CHENNAI: Tim Ralphs is a storyteller who was acclaimed at The Young Storyteller of the Year competition in the United Kingdom in 2007. He has won the British Award for Storytelling Excellence in 2012. City Express caught up with him when he was visiting Chennai to conduct a storytelling workshop in British Council. Excerpts from the interview…
How important is the storyteller?
The story is more important than the story teller. A storyteller is acting as a channel for a story. So to choose a story I do a lot of research. Anyone can make a story entertaining. But if you pay for the performance, you want to ensure the person has some skill and craft.
How do you develop storytelling skills?
I do a lot of work on imagination, language, facial expression and gesture. Storytelling is a sort of new art. And there are those who are attempting to revive it. So the techniques that I learn are from other people performing other art forms. For example, I learn a lot from watching mime artists and clowns from who I get to learn a lot about body language and gestures. I find it difficult to narrate a story without an audience. So without a listener, practising storytelling is difficult.
How does storytelling compare with visual ways of telling story?
TV is going through an interesting phase. Now stories take place over whole seasons. But I think it makes people take things literally. They look at a screen and they imagine what they see on the screen. With reading or hearing stories there is more space for the audience to think in different and abstract ways.
Power of storytelling…
I do a lot of work with academics on public engagement. Now companies are looking to establish a brand narrative. They are telling a story about their company to engage their customers. So storytelling is a powerful medium and it can be used to influence people.
Any advice to storytellers?
Before attempting to tell a story it is important to find a story that you like and want to narrate. The characters need to resonate with you. And you should understand why the character behaves the way he does. For example in the Mahabharatha, Duryodhana has 99 other brothers. Bheema kicks him out of the tree. He is not as awesome as the Pandavas. He’s younger, smaller and not as strong. But he wants to be king. So his character is fascinating and he makes the story more interesting.