We’d attended a storytelling course and our teacher Cathy Spagnoli left to return home. We were so inspired to continue but where do we start, what do we do? We needed to learn and practise our stories. Not wanting to lose momentum, Sheila and I decided to start a story circle where we could meet and share our stories in a warm, supportive environment, starting at my apartment. We invited all the participants from that course. That first meeting was most memorable, just 4 of us around my dining table. The other two who came (Irene Wang and Rosalind Tan) confessed they were there for my masala tea!!!!
We didn’t give up and held another meeting and soon our monthly meetings became quite popular (it helps to feed people with food we lovingly prepared!)
In late 1999 our storytellers’ circle became a Special Interest Group of the Society for Reading and Literacy, of which Sheila was an executive committee member, a relationship that was felt would benefit all concerned. That circle grew and in time its members formed the core of the Storytelling Association, Singapore that was founded in 2006 (more of that later).
Sheila and I started telling stories anywhere we could, often on a volunteer basis. Before long people were starting to call us professionals before we thought ourselves to be so! We both stuck to our other freelance work to help pay the bills- Sheila as a speech and drama teacher and myself training early childhood teachers in language and literacy and as a bookseller selling quality children’s literature (showroom in my apartment). Cathy had also introduced me to Tulika Books, a publisher of children’s books in Chennai, India, and a relationship was formed, one that continues to this day in Australia. From selling children’s picture books to stocking storytelling resources was a natural step and all the storytellers in Singapore in the early 2000’s have all been wonderful customers and remain great friends to this day.
A pivotal moment in our storytelling journey was when Mr Ramachandran of the Book Council called Sheila and I in for a meeting in 2001 after we’d continued organising yearly storytelling courses for them with Cathy. He told us that we had to start an organisation and even suggested the name: Storytelling Academy. We weren’t too sure about an academy but we finally came up with a name, Asian Storytelling Network which was incorporated in December 2001.
The professional journey begins………