Professional storyteller Shreya Biswas is founder of the Bangalore-based Katharangam (estb.2013) which offers specially curated storytelling workshops to school teachers, NGO professionals, corporates and students to enhance their teaching, business and communication skills. Also a patron of the Bangalore Storytelling Society (estb.2013) and advisor of Chennai’s annual International Storytelling Festival, Biswas has thus far taught storytelling techniques to 10,000 students and 1,000 teachers. About 2,000 corporate employees across the country have also benefited from Biswas’ customised workshops.
Newspeg. In June, Biswas conducted a unique three-day teacher training workshop for the Sunbeam School, Varuna, Varanasi — ranked among the Top 3 day-cum-boarding schools in EW India School Rankings 2019-20. In the workshop, pre-primary, primary and middle school teachers were taught the nuances of storytelling to make social science, maths and science more interesting subjects for children.
Among prominent schools that have signed up for Biswas’ workshops are Delhi Public School South, New Horizon VidyaMandir, Brigade Group of schools, Little Ellie (Bangalore) as also Asian Paints, Metro Cash n Carry, Renault Nissan, Infosys and Mercedes Benz among corporates.
History. A chemistry graduate of Calcutta University, Biswas’ interest in eclectic reading developed at an early age in her ancestral home and neighbourhood libraries in Kolkata. Raised in a joint family, much of her childhood was spent listening to her grandparents recount stories from the Mahabharata and Ramayana and Bengali classical literature. In the mid-1990s after she moved to Bangalore, she signed up with a playschool and taught pupils by storytelling. In 2009, she attended a British Council event featuring well-known professional storyteller Richard Martin who drew from Irish and English folklore to narrate captivating stories to eager children and adults. “That’s when I became aware that storytelling was my preferred vocation,” recalls Biswas.
With professional storytelling courses a rarity those days, in 2011 she interned with Bangalore’s well-known storyteller Geeta Ramanujam and later attended workshops conducted by British and American professionals. In 2012, Biswas began her career as an independent storyteller at Sneha Nilaya, an orphanage, and the Spastics Society, Bangalore where she volunteered her services. Driven by the need to spread awareness of this pedagogy, Biswas promoted Katharangam (‘stories space’) in 2013.
Direct talk. “I believe my craft is in performing a story by using props, music and sometimes even choreography. I want to bring smiles back into regimented classrooms and improve communication in corporate offices,” says Biswas.
Future plans. Biswas is bullish about the future. “Teaching basic English through storytelling to government school children is next on my agenda. I also intend to design awareness programmes on cyber-security for adults and help teachers and parents to identify children’s learning disabilities,” says Biswas.
Way to go, Sister!
Paromita Sengupta (Bangalore)