Let me start this blog with a post on my very first storytelling festival which I’ve attended in Singapore recently. It’s called the Singapore International Story Telling Festival (SISF). If you’ve not heard of SISF, it’s a gathering of great storytellers from around the world who come to explore the many manifestations of storytelling, and how it can be used as an aid to learning in education. This year, we had the honour of listening stories told by Sherri and Bobby Norfolk (Bobby is the one in the picture on the left) from USA, Ruth Kirkpatrick, Abbi Patrix from France, Randel McGee & Groark (his witty, green dragon) from USA, Roger Jenkins, Lillian Rodrigues-Pang from Australia, Beatriz Montero from Spain, Dr. Gideon Arulmani from India, and Kamini Ramacandran and Sheila Wee from Singapore.
The festival was held from 1 – 5 September. I attended the workshops on the 3rd and 4th. Every morning, there was ‘Storytime’, when a storyteller would perform/tell a story for 15 minutes. On both mornings, we had the honour of listening to Kamini and Sheila. They were wonderful and I loved how they delivered their stories – simple, calming and soothing. Sheila’s very graceful and elegant, totally the opposite of Lillian (Lilli) and Beatriz who were more theatrical, though I could relate better to Beatriz and Lilli’s way of storytelling.
After Storytime and Keynote, we adjourned to our respective areas for the chosen workshops. As there were 3 workshops running concurrently in one time slot (11am – 1pm), we had to choose 1 out of the 3. Today, we had to choose between Randel McGee’s 1000 Voices Speaking Perfectly Loud, Sherry & Bobby Norfolk’s Helping Struggling Readers: How Storytelling Can Make A Difference and Ruth Kirkpatrick’s Storymaking with Children with Special Needs: A Different Point of View. Tough choice, huh? 😦 So. I decided on….Randel McGee’s workshop, because I can’t wait to meet GROARK! (Sorry Randel hehe :P)
1000 Voices Speaking Perfectly Loud by Randel McGee, 11am – 1pm
This workshop basically introduces the techniques of using the vocal chords and other speech makers to produce a variety of character voices and sound effects to add excitement and colour to your storytelling presentations. In this workshop, I learnt that the important things to look out for in using character voices are: pitch, speed (the higher the speed, the higher the pitch), volume, age and size. These are also the natural factors that affect our speech. Whereas, the learned factors are breath control, accent, culture and vocabulary. And of course, to master these, you need to practice, practice and practice!
What made this session more interesting was that one of the participants brought a puppet with her, and asked Randel if he could help give this puppet a character (refer to picture with the orange puppet on the right). I was amazed by how Randel handled it. He looked at it, touched it, played with it, and in no time, made it come alive! (I’m not exaggerating) Suddenly, that puppet has A CHARACTER. He could even make it ‘look’ old, by just changing its voice, speed of speech and motion. Great stuff!
Then he told us the story of the Princes and the Pea while cutting a black piece of paper. When coming to the end of the story, voila! The plain black piece of paper, became a cut-out of the princess, the pea and the layers and layers of mattresses! Brilliant, isn’t he??
For the second session (3 – 5pm) after lunch, we had to choose between Roger Jenkins’s Interact and Bond with Children with Special Needs using Simple Storytelling Techniques, Beatriz Montero’s Storytelling for Babies and Toddlers and Lillian Rodrigues-Pang’s Culture, Language and Your Stories. I chose the last one.
I love Lillian’s workshops (I attended both of them. Another one the next day. More on that later in my next post). She came with lots of knowledge and experience to share. She started off this workshop with a story, set in West Africa, about The Hat Seller named BaMusa, who learnt his first ‘business’ lesson from a few monkeys who stole his hat. This story, if read directly would be very plain. But Lilli made it more interesting by dramatizing it and adding repeated phrases using a song, which we could all sing together. Then she showed us how she could use this story and set it in Mexico.