Storytelling in Digital Age

Everybody loves stories —stories that are informative, delightful, surprising and engaging.

“It’s funny how people get curious when I tell them I am a storyteller. I have to show them my Twitter handle (@tweetsanup) and business card, which mention this credential. I can talk ad nauseam, put across a point through a tale and sell an idea. That’s the kind of storyteller I am.

Storytelling can be in various forms and also different mediums.

For Vergine Gulbenkian’s journey with storytelling began 28 years ago.

“When I tell a story, I respond to the audience every moment and we are co-creating because we are alive to the moment.”

Participating in the “Share your stories” workshop by Vergine Gulbenkian, the UK-based storyteller, at The British Council, I was exposed to traditional stories and how to explore different styles of storytelling through a range of exercises. At the workshop Vergine shared how as a child, she had heard stories from her Armenian grandparents, who fled Turkey due to genocide and how to enjoy the stories which led her interest in performance to reciting poetry and then drama. Vergine focussed on communication through performance and how to develop work for different audiences.

The beauty of a story is that it works on a subconscious level and that is why I can’t stand when people interpret, analyse or tell morals in it. It needs to be left open and works like magic which is why it is important especially for children.”

As reported by Neeraja Murthy in The Hindu, Vergine saw a film on Mahabharata and the richness of stories made her hungry for more. Confessing that it is not easy to make a living out of storytelling Vergine is quite intrigued by the modern day business Story Tellers from India, as she feels Stories connect to one’s soul emotionally and make even the mundane look magical; they create an impression on the young minds and relax and stimulate adults.

In this age of short-term memories, it’s important to keep oral storytelling alive

Oral storytelling is telling a story through voice and gestures and can be in any form poems, songss, epic, rhymes, chants …. and also using various props masks, puppets or even musical instruments.

I had a chance to interact with writer Ben (Beret) Okri, 32, the London-based Nigerian poet and novelist few years back at the Jaipur Literature Festival. He says that he “sleeps” in his beret which has become part of his perosona but actually has a very respectable history and got nothing to do with image but gives him a comfortable framing of the sense of self.

Oral storytelling combines tradition with improvisation. It carries over the stories that we inherited with a slant of our times. It’s also important for memory and remembering. For the youngest winner of the Booker Prize, Ben, it was his mother’s style of reprimanding him as a child using metaphors and oblique references that helped him develop his craft.  Ben says that today we’ve all become people who only write our stories and have short-term memories.

Image Courtesy: The Guardian, Nigeria

Sometimes something happens in the world that is so horrible, you try to write but your hands are mute and your mind is shocked into stones. Poets can say great and important things about the human condition, briefly, clearly and mysteriously. They can infect our mind with questions, hold a strange mirror to what we do to ourselves, teach us to listen to the voices destroying us in our times.

Image Courtesy: Google Image Search

Anup Sharma (@TweetsAnup)
The author is a StoryTeller with two decades of experience in Public Relations and Corporate Communications. He is also the Senior Director at Public Relations Consultants Association of India.

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