Image by image,Nell Phoenix takes you through the woods,by the river,on a bridge made by a strand of hair and finally,to the castle to meet the wicked giant. Along the way,you meet an owl,a prowling cat,hear the wind and see the moon shining bright. Phoenix,from the UK,uses her body and voice to tell stories that engross people of all ages,a skill she displayed well at a storytelling session held at the British Council this week.
Phoenix has graduated in acting and directing from Goldsmiths College,the UK,and has performed in theatres across the world as actor. Its this experience that she incorporates in her storytelling. Her work as a storyteller includes hundreds of performances for children as well as adults in schools,art centres,libraries and festivals. Phoenixs repertoire is made of stuff from classic texts,plays,physical theatre,mask work and puppetry. Storytelling is a traditional yet contemporary performance art,which needs to be practised and encouraged. Stories are for everyone, she says.
Phoenix describes storytelling as a direct communication with the audience,where both craft and instinct are essential. The idea,she adds,is to create an intimate experience,inspiring wonder,laughter,excitement and sometimes horror. A story can create great possibility and potential for great outcomes, says Phoenix,who is also the artistic director of Story Night,one of Londons thriving performance storytelling clubs.
The art,adds Phoenix,needs to be expanded in a country like India,which has a great tradition of oral storytelling and is replete with great,original stories. Small efforts to get people together on a common platform and engage in telling stories from varied cultures and mythologies is a great way to build thriving storytelling clubs in India, she says.