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Spinning yarn the traditional way
IF Kamini Ramachandran had her way, people would switch off the TV and gather to tell stories in the fashion of old village tribes to foster a community spirit.
Ms Ramachandran, a professional storyteller since 2004, is committed to promoting the lost art of oral narration. She focuses on teaching adults storytelling skills so that they can pass on the tradition to their children.
The 46-year-old artist runs MoonShadow Stories, a storytelling organisation, and is also the vice-president and founding member of the Storytelling Association Singapore. She conducts storytelling workshops giving practical tips on using one's own voice, body and breath to engage an audience.
Raised in Malaysia, Ms Ramachandran has fond childhood memories of bonding with her maternal grandfather who would regale her with personal tales about him leaving India for Malaya and the Japanese Occupation, or traditional stories of the Mahabharata and Ramayana.
She says: "What makes you you? How do you explain why you pray to a god with an elephant head? I believe these stories relating to your culture and upbringing help build confidence and anchor a person with a sense of belonging."
Ms Ramachandran's courses are frequently sold out. She has performed in front of hundreds of people at various venues including the Esplanade, and is in her fourth year of conducting a storytelling workshop to 15 students at Lasalle College of the Arts.
Her love of language led her to an undergraduate degree in English Language & Literature at the University of Reading in the UK, where she met her husband. Having brought up her two sons here in Singapore, she was dismayed by the unpopularity of traditional Eastern literature.
She explains, "I realised that children here do not have easy access to local fables and folklore, and there's a focus on Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales.
"I felt a responsibility to revive and breathe life into the stories I inherited from my grandfather." She believes there is a natural place for storytelling within society, and that it can co-exist peacefully with modern entertainment. "I like TV and movies but... the visuals are thrown at you. In contrast, a storyteller is just a vehicle that transports the story to a listener. You get to interpret it as you like."
- Ms Kamini Ramachandran is holding Secrets of a Storyteller workshop at the Esplanade Rehearsal Studio on Sun, May 17 at 2pm. Tickets are priced at S$15, and are available from Sistic