November 29, 2013 12:00 am | Updated 02:22 am IST

EVENT The first marathon storytelling session of the Bangalore Storytelling Network saw 15 of its members share their stories

“Storytelling creates an underlying thread that connects us all because of the sharing that happens through it,” says Sowmya, professional storyteller and co-founder of the Bangalore Storytelling Network, a city-based group that conducts informal storytelling workshops on a monthly basis in a bid to revive, nurture and promote this age-old art.

She certainly has succeeded in connecting people if the crowd that showed up for the Tell-a-Thon held recently at Urban Solace Café are anything to go by. More than 60 people from hugely diverse backgrounds including IT, education, corporate, medicine, theatre, stay-at-home parents and professional storytellers, showed up to bond over stories.

“The response was overwhelming,” says Deeptha Vivekanand, the other founder of this initiative, a professional storyteller who runs a story-based learning centre for children and young adults. Adds Sowmya, “Bangalore really supports storytelling. We have a discerning group that is ready to express itself over platforms like this one.”

And the expression took place in different forms. From the story of a girl who spends her life pining over a lost love only to discover that she was married to him to a short story by Jeffery Archer, a folk tale from Africa with feministic leanings, a story of the relationship between a little girl and her grandmother, an autobiographical account of a rather frightening aerial adventure—every story was a reflection of some aspect of human existence and left one feeling amused, touched, joyful and saddened in equal measure.

“The storytellers were chosen on a first come, first serve basis,” says Sowmya. “We did not restrict the telling style and there wasn’t too much structure defining the process, except that each person was given five minutes. We kept it free flowing and general as most people wanted it that way.”

Yet it doesn’t stop with this for the six-month old group that holds similar forums on a regular basis. “We would like marathon sessions of storytelling like this one on a regular basis. We would like to get some structures in place and bring more fineness into the proceedings. We are also thinking of ticketing the event. In the west, performance storytelling garners tremendous response. Take for example The Moth, a New York based non-profit organisation dedicated to storytelling. They have a strict selection process, rehearsed sessions and it is considered to be very prestigious to have performed on that platform. We are trying to base our model on that. We have gotten a fantastic response in the six months…”


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