengaluru-based storyteller is sending audio stories on social media on request

While most performers are wondering how to be useful during the lockdown, storyteller Sangeeta Goel, is taking requests. It all started when a friend asked her to share a story. “I recorded one and sent it to him. The response was heart-warming. I put out a tweet informing friends that I was taking requests.” Sangeeta was born and raised in a town called Doom Domma in Assam. She grew up amidst people who came from various socio-economic backgrounds. “We lived together sharing food, songs, customs and lending a hand during difficult times. I miss the empathy and sensitivity I saw while growing up.” Sangeeta spoke to Metroplus about the joys of storytelling. Excerpts

Could you tell us about the stories you share?

I have shared seven audio stories with around 35 to 40 people. On social media I ask people about their preferences with regard to theme — whether it is courage, discipline, resilience, love or hope. I prefer audio-storytelling capsules, but there is a demand for video too.

When people send me a request, I find a story that I have already recorded and share. When I am asked for a story with a particular theme, I look up (online or my memory) to find a story that suits the theme, record and send. There are benefits and drawbacks to taking requests. While I can put a story out there and let people chance upon it, when people receive something, it feels personal. I enjoy that. I tell everyone who requests a story that we can chat about the story or anything else they would like to share once they have heard the story. I check with people if they would like to receive more stories.

I send friends a story or two without them requesting it but otherwise I am wary of spamming people. A request works better for me now. There are a few video sessions lined up as well.

What kind of stories do you record?

I have only recorded folktales so far. I do wish to record autobiographical stories too.

What prompted you to take up storytelling?

I am not very sure. I had a neighbour who I called Ma and who told me lots of stories and poems. I loved books and songs. I remember my teacher reading out a chapter from The Diary of Anne Frank. I was in second standard then, I remember enjoying the reading very much. I am not sure if that put me on the storytelling path. I was told I had to be successful. After education, I took up a corporate job but I could not find a purpose there, so, I quit. I am aware that my privileged background allowed me to take that decision. I was doing anything that came my way after I quit my job and that is when I found storytelling.

Apart from storytelling, you are also a playback theatre artist and an educator in the areas of social and emotional learning

When one of my storytelling guides, Ameen Haque, spoke to me of the need to educate teenagers on emotions. I was already reading about the feminist movement and related literature. And what Ameen said made sense and stuck with me. I began started reading more about it. I trained with TARSHI (Talking About Reproductive and Sexual Health Issues) and did a basic counselling course for adolescents with special needs from F.A.M.E. India. My training in Theatre of the Oppressed also informs the work I do in this area.

Playback theatre feeds my creative process, keeps me grounded, helps me look at things from multiple perspectives, appreciate, acknowledge and honour the stories that every human carries. It helps me see that we as humans are connected with each other through our stories, that we all experience emotions.

All my work is connected with some form of storytelling. If I am going to use techniques and tools from Theatre of the Oppressed to work with teenagers, I am again working with stories.

Sangeeta Goel: Most of my work is story-based

Why does Kabir fascinate you?

Like most of us, I was introduced to Kabir in school. I could never understand my teacher’s explanations. My mother’s explanations made more sense to me then. I read this couplet in school and it had a huge impact on me —Jaati na pucho sadhu ki, puch lijiye gyaan; Mol karo talwar ka, pada rehen do myaan.

Much later I heard Shabnam Virmani sing ‘Kin Sang Karein Sneh’ at a music festival. After that, I started to read Kabir’s works. It is like an ocean. I don't even know a drop. I attended a two-week workshop by Prahlad Ji Tipaniya in Luniyakhedi in Madhya Pradesh. I do not feel qualified enough, I use just a few couplets here and there.

You can request stories by contacting Sangeeta on Instagram and Twitter (@storytellersang) or email her on sangeeta@storytellersangeeta.com

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:34:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/sangeeta-goel-most-of-my-work-is-story-based/article31270017.ece

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