“World without stage fear!” echoed the audience as the International Storytelling Festival began at the Apollo Foundation Theatre on Saturday evening. The event, organised by Tale Tellers Troupe, saw hundreds of people in attendance.
The first story narrated was that of Santosh Mohan Veeranki, who is the founder of TTT and the organiser of the festival. And the story was inspiring — Santosh, an aeronautical engineer whose passion is filmmaking, remembered the day he had thought his dream had come true. Director Ram Gopal Verma had called him to narrate his story idea. But, to Santosh’s horror, he froze because of acute stage fright and blew his chance. That’s when he decided to start a platform to encourage people to tell stories and overcome their stage fear. At the event, hundreds of people in the audience gave him a resounding ovation for his efforts.
“I love the energy. We were initially skeptical about the turnout, but I am so glad that people chose to be here even on a Saturday night! I was surprised to see both youngsters and families. We had been planning the festival for over nine months and close to 60 people performed. The execution of the project began around 35 days ago. Next year, this is going to be bigger — it will be a three-day festival. We have been reaching out to storytellers and some have approached us through Facebook.”
The festival that went on till midnight, had people from 13 other countries participating. Musa Nxumallo, a South African, said, “It’s my second time here in India and I’m excited. India feels like home as there are a lot of Indians in Africa. In fact, Africans love Indian hair! Do you know it’s one of the biggest businesses there?”
Musa added, “I had to decide whether to attend the burial of Winne Mandela back home or be here. I chose this because here I get to meet so many new people and connect.”
We had been planning the festival for over nine months and close to 60 people performed
— Santosh Mohan Veeranki, organiser
Other performers were Michelle D’Cruz from Singapore, who has an international Acapella group, Lara Bach from Brazil and Kayla Cohen from the UK.
Meanwhile, Sowmya Srinivasan, Rajsekhar Mamidana, Asif Khan and Hriday Ranjan were some of the Indian performers. Deepak’s (from Nishumbita) performance from William Shakespeare’s play King Lear was one of the highlights. While these artistes performed on the main stage, there were several events such as Hindi poetry by K Se Kavita, tangy sessions and chekka bommalata held simultaneously at the Telangana stage.
Akshay Tiwari, who came all the way from Bengaluru to be part of the event, said, “It’s a good platform to overcome stage fright. I’m here to support Santosh and this cause. I was so excited to hear everyone’s stories.”
With people from countries such as Israel, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Canada and United States coming together to encourage storytelling, it was an eventful evening indeed.