Interview: Kamini Ramachandran

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As VDay nears, you’re confrontaed by the word “LOVE” that pops up on every streetcorner. What’s Love got to do with it? Everything! Moonshadow Stories duo Kamini and Verena shares tales of love at The Substation.

In Disney’s Bedtime Stories featuring Adam Sandler, tales are brought to life with a dash of imagination from the children. However beyond the bedtime stories that parents share occasionally with their kids, is storytelling a dying art? Kamini Ramachandran shares with ArtZine about the chosen love stories and how she prepares for each storytelling session.

AZ: What inspired you to go into storytelling?

K: My grandparents were ‘natural’ storytellers; coming from a heritage of stories, it was a ‘natural progression’ for me, especially once I became a mother.

AZ: How do you pick your stories?

K: I have always felt that ‘the story chooses you’ and not the other way around! Once I have settled on a theme, I think about the various stories I already know, I flip through books on folklore and fairytales, and something will jump out and take hold of me, saying ‘tell me, tell me!’ and that’s simply how most of my stories to date have been selected!

AZ: What defines a good story for you?

K: A good story for me must be able to ‘touch’ in some manner; I also like visual stories that lead the listener on a journey. Elements of magic and suspension of disbelief is also what lures me to certain stories.

AZ: What is your preparation like for each session?

K:

  1. Thinking of theme is the probably the hardest part.
  2. Once that’s over, then I brood on what stories to tell to suit that theme. Lots of reading late in to the night and flipping through my hundreds of books on myths, legends, fables, folktales also inspires me.
  3. Internalizing the stories is a big part, and that takes time.
  4. Making the stories my own and getting them under-my-skin, so to speak. I tell myself the stories, when I’m in the shower, in a taxi, or just whenever I am alone.

Tips from the expert!

“If you do not already have an oral narrative heritage of stories that you know, then the first step is to read! To be a storyteller, you must have stories to tell! Don’t be afraid to tell; tell to your spouse, children, friends, but you must start to tell. Join a group of fellow like-minded people who have a passion for storytelling; this is where you can try telling in a safe-space and get valuable feedback, and you can also listen to other storytellers wielding their craft. Join the Storytelling Association (Singapore).”

K: After a session, I just want my listeners to be exposed to an art from that uses no props, no visual aids and no technical assistance to be able to allow their imaginations to travel freely as I tell my stories. It’s very important today that people are able to create images and visual landscapes in their minds, without it being flashed in front of them on a screen. It would also be nice if the listeners were touched by some element in my stories, which made them reflect on life in some manner.
AZ: Our Feb edition is also about Love… so:
What are some of the stories you’ve picked for this one?

-Old legend from India about ‘Gwashbrari, the Glacier-Hearted Queen of the Mountains’ and how mighty Westarwan falls head over heels for her beauty, charm and grace.

-‘The Moon Cuckoo’ is a Tibetan tale involving dark magic and transformation arts. Can true love survive supernatural tests?

-Folktale from Bolivia about how ‘The Condor Seeks A Wife’. When the mighty Condor falls in love with a mortal girl, he takes what he likes, regardless of how she feels. When a woman is loved in a way she is not accustomed to, what happens to her? She changes, but are these changes purely emotional or can they be physical too?
What is your favourite:
Love story/movie/play

The Amazonian legend of ‘Naiia and the Moon.’ Naiia is so in love with the Moon, and only Moon. She vows to marry the Moon, and only the Moon. But this is a love that can never be, and in the end it results in the creation of the giant Amazonian water-lily whose leaves are as wide as a maiden is tall, and whose petals resemble the slender, white fingers of a woman reaching out to touch the Moon in the sky.
Love song:

Collin Raye’s ‘Love Me’

Moonshadow Stories presents:
What’s Love got to do with it?
Featured tellers: Verena Tay and Kamini Ramachandran
13 & 14 February, 8pm
The Substation Classroom 2
Admission: $12. Limited seating. Please contact Kamini
to reserve a place.

Kamini: The stories are not conventional love stories; they take a twist on the theme of love, or what love is perceived as by modern society. They are mainly stories from different cultures with an element of love somewhere within them. Come for the storytelling, come to listen to something different and allow yourself to journey into that time long ago, and listen to things so impossible and yet, compelling.

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