Article by Dr Eric Miller,

Director, Chennai Storytelling Festival.

Posted 1st Nov 2018.



Chennai Storytelling Festival 2019

(Friday 1st - Sunday 10th Feb 2019),

"Both Real and Virtual"


Featuring Collaborative Workshops

and Participation via Videoconference



Chennai Storytelling Festival 2019 (CSF 2019)

would be the 7th edition of the Chennai Storytelling Festival.


Four Themes of CSF 2019 are:


1) "Both Real and Virtual".


2) "Storytelling for Creativity and Fun, Teaching, Training, and Healing".


3) "Stories about Strong and Clever Girls and Women.  And about Diversity and Inclusion in general".


4) "Ways the Dravidian Movement Uses Stories".




Featured CSF 2019 Story Performers, Trainers, and Scholars are:


From Edinburgh, Scotland -- Ms Marion Kenny.

Ms Marion is one of Scotland’s leading storytellers, a highly regarded multi-instrumentalist, and an inspirational trainer.  Her repertoire includes epic sagas from Ireland and Scotland, folktales (including wonder tales and trickster tales), creation myths, stories of the natural world, and historical stories. 


From California, USA -- Prof Ruth Stotter.

Prof Ruth has been awarded a Fulbright grant to conduct Workshops on "Incorporating Storytelling in Interdisciplinary Education" for teacher-trainees in numerous education colleges in Chennai, and also to be with us during CSF 2019.  For 15 years, Prof Ruth chaired a Storytelling Program at a college in California.


From Toronto, Canada -- Ms Diana Tso (of Chinese ancestry) and Ms Rubena Sinha (of Indian ancestry).  They often perform together.




Ms Marion and Prof Ruth would be mentoring storytellers as performers and instructors during the ten days of CSF 2019.




CSF 2019 would celebrate "Ways the Dravidian Movement Uses Stories."  The Dravidian Movement is a social / political / human rights / cultural movement that has used story -- in oratory, print, cinema, and other media -- like no other movement in the other states of India, or in the rest of the world. 


The Dravidian Movement champions the people and cultures of certain often-discriminated-against castes.  The Dravidian Movement is a classic movement of the excluded and the oppressed -- the subaltern (although it has never fully represented certain oppressed groups, such as tribal peoples).


Leaders of the Dravidian Movement such as Mr Annadurai and Mr Karunanidhi wrote -- especially from the 1940s to the 1970s -- scripts of commercial movies that promoted the Movement.  Ms Jayalalithaa also wrote short stories and novels that addressed social issues.


On the morning of Sunday 3 Feb, at 7:30am, Festival participants would be invited to meet at the Kannagi statue on Chennai's Marina Beach.  There would be brief dramatic first-person enactments -- in Tamil, and in English -- of six statues along the Beach: Kannagi, NSC Bose, Thiruvalluvar, George Pope, Bharathidasan, and Avvaiyar.


These statues were put in place in 1968 by leaders of the Dravidian Movement.  Some of these characters -- especially Kannagi and Avvaiyar -- are examples of legendary characters used by the Dravidian Movement to define itself and its vision of Tamil culture.


Written (English) versions of the speeches of the six characters are here.


An article by Festival Director Dr Eric about the character, Kannagi is here.




Regarding the Festivals' six major workshops for members of the public (at Loyola College):


We are trying an experiment in collaboration in this edition of the Chennai Storytelling Festival

These Workshops would be planned and conducted by teams of trainers. 


Ways the collaborations might occur include: 

An individual trainer might lead the group (perhaps 120 people) for 20 minutes at a time. 

And/or, the group might do an activity suggested by one trainer for 30 minutes -- and this activity might be facilitated by numerous trainers who might work with the participants in small groups. 


These Workshops are (all times are "India time"):




Thurs 7 Feb, for COLLEGE STUDENTS --


1) 10am-12:30pm, 
"Basic Storytelling: for Fun, Self-expression, and Creativity."

2) 1:30pm-4pm, 
"Storytelling for a Job Interview, a Project Report, and to Win Someone's Heart."



Fri 8 Feb, for ADULTS (Day 1) --


3) 10:30pm-12:30pm, 
"Basic Storytelling: for Fun, Self-expression, and Creativity."

4) 1:30pm-4pm, 
"Storytelling for Teaching-and-learning the English Language."



Sat 9 Feb, for ADULTS (Day 2) --


5) 10am-12:30pm, 
"Storytelling for Teaching-and-learning any Academic Subject."

6) 1:30pm-4pm, 
"Storytelling for Coaching and Counselling."




We are working to make it possible for people to attend some of these workshops via videoconference, and/or to observe them via webcast (webinar).


Some of the trainers might also be giving training in sections of these workshops via videoconference.




There would be Storytelling Performances (in English, up to 12 minutes each) for people of all ages, by a total of 28 Storytellers! 


Seven Storytellers each evening, on four successive evenings, 4:30pm-6:30pm. 


Thurs 7th, Fri 8th, and Sat 9th Feb -- at Loyola College. 


Sun 10th Feb -- at the Indian Institute of Psychodrama (just off Cathedral Road, between the Chola Hotel and Stella Maris College).




There would be Storytelling Performances (in Tamil, up to 12 minutes each) for people of all ages, by 7 Storytellers, 4:30pm-6:30pm, on Sunday 3rd Feb.  Location: Sudha's Garden, No.1 Tarapore Ave, off Harrington Road, Chetpet.




There would be a Storytelling Performance by Marion Kenny.  Timing: 4:30pm-6:30pm.  (The date and location are not yet finalised.)


There would be a Storytelling Performance by Diana Tso and Rubena Sinha.  Timing: 4:30pm-6:30pm.  (The date and location are not yet finalised.)


There would be a Storytelling Workshop for Professional Storytellers, by Marion Kenny.  Timing: 10am-12noon.  Location: Indian Institute of Psychodrama (just off Cathedral Road, between the Chola Hotel and Stella Maris College).  (The date is not yet finalised.)




Sun 10th Feb, 11am-4pm, would be "Video Recording Day" (not open to members of the public).


This would occur at a video studio, probably in KK Nagar.  A Storyteller could book a ten-minute (or longer) time-slot and record a performance.  A wireless collar mic and professional video camera would be used.  The only audience members would be other Storytellers.  The recordings could be placed on a pen drive and/or Youtube.  Payment (approx 800 rupees for a ten-minute recording) would go directly to the video studio.




For additional information about CSF 209,

please see the Festival webpage,

email to ,

and/or call 98403 94282.


Chennai Storytelling Festival 2019 is being presented by the World Storytelling Institute (an NGO registered in Chennai) in collaboration the Chennai Storytellers group, Loyola College (Chennai), and numerous other organisations and individuals.







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