Posts from the ‘India 2008’ Category

Nov 6: We’re In Kanchipuram

Our fifth day in India we moved on to a smaller city, Kanchipuram where we would be taking our storytelling exploration into the realm of more dramatic styles of storytelling: Kattaikkuttu.  This terminology created through the work of performer Rajagopal and Hannah deBruin is derived from a street theater storytelling called Therookuttu, traditionally used to dramatize excerpts from such epics as the Ramayana and Mahabharat.

The Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam, or Kattaikkuttu Youth Theatre School, provides a group of thirty rural, underprivileged children the possibility to combine traditional, in-depth training in the Kattaikkuttu theatre with basic education. The school encourages its students to explore their own artistic and intellectual abilities and to turn them into professional skills. This is the first time that girls participate in professional Kattaikkuttu training. The Kattaikuttu Gurukulam or “Youth Theatre School” was started in 2002 by Rajagopal, trained Kattaikuttu performer himself, and his wife — Dutch Indologist, Hannah Bruin — believing that children born into the koothu tradition must be encouraged to stay on, with the promise of being able to make a living. The Sangam found many children of performers wrenched out of their households and trade by poverty, forced into child labour, and decided to bring them back into the fold and throw in formal education also.

The boarding school offers rural, underprivileged children in-depth training in Kattaikuttu, introduction to other theatre forms (martial arts, puppetry, story writing, contemporary dance), in addition to instruction in regular subjects as prescribed by the State Government. However, it allows for extrapolations and even encourages the students to be critical, creative and think out of the box.

The American storytellers were able to spend a day-and-a-half with the master artists and students as they not only shared their artistry, but hospitality with their wonderful lunch, engaging “hands on” workshops, and allowing us to share our storytelling with their youth.

Filed as: India 2008, Tours  

Nov 5: Bharatanatyam: Dancing Stories

STORYTELLING WITH BHARATANATYAM On our fourth day in India we took a workshop in the storytelling dance theater style of Bharatanatyam with Master Teacher Uma Ramesh.  Southern classical dance is well known for the full body approach to storytelling, from the shape of body posturing, the intricate hand mudras gestures, to the use of facial gestures expressed as “The Nine Emotions“, this form for centuries has depicted the stories of Hindu culture.

DANCING WITH STORYTELLING Above you can see our storytellers (Alton Chung, Nancy Wang, Simona Miller, Geri Isara and Jeff Byers) exploring this artform. It was so great to see our storytellers taking on the instructions and expanding their storytelling with new PHYSICAL approaches to their performances.  they are working on a famous tale found in India (as a Panchantantra story) and the world over, “The Talkative Turtle”.

Filed as: India 2008, Tours  

Nov 4: Local Fishing Neighborhoods & Temples

WOMEN OF THE FISHING VILLAGES: While in Chennai we visited local coastal neighborhoods (or villages): Nochhikuppam and Ayodhakuppam.   These communities, like many along the Eastern seaboard were hard hit by the Tsunami several years ago where tens of thousands lost their lives. They’ve rebuilt again and though the government is hard pressed to relocate these communities, this life of fishing is all they know and to remove them from this environment would equally devastate their culture and livelihood.  This community is where one of the presenting Oppari Women groups resides.


GETTING FRESH (FRUIT)! A little shopping for fresh fruit. Yummy tangerines!  Very sweet.  Shown here (left to right) are: local tamil teller and host Jeeva Raghunath, and storytelling adventurers: Sheila Wilgus, Liz Nichols, Nancy Wang, Lynn Ruehlman.

IN THE PRESENCE OF GODS & GODDESSES: The temples were ornately decorated with a myriad of the Hindu Pantheon.  This journey to India has been an introduction to the immensity of Indian mythology, made even more complex by the multiple names the deities can have.  At this temple, each god and goddess depicted were hand painted in a colorful array which needs to repainted every several years.  Esther, one of our Tamil interpreters puts on traditional ash upon the forehead of our visiting storytellers.

Filed as: India 2008, Tours  

Home from India Salon, December 13

December 13 Salon Invitation

Save the Date!

Saturday, December 13, 2008
6pm Indian Dinner, 7pm Show

Salon? You’re On!

Tharisanam: Vision of the Other
Celebrate the American storytelling delegation’s return from Chennai, India. The folk stories & myths of India will be told by local SF Bay area storytellers Liz Nichols, Tim Erenata, Jeff Byers, and Eth-Noh-Tec. Listen to the stories from this incredible journey.

Taste the Flavors!
Join us for dinner: a delightful and delicious spread of Indian cuisine! All-you-can-eat meal: 6pm.

The Fashion
Designer Shilpa Srinivasan will exhibit her embelished line of printed tees: fun, unique, and inspired by Indian folk art.

The Fotos and Faces of India
A multi-media presentation of “Therisanam,” bringing together American and Indian artists in an amazing cultural exchange.

About the Storytelling and Cultural Delegration
This Fall, Eth-Noh-Tec lead a group of 15 storytellers from around the country in a cultural exchange to meet their storytelling counterparts in India. Hosted by the World Story Institute, they met master artists, puppeteers, musicians, dancers, theater troupes and other artists that use storytelling in their art form. Together, they shared their stories in local communities and built bridges of cultural understanding between the peoples of America and India.

Eth-Noh-Tec Studio
977 South Van Ness
San Francisco, CA 94110
between 2st & 20th Streets
close to 24th Street BART

Saturday, December 13
6pm Dinner, 7pm Show

Admission, Dinner & Show:
$25-$10 (sliding scale)

Reserve by 12/10!
(415) 282-8705

Buy Your Tickets!
12/13 Salon Tickets

Filed as: India 2008, Performances, Programs, Salon! You're On!  

Nov 2, 3, 4: Getting in the India Groove


We have adjusted to the jetlag, the heat and fast clip of the first initial days of the trip. Indian food for breakfast and lunch then… you guessed it: Delicious Indian food for dinner!  We had better start getting used to spices as there are plenty here. A great way to start the day... LAUGHING! SUNRISE LAUGHTER!: This morning many of us got up very early to catch the Laughing Yoga Club. These were amazing group exercises done in a circle of people. Part of a modern yoga developed by an India doctor who discovered the health beefits of laughing.  5 Laughing Yoga clubs in the Chennai area are part of over 3000 clubs in India, 14,000 internationally. This morning there were about 20 people ( 8 were from our group. What does it have to do with storytelling?: Making Peace in the world, one of their clear tenets.  We too believe that by understanding our human stories and cultures we bring all people to a peaceful humanity.  How appropriate that the Club meets not far from a statue of Gandhi! Click on this link to hear this unique style of yoga) laughing-yoga

Singers (shown on left) garbed in Sari's

OPPARI SINGERS: We also experienced a presentation in Oppari lamenting songstory.  These lamenting balladeers (hired for funerary services) blend a performance singing and chant-like vocalization, honoring and lamenting over the loss of the deceased.  Through their grieving songs they tell the story of someone’s lost loved ones, often recounting their lives at sea and importance to their family.  We heard from two different ensembles, one from the local fishing community and a second( shown above) from farther south in the region.  The group shown are from a transgender community, a well organized society in India who honor the transexual/ transmorphic nature of certain gods in the Hindu pantheon.  There singing was so engaging and emotional that it moved many of our storytellers to re-experience grieving and loss from their own lives. An interesting day: starting the sunrise with laughter and ending the daylight with lamenting.  More postings later now that I know how to blog. However the challenge will be to find the time!

Filed as: India 2008, Tours