Fantastic tales from the Norse, African, Scottish canon and beyond take the spotlight at this year’s StoryFest.
“When I talk to young people today about Norse gods, the only ones they know are Thor and Loki from the Avengers. A lot of adults these days only know the myths that have entered popular culture,” says storyteller Kamini Ramachandran.
It stands to reason then, that for the second edition of the Arts House and Storytelling Centre Limited’s Storyfest, the team has decided to theme it #BeLegendary, and focus on sharing myths and legends from around the world. Taking place over a single weekend in June, Storyfest 2018 will see the Arts House transform into a haven for story lovers and story tellers, bringing together 21 storytellers and 17 programmes, from ticketed performances to educational workshops to free fringe activities for all to enjoy.
Storyfest 2018 will feature a total of eight performances and include three Asia Premieres. At the press preview held this week, creative producer Kamini, also the director of Storytelling Centre Limited, introduced media to the three international artists making their debuts here in Singapore; Denmark’s The Telling Theatre comprises Jesper la Cour Andersen and Troels Kirk Ejsing, who have over 20 years of experience telling tales, and will be presenting the Nordic epic Beowulf, Nairobi-based Maimouna Jallow adapts stories from African writers, and will be presenting Lola Shoneyin’s award-winning The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, and Kenyan/Scottish Mara Menzies will present stories from both her cultures in The Illusion of Truth, a critical and commercial hit at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017. These artists will also be presented ticketed performances featuring stories aimed at family audiences during the afternoons, and all six of these performances will be presented at the Play Den.
Says Kamini: “Compared to a dramatic monologue, storytelling and the oral tradition has always been unscripted, and there’s a lot of spontaneity and improvisation, often involving banter and audience interaction to ensure that things like humour can land. These storytellers have been practicing for years – you don’t need mics, just the space and platform to get people around you to listen and get drawn into their world.”
Besides the international performers, Storyfest will also be shining a spotlight on local storytellers with The Singapore Showcase‘s lineup of professionals from the likes of the Storytelling Association, Story Slam Singapore and more, as well as A Caravan of Stories, featuring five young apprentices from the Storytelling Centre’s Young Storytellers Mentorship Project. These storytellers will also take to the stage in Big Tiny’s Story House, transforming their signature tiny house into an intimate, cosy space for friends and family to gather and listen to stories for free throughout each day, surrounded by books and puppets. Visitors can also contribute to visual artist mslatenightjam’s Story Cloth, a set of cloth murals depicting environments inspired by the stories in #BeLegendary, continuing the age old tradition of illustrated fabrics used by bards and storytellers as visual aids.
Kamini ends: “Storytelling in Singapore lives on in places like libraries and schools, but very few people still practice it artistically, and the number of people still crafting performances out of it I can probably count off my fingers. Unlike the international storytellers, who can travel the entire country and tell the same stories week after week, Singapore’s audiences are the same each time you meet them. As local performers, we have to keep expanding our repertoire with new material. But no matter what, we are always being honest and sensitive to the connection we share with the audience, and whether it’s me or the youth performers we’ve mentored, we truly love and want to keep doing this.”
Discover for yourself the spellbinding magic that keeps the oral tradition alive till today, and perhaps, in walking away from Storyfest 2018 armed with the knowledge of age-old legends, you just might be compelled to share it, in true storytelling fashion, with all your friends, and continue keeping this incredible art form well and alive.
StoryFest 2018 takes place at the Arts House from 1st – 3rd June. For the full lineup and tickets, visit their website here