Storytelling has been an integral part of most cultures. In a vast country like India which is a melange of cultures and traditions, it is obvious that there are lots of stories,” says Godfrey Duncan aka Tuup.
The international storyteller and musician was in the city at the invitation of The British Council to conduct a ‘Art for Storytelling’ workshop for storytellers and teachers on the essentials of the art form. We caught up with him before the session at the Pune Library. He tells us how storytelling is gaining popularity and why the spoken word needs to respected.
“With the rise in the number of literature and storytelling festivals being held in India, more and more people are getting exposed to the new trends. It definitely adds to the growing interest,” Tuup says, adding, “Stories give people sensibility, the ability of social communication and generations of memories in forms of emotions.”
Emphasising the importance of the genre in the 21st century, where people communicate via screens, the storyteller says, “The screens are now behaving like walls and youngsters belonging to this generation find this pretty normal. But older people don’t follow this trend. They want to give a part of their life, thoughts and emotions and pass it down to the younger generations. Here, stories step in, they create a bond between people, between generations. The stories are nothing but a quality fragment of memories that people recall.”
Tuup then goes on to say that both the young and the old can learn from stories. “Storytelling and stories is for everyone, for children, for adults, women and men. As a storyteller, we have to believe in the story we are telling, to be able to convey emotions and connect and interact with the audience ensuring that they enjoy themselves and have a good time,” he says.
“As a storyteller you have to be able to break down walls and inhibitions that people have towards a certain subject or topic. But this should not be done in a harsh way,” he adds. He believes that you simply have to step out of their comfort zones as a storyteller and actually live the ‘Once Upon a Time’.
Talking of the importance of the spoken and written words, Tuup says, “I believe in this saying — ‘Word before the pen’. These days people usually believe anything which is written down. But I truly believe that emphasis should be given to the spoken words as well. Writing down your experiences, the things you hear and the thoughts you have and things that make sense to you, gives the spoken word a power. Both spoken and written words deserve the prominence and validation.”
The British Council has partnered with Nivesh, the organisers of Kathakar, which is an international storytellers festival in New Delhi. Through these storytelling workshops and performances, The British Council libraries give visitors an opportunity to meet and learn from renowned UK artists.