Rediscovering the art of storytelling

New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) The creative act of presenting tales using words and sounds is losing the value and space it deserves in the world of art. Attempting its revival is the upcoming “Wari” event where five artists will perform and narrate folk stories from different time zones.

The event, which is an Octave Foundation initiative, will be held on Saturday at the India Habitat Centre here. It will see performances by popular Dastango exponent Ankit Chadha, actor and cultural activist Abhinav Sabyasachi, freelance journalist Anuja Jaiman, voice over artist Rishabh Mittal and the Mumbai-based actor and singer Vipin Heero.

“Wari is a Manipuri word that means story. I grew up listening to a lot of stories. At a certain stage in life I realised that there was nobody in my life to tell me stories. I started interacting with people and knowing their stories and decided to do this event,” Nicky Chandam, the curator of the show told IANS.

“I felt that we northeastern people have a difficult life here in Delhi. We are not accepted for who we are. So, I thought stories from the northeast needs to be told to this city. And, I thought that storytelling can be revived in a different form,” she added.

Chandam, who has been chronicling Delhi and its culture started the Octave Foundation to bridge the gap between the northeastern region and the rest of the country via culture and the arts.

Thus, “one of the stories to be performed on Saturday is a Manipuri tale that we have adapted in Urdu”, she said.

Jaiman said: “When you ask somebody about when was the last time they heard stories, they start to recollect the times when they were kids. We don’t listen to or tell stories anymore, as we have so many channels to surf and our smartphones to pass the time”.

“The idea is to bring folk stories or contemporary stories in one space. These are not out and out performances. The focus is on the narrative and are meant for people of all age groups,” Jaiman added.

Unlike a theatrical performance where each person takes one character, storytelling requires a lot of effort. “All of the stories have various characters. One person takes you through various so many characters within a span of 20 minutes,” Jaiman explained.

“If you are doing so many characters, you have to remember their body language, their style, their status and who they are. Things change according to the narrative. I think it is very interesting that we are not doing a theatrical performance where you have to concentrate on just one character. Storytelling is fantastic and also difficult. It is nerve risking and I always have a fear what if I lose my voice or the character, Jaiman elaborated.

Commenting on the linguistic structure of the performances, she said: “They are all simple and understandable with a blend of Hindustani and Urdu.”

“We are trying to create a platform not just for stories in a narrative form but stories in a performance based text or via a dance without even saying a word by bringing together a Hindi text with a Manipuri background score or a Manipuri tale with Tabla”, she concluded.



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