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.
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.