Are we not fond of stories? Story telling has come a long way out of our grandmother’s kitties in our childhood to becoming a prominent part of mainstream art , with storytelling groups, professional storytellers, workshops, lectures, theatres , start-ups and the lot coming into existence. Interestingly, each year India celebrates various ‘Days’ but never until 2017 has it celebrated World Storytelling Day on the 20th of March. Thus, Priyanka Chatterjee of Wild Strawberry came up with the concept of having a week-long celebration of this grand event which was to be celebrated in the City of Joy for the first time.
As a prelude to the World Storytelling Day on the 20th, Wild Strawberry organised the Story Slam on the 19th of March from 5pm to 7pm in Au Bon Pain, Park Street. The concept of the program was very simple with 14 registered participants telling stories in front of an audience. The narration of these stories were of different types from puppetry to dance drama to simple narration. Each participant enthralled the audience with their storytelling skills. Shubhashis Ghosh , a story teller for the evening says, “When a storyteller by heart, gets an opportunity to tell a story and listen to a wide range of stories too on the occasion of World Storytelling Day, then you can understand how glad that person will be. Thank you Wild Strawberry for providing such a platform. I’m ready with lot more interesting stories for upcoming events like this” Another performer, Sanjukta Sarkar went on to say, “The process of telling stories adhered to the theme of ‘Transformation’, because it was a transforming experience in itself. With so many story tellers reading out their souls, we were part of an inspiring session, where we traded magical words.” Paroma Sengupta also commented, “I loved the concept of the Story Slam and think it is a wonderful way of celebrating World Storytelling Day. I enjoyed participating in the event and hope there will be many more such events in the city!”
The participants for the evening were: Biyas Dutta, Priyanka Chatterjee, Arpita Nag, Somolekha Sur, Pragya Goel Gupta, Sanjukta Sarkar, Shubhashish Ghosh, Paroma Sengupta, Sriradha Paul, Kamala Kanta Mistri, Shesadri Shekhar Das, Indrajit Lahiri, Swapna Sen and Sougoto Sarkar.
Apart from the story telling sessions by fourteen participants, there was also the newly introduced concept of book tasting. Here, people could browse through some of the best-sellers and read their reviews written by readers. The audience had appreciated the performances and the concept very much. Raymond Rozario , who attended such an event for the first time said, “Being my first time at a storytelling event, it was a wonderful experience. Enjoyed the unique forms of storytelling through dance, recital and puppetry. Perhaps simple, low-key events such as this will spread the love for & interest for art forms for many years to come.” Shilpa Bhaskaran, another spectator also commented that, “The Storytelling Slam was an event to celebrate the storyteller in each one of us. Every story shared was unique, beautifully narrated, and had a touch of innocence that added to the hues of the canvas called Life. I look forward to similar events, which would bring out the creative genius in each one of us.”
What interested the audience in general were the different forms of art- oratory, voice modulation, acting, puppetry , dance and even the use of Sanskrit language to narrate stories – that were used while performing. This created an interesting atmosphere in the event and captured the attention of the audience with a wide array of performances. The event was open to everyone, from all walks of life to come, share, listen, participate or just watch. In fact our tiniest storyteller Biyas was only seven years old.
This event gave a platform and an impetus to all to display their skills of story-telling in front of an audience. Certificates and gifts were given to not only the participants but also to the audience to encourage them into the field of story-telling and also be supportive and attend such events in the future .
To conclude, it would have been impossible to host such a successful event without the partners –Squares and Circles , the Design partner; Au Bon Pain , the Venue Partner and Mesh, the Gift Partner. Assitej India and Assitej International have always been a boosting factor for events such as these. They have always supported and helped in the implementation of artistic events for the city and the country as a whole. In fact, with their support, it has become possible to continue the celebrations for almost over a week throughout the City of Joy.