TRADING TALES IN SINGAPORE
Singapore, a high tech, world class city with a dominant corporate culture,
seems an unlikely place for the revival of storytelling. Look deeper.
Singapore is a cultural crossroads for the world which embraces many
languages, many religions and many traditions as part of its rich diversity.
This crossroads make Singapore a perfect place for travellers to trade
stories, and that’s what I was doing last November. A new event on the
international storytelling scene, The Asian Congress of Storytellers, is a
must go for storytellers who are interested in global traditions as well as
the revival of storytelling as a contemporary art form.
I attended the Congress as a radio journalist and storyteller, wanting to
explore the way in which stories connect people from all cultures, and to
learn more about the story traditions from different countries like India,
China and Thailand. In just two days of workshops, I came away with a head
full of new stories and ideas as well as a whole new world of cultural
understanding which was opened up to us all. Diane Ferlatte, the keynote
speaker, summed up the conference philosophy and experience in her riveting
presentation about “United Through Story”. It brings me great joy that to
know we can travel anywhere in the world, and regardless of our culture,
religion, language or looks, we can make friends by sharing stories with
The Asian Storytelling Network and the National Book Development Council of
Singapore, have created a series of storytelling events to revive the
tradition of storytelling in Asia, nurturing new storytellers and creating
new ways of telling stories. The main event, The Asian Congress of
Storytellers, is in it’s fourth year and attracts thousands of people. There
is also a concert series, a storytelling circle and storytelling workshop
throughout the year. This year the featured storytellers included Wajuppa
Tossa from Thailand, Rangimoana from New Zealand, Linda Fang a Chinese
American, and Katherine Mcleod, A Canadian/Aussie traveler. Locally, there
are many gifted storytellers who work behind the scenes to help make these
My visit to Singapore was an opportunity to immerse myself totally in
stories from many lands, to learn about traditions and languages from places
which I know so little about, and to make new storytelling friends so that
we can all continue to be connected through stories. I highly recommend that
you attend the Congress to inspire your own storytelling, and to affirm the
work that we are all doing in Australia and abroad, to promote the
wonderful, powerful, soulful, ancient art of storytelling.
For more info look up the website.
I also highly recommend reading the reference book by Margaret Read Mac
Donald “Traditional Storytelling Today”.
P.S. The Congress is especially relevant to teachers, caregivers, parents,
librarians, community workers and dramatists