Reviving the Art of Storytelling

“Stories can continue, stories don’t need an ending” - Audience Member

John Namai, a Storyteller from Kenya, facilitates a workshop at Cradle of Creativity on the Art of Sigana Storytelling
John Namai, a Storyteller from Kenya, facilitates a workshop at Cradle of Creativity on the Art of Sigana Storytelling

Storytelling can be traced back through the ages. Prior to written text and literature, communication of stories, traditions, customs and values was often through the oral traditions of voice and song. Yet, despite the sharing of stories holding such a rich historical tradition, a key theme that emerged during Cradle of Creativity’s Focus Day on Theatre and Storytelling was how we seem to be devaluing the role that Storytelling plays in today’s society.

During the discussion on Storytelling methodologies, Orek Omondi, from Kenya, and Mohammad Aghebati, from Iran, explored the Storytelling practices and traditions from their respective homelands.

Participants in action at the Art of Sigana Storytelling workshop at Cradle of Creativity

Naqqali, a dramatic mode of Storytelling in Iran, and Sigana, a Kenyan traditional Performance practice that incorporates stories, are seemingly connected in the sense that they both involve Elders passing down stories to Young People. Through ceremonies in tearooms, or around moonlight fires, Storytellers perfect their craft for the purpose of engaging and educating Young People about their own culture and history.

However, in the digitally interconnected world in which we now find ourselves, other sources of information increasingly take precedence over the tales of our Elders. Social media means that everyone has become a Storyteller, in one way or another, in their own right. Do the traditional modes of Storytelling, therefore, represent a dying Art form? Should we be doing more to protect the role of Storytellers in our communities?

John Namai, a member of the ASSITEJ Next Generation programme and a Storyteller from Kenya, facilitated a workshop on Wednesday, 17th May, 2017 on the Art of Sigana Storytelling. Below you will find an audio recording (6 minutes) of short excerpts from his workshop, presented alongside an interview with him in which he speaks of his own perspective on the value of Storytelling.

John Namai

Laura Dean (Associate Director)
Laura is a keen advocate for the Arts in Education. A graduate of the Comparative and International Education MA program at Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA, USA), Laura’s research interests revolve around how Arts subjects, and Theatre in particular, can play a crucial role to the development of a student’s social and emotional well-being, whilst bolstering their academic attainment. Having lived in numerous places around the world, and worked to support international students in a university setting, Laura is interested in supporting global Education policy. With an avid interest in Theatre & Performance, she is delighted to be bringing her two passions together to lead on Dialogue’s Community Performance for Education work.