Times of India
Everybody loves stories and a bunch of storytellers in the city of Pune have come together to ensure that this art continues — be it at a coffee shop or at spaces where like-minded people come together to enjoy, discuss and bond over poems, verses and stories.
Of folktales and myths
Erica Taraporewala quit a full time job as a software professional and now spends time as a practitioner of meditation, music and storytelling. She tells stories orally with like-minded storytellers like Chetan Shetty, Dola Dasgupta and Ajay Dasgupta, who together explore folktales, myths from around the world and modern, making these ancient repositories of wisdom available to the audience. “We came together organically to share stories that touched us personally,” said Erica. The group meet regularly in a month at a community centre in Camp.
News about the event is made known by the centre through social media platforms and also through mails sent to those who are interested. “The responses from the audience are what keep the group going. At the end of one such session, an audience member shared how as a child, her mother always told her bedtime stories and as an adult, she had lost this ritual. The storytelling had made her feel comfortable and safe, she had revealed,” narrated Erica.
And it is just not enough to have a keenness to share a passion. What is also required is a platform to give you space to be able to reach out to an audience. Set up in 2012, The Loft hosts storytellers to share stories and create an inspired community. The centre has played host to events around poetry, oral stories, stories through music performances, film screenings and book readings among others. “People of all ages, backgrounds and interests regularly come to our events, and this diversity is unique,” the centre volunteer shared. “When people from the audience realize that they too can co-create events and contribute, it becomes all the more fulfilling,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gyaan Adab at Kalyani Nagar has been breaking new ground to bring stories, traditional and new, to Pune’s audiences. They have been organizing events like cine-plays which are being received positively by both purists and those open to such forms. “We are pioneers of cross-genre events, to encourage a wider and more appreciative audience. This seems possible because we are perhaps the only cultural centre that curates, hosts and promotes a wide range of cultural and literary forms,” said Nadia SenSharma, head of event operations and marketing. They have promoted storytelling in its pure form as well as through varied activities such as book readings, workshops, theatre performances, film screenings, presented works in translation and story events with music and art exposes.
Prose and plays
Creative professional Deesh Mariwala established the Wordman Project over 16 years ago, to revive spoken word through regular public readings and performances. “Stories and verses were composed to be listened to and enjoyed, but printing technology led to words being confined to text, taking away the listening pleasure,” he said. Wordman has started a series of performed readings of prose, plays and the likes. They recently organized ‘Animals and other People’ to explore rich texts based on the weird habits of animals, and a session on the poetry in Bob Marley’s songs. “Audiences are often surprised at how once inaccessible works suddenly become very understandable when heard, instead of read,” Deesh said. He now plans to organize performances based around important literary events and birthdays.
To take story telling a step further Nandini Varma and Shantanu Anand started the Airplane Poetry Movement (APM) when they were fourth year law students. “APM helps discover and develop spoken word poets by giving opportunities for the same,” said Nandini. APM has been organizing slams and workshops to teach youngsters performance poetry and how it differs from writing it. They have now expanded to other cities, continuing to hold events regularly in Pune. “Today, a lot more people want to speak up and share their stories using the medium, and because it’s so personal, more people want to listen to you,” Nandini added. Right now, APM has an internship on for curators of the form.
For Vishal and Neha Pipraiya, starting their cafe, Pagdandi in Baner meant more than the usual food and drink. “Two strangers, who may be sitting beside each other reading in the cafe, may get talking. We’ve seen such conversations evolve where a discovery of similar interests has led to new stories and events being held here,” said Neha. The duo started a writers’ club initiative last June for closet writers to gather and exchange ideas. “Recently, a few who were interested in Urdu poetry started Shavita (shayari + kavita) at the cafe. They meet to discuss different topics,” Vishal shared. Going further, they said, “We focus on holding participatory events. Quite often, there is a new storyteller everytime, and that’s what matters.”
By Dean Lobo
Times of India, “Keeping alive the tradition of tales, prose and verse,” in Times of India, June 16, 2015. Accessed on June 16, 2015, at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/Keeping-alive-the-tradition-of-tales-prose-and-verse/articleshow/47677534.cms
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