Monday, June 12, 2017

News from Singapore

StoryFest Singapore 2 - 4 June 'Stories for Change' 2017

From Melbourne to Singapore is approximately 8 hours.  This positions Singapore neatly as a meeting point for storytellers living on opposite sides of the equator.

It was with great excitement, I had the pleasure of participating in the inaugural International StoryFest Singapore 2 - 4 June 'Stories for Change'.

As with all inaugural events, there was enormous good will and energy and a sense that we were contributing to a new and significant Festival.

The creative producer, Kamini Ramachandran is familiar to many Australian storytellers who frequent the Sydney International Storytelling Conference and the more distant, Beyond the Border Festival and Festival at the Edge (Wales).

This inaugural edition of StoryFest celebrated both the artistic practice of storytelling and applied storytelling and there was a rich mix of events to choose from.
Xanthe Greshem-Knight with 'The Shahnameh'
International guests premiered: Xanthe Gresham-Knight, Steve Killick and myself, Jackie Kerin and between us we presented three workshops, two children's shows, a collaborative set of tales and a solo show.
Steve Killick, Jackie Kerin, Kamini Ramachandran following 'Journey through Asia'
However the overseas guests were the tip of the iceberg: Playback Theatre conducted a session and some of Singapore's key storytelling organisations were showcased: Storytelling Association (Singapore), Singapore Monologue Slam, Story Slam SG and Telling Stories Live.

A highlight among highlights for me was A Tapestry of Tales, an evening celebrating emerging young storytellers who had come through the Young Storytellers Mentorship Project demonstrating the importance of giving future artists the chance to learn the art and craft of oral storytelling.

Having an international event so close to Australia is an exciting initiative bringing the best of world storytelling to our doorstep.

The flights to Singapore are surprisingly cheap, starting at $600 return. Accommodation in the city is pricey, as expected, but there are plenty of economical options outside of the CBD  and linked by train to the sites of Singapore. And of course, many of us are already used to further cutting costs by sharing rooms and transport. And tickets to the events are very reasonably priced.

I highly recommend keeping an eye on StoryFest Singapore. You will no doubt bump into colleagues and friends from your social networks and previous gatherings.

I had a splendid, if not hot and sticky time in Singapore. I was treated with great warmth and respect as a visiting storyteller at StoryFest Singapore. I thank Kamini and the team for their impeccable support and I'm thrilled to see an International event of this calibre so close to our shores. I am aiming to return as a listener in 2018 and you are welcome to join me! 
Visit the StoryFest Singapore website HERE
Follow StoryFest on Facebook HERE 

And other news...

398.2 Festival: 19 November and 25 November 2017

While in Singapore, I had the opportunity to meet  Roger Jenkins who organises the 398.2 Festival. This event takes its name from numbers in the Dewey Decimal System - 398.2 being the shelf where you will find the folk and fairy stories.
Roger Jenkins and storyteller Alice Bianchi-Clark
As the title suggests, the focus for this event is around libraries, families and children. Roger began the Festival in 2015 and its proving very popular. The heart of the celebrations is a central space with rotating storytellers delivering 15 minute family friendly sessions from 11.00am - 8.00pm. There are break out rooms which offer things like: story and craft activities, a preschool space and Other Language Storytelling (stories are told in different languages every 15 minutes).

As well as 398.2 Roger and Singaporean storyteller Sheila Wee, are working to create A Federation of Asian storytellers (FEAST). Inspired by FEST (Federation for European Story Telling). The vision is to connect storytellers across Asia via a virtual organisation. This is in contrast to FEST which seeks to connect organisations rather than individuals. Asian countries would include: Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Taiwan, China ...

Roger also runs a monthly storytelling gathering called The Story Line where folks of all experience gather to share stories and practice the craft.

Visit 398.2 Festival HERE
Facebook HERE 

So there you have it ... Storytelling friends and colleagues, you were in my thoughts and I hope you find this brief summary of my trip helpful and perhaps I have persuaded you to think about a trip to StoryFest Singapore in 2018. Keep an eye on the program for announcements as they appear.

And before signing off, I'd like to acknowledge 'Fabled Nights in Newport' as the place where I practised my stories for Singapore and the support of Vic storytellers Alex Kharnam who advised and assisted on light and portable set and props and video footage, and Durgah Devi Palanisamy for her help with pronunciation.

Jackie Kerin