World Storytelling Institute (Chennai)
Dr. Eric Miller, Director
Dear Storytelling Friends,
You might find something of interest in this recent
essay: it gives an overview of what I have learned
in the course of leading Storytelling Workshops in
India over the past four years --
"Aspects of the Storytelling Revival in India",
An article concerning how storytelling can stimulate
reading and writing in children (including a quote
from yours truly) appeared in the Deccan Chronicle
the other day (8 Sept 2011, Chennai edition) --
"Reviving the Art of Reading",
For those who may be interested in the mechanics
of this process, two of my writings on this topic are:
"Storytelling and Story-listening, and Children's
Intellectual, Emotional, and Social Development",
"Using Storytelling to Facilitate Reading and Writing",
Storytelling activities -- and activities related
to other forms of Artistic expression -- certainly
help with the overall development of a child,
including the intellectual development.
There is a need to prove this, and a good way to
do so is by showing how reading and writing abilities
improve when children are exposed to, and participate
in, Storytelling activities.
If anyone reading this might have anecdotal or
other evidence that Storytelling activities help
with children's reading and writing, please do let
Arts people have been making a longstanding effort
to convince Education and Government people of the
value of the Arts in Education. Often the Arts are
brought in last, and cut first.
Nonetheless, the effort to make Storytelling (and
the other Arts) central to the Educational
These four storytelling events have put me in a
Dancer Dr. Anita Ratnam led a Storytelling session
at Oxford Bookstore Chennai, on Sat 17 Sept.
I led a "Storytelling Workshop Inspired by Tribal
Storytelling" at the "Festival of Indigenous Storytellers"
in Bangalore, on Sat 1 Oct.
An Ethnographic Videoconference between people
in Chennai and Bloomington (Indiana, USA) concerning
an episode of the Mahabharata, ocurred on Sat 15 Oct.
The Austrian Storyteller, Mr. Helmut Wittmann,
is scheduled to visit Chennai on on Wed 23 and Thurs
24 Nov. He will be leading Storytelling Workshops
and giving Performances/Talks on these two days.
Details about these events are below.
On Sat 17 Sept, Dr. Anita Ratnam led a WSI Storytelling
session at Oxford Bookstore Chennai. She told numerous
Indian Folktales, and led the children in gesture, movement
and rhythm activities.
Dr. Anita is an internationally-acclaimed Dancer
and Choreographer. She has been a TV producer;
and she founded and directs http://www.narthaki.com ,
"A Gateway to the World of Indian Dance".
In recent years, Dr Anita has collaborated with
Storyteller Diane Wolkstein: they performed the
Chinese Epic, "The Monkey King", in NYC and
I am so delighted that Dr Anita led this session, because
I feel that good healthy dance activities for children are
very valuable for them. And, of course, body language
can be such an important part of storytelling.
It was a revelation to see Dr. Anita involving the
children in so many movements -- even leading them
in little "story-parades" (enacting story characters as
they moved through the space in a line) a number of
Photos of the session are here.
A newspaper review is here.
I especially appreciate the importance of dance in
Storytelling because I was taught about this by my
mother, Lydia Joel Miller. She was a Dance scholar,
journalist, and educator. She was a champion of
using the Arts in Education. During my formative years,
she was Editor-in-Chief of Dance Magazine, the USA's
leading dance publication.
Surprisingly, my mother's obituary in the New York
Times is still online (she passed away 19 years ago,
in 1992) -- http://tinyurl.com/3n9ur69 .
Upcoming WSI Storytelling sesions at the Oxford
Bookstores in Chennai and Mumbai are:
Oxford Bookstore Chennai (044 2822 7713) --
Day and Time: Sat 29 Oct. 5:00 - 6:30pm.
Storyteller: Dr. Sandhya Ruban.
Programme: "The Wandering Leaf" and other Stories,
with drawing. The poster for the event is here.
Day and Time: Sat 12 Nov. 5:00 - 6:30pm.
Programme: Folktales from around the World, with drawing.
Oxford Bookstore Mumbai (022 6634 5242) --
Day and Time: Sun 13 Nov. 4:00 - 5:30pm.
Storyteller: Usha Venkatraman.
Programme: Folktales from around the World, with mask-making.
Day and Time: Sun 27 Nov. 4:00 - 5:30pm.
Storyteller: Sabiha More.
Programme: Stories about Cooperation, with puppet-making.
A "Storytelling Workshop Inspired by Tribal
Storytelling" was led by me at the "Festival of
http://acoustictraditional.org/index.html , in
Bangalore, on Sat 1 Oct.
My ability to lead this workshop was based in part
on my PhD research experience with Kani (Kanikaran)
Tribal people in the mountains in Kanyakumari
Additional info about this Workshop is at
I am hoping that in the future, myself and one
or more Tribal people might be able to offer
versions of this workshop in Chennai and elsewhere,
at schools, ecological meetings, etc. Please let
me know if you might be interested.
On 15 October, myself, a professional Mahabharata
storyteller, and others at the IIT-Madras, participated
in an Ethnographic Videoconference with people in
Bloomington (Indiana, USA).
Information about this event, background papers about
the Mahabharata and Ethnographic Videoconferencing,
and a recording of the videoconference can be accessed
at https://storytellinginstitute.org/36.html .
The Austrian Storyteller, Mr. Helmut Wittmann,
is scheduled to visit Chennai on November 23 and 24.
His schedule is:
Wed 23 Nov
4 - 6pm__Storytelling Workshop (Part 1).
Thurs 24 Nov
3 - 4:30pm__Storytelling Workshop (Part 2).
5 - 7pm__Storytelling Performance and Talk.
Mr. Franz Bernegger will be accompanying the storytelling
with his Austrian form of bagpipe, the Bockpfeife.
All events would occur at the Goethe Institute (near the
intersection of Rutland Gate 5th St, and Khader Nawaz
Khan Road, in Nungambakkam).
Admission to all four of these events is free. One could
attend any one or more of these events. Please call
98403 94282 for directions and additional info.
Mr. Helmut Wittmann of Austria has been a
professional storyteller for over 20 years. He
has performed at countless Storytelling festivals
in Europe and beyond. He specialises in telling
Austrian fairy-tales from the Alps, from
Transylvania and Bohemia, and from other regions
of the old Austrian-Hungarian Empire.
Mr. Helmut's website is
http://www.maerchenerzaehler.at (click "English").
The evening events will include Mr. Helmut speaking
on "European Fairy Tales -- Their History, Meaning,
and Ways in Which They Serve as Sources of Moral
Inspiration for Our Lives".
Mr. Helmut's mission on this visit is to present
the Austrian tradition of storytelling, and also
to exchange experiences with storytellers in India
regarding stories, traditions, and methods of
performance. We will be discussing ways in
which European fairy tales might be similar to
and different from Indian fairy tales.
The richness of the above-described events is
stunning -- Dance and Storytelling, Tribal
Storytelling, Mahabharata Storytelling in a
Videoconference, and Austrian Storytelling.
Hoping to see you at the Austrain Storytelling
events on Wed 23 and Thurs 24 Nov!
Dr. Eric Miller
Director, World Storytelling Institute
0 98403 94282