TELLING STORIES IN SINGAPORE
It’s great to hear that so many Aussie tellers are being heard at international festivals and events. I was honoured to have been one of the featured tellers at this year’s Singapore International Storytelling Festival (SISF), in September. It’s so exciting to be part of an event working alongside storytellers from around the world. This year’s tellers included Ethnotec (USA), Randall McGee (USA), Ruth Kirkpatrick (Sotland), Valentina Ortiz (Mexico), Marien Tillet (France) and Bobby and Sherry Norfolk (USA). The program was a fell two weeks of workshops and shows covering so many aspects of storytelling from how to engage children, to literacy in schools, to digital storytelling.
I was only able to attend one of the two weeks of the festival, but wow, what a week! Hundreds of people came to the Storytelling Congress at the National Museum of Singapore. As well as it being a very flash venue, it was great to see so many people there to listen to stories and to learn everything they could about storytelling. I sensed a great hunger and passion for stories from all the people who attended my workshops. The workshops were booked up and the showcase was booked out. Events like this are an inspiration for us Aussies as we continue to search for ways to build a stronger storytelling audience around Australia.
In it’s fifth year, The SISF has certainly grown to be a premiere event, nurturing and supporting an enthusiastic community of storytellers and story lovers. The executive Director of the National Book Development Council Singapore (NBDCS) has great visions for the future of this festival, making connections between the diverse forms of contemporary storytelling, including digital storytelling. These types of festivals are a valuable forum for shaping the future of storytelling, and finding a diverse range of places and spaces where we can integrate storytelling into our community and family cultures.
One of the things I enjoyed most about SISF was the challenge which I was given to present a wide range of workshops which reflect the diversity of my work, with a focus on storytelling with children. Most of the people who came to my workshops were teachers, parents and community volunteers. The audiences were large (I had up to 70 people in one workshop), and most of the workshops were short (two hours), but there was a lot of positive energy and openness to learning which made this a very rich few hours.
I particularly enjoyed my all day workshop “Storytelling With Young Children – Early Intervention Literacy and Parenting Programs”. Initially a little nervous about working in different cultural contexts, from the Aussie bush to urban Singapore, I soon relaxed into the universal language of story when hearts speak to hearts. Many laughs were had, many stories shared and many magic moments created this day. My other workshops were:
• Storytelling for Children with Special Needs
• Working With Stories
• Creative Storytelling with Young Children
In between all the workshops and shows, it was great to have some time to talk story with the other tellers, and to learn about what’s happening with storytelling in their hometown.
I look forward to the opportunity to visit Singapore again soon, and encourage everyone to check this festival out.
More information is on the BookCouncil’s website