Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our media correspondents visited Emirates Airline International Festival and following are a series of features written by our Print Specialisation Students - this one by Fatima Hussain -------------------------------------------------------------- Albert Einstein once said: “If you want your child to be brilliant, read them fairy tales. If you want your child to be a genius… read them more fairy tales!” The enchanted world of stories enthrals one and all and any literature festival would be hollow without tales; the flesh to the skeleton of literature. On Saturday, February 28, 2008, the British Council, as part of the Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Festival City, organised a workshop on story-telling. The enthusiastic crowd was an odd one for a story-telling workshop; no children or teenagers waited eagerly for the session, but in fact a major part of the crowd comprised of grown-up adults, who once again wanted to re-live the syrupy literature of stories. These adults, who seemed to have turned young once again, were either teachers, advertising professionals and authors. Surprisingly, a female life-guard was also present at the event, been one of the most active from amongst participants! Something very unusual especially at a time when story-telling as an art is slowly perishing from the surface of the earth. The workshop was addressed by Alec Williams, who is a story-teller, trainer, consultant, writer and speaker, based in UK. Williams, who is an enthusiast for children’s reading, has extensive knowledge of children’s books and the power of stories. “… and he cut and he sewed, and he cut and he sewed”, echoed Alec from a story, as he began the first part of the 2-hour long workshop. According to Alec, children are growing up in a visual world. Their visual literacy is often quite developed. The best story books use both text and visuals. The pictures usually complement the words. Books are very powerful medium of conveying messages, even clandestine ones. “One of the lovely things about story-telling is that it brings the audience together, such as in the case of a scary story: Oh! We are all here!” smiles Alec. Speaking on the seemingly-soon-to-be-extent art of story-telling, Alec remarks, “Story-telling today, is limited to toddlers and secondary schools. Many traditional stories can be ageless. Even many teenagers ‘secretly’ enjoy them!” “Passion, panache and emotions blur the ‘age’ mental blocks”, adds Alec. Pointing out that stories are usually not born out of the extraordinary, Alec says, “We are all story-tellers. Each one of us tells a story every day. Stories are everywhere…” When it was time to explain the story-telling techniques, Alec mentioned, “Stories help in extending concentration. Therefore gestures can also help understand when your voice isn’t strong enough. With gestures I can lengthen the story or shorten the story!” A member of the audience interjected and posed a question: How is it possible to remember the story? The reply, according to Alec, is very simple: Remember the skeleton or the main points of the story! After keeping the audience engaged in his bewildering manner of story –telling, Alec divided the crowd into groups and practiced various story-telling techniques, using story books, props, and puppets. Alec concluded with a few mind-boggling riddles and a note that the ‘e-nanny’ (Television) isn’t going to interact with you like a story-teller. Story-telling is all about a performance that you can enjoy! - Fatima Hussain