Stories are a powerful medium, and telling them is a subversive act,” says Erica Taraporevala, 57, a professional storyteller. “In a world where we are taught not to trust our own shadow, my stories are about trusting the universe; they are an invitation and pathway to lead a rich inner life, which shapes the quality of our outer life.” Taraporevala has eager listeners everywhere—schools, cultural festivals and social gatherings. And, her repertoire spans fairy tales, folklore, mythological stories from around the world. While earlier well-established schools in Pune such as Vidya Valley and Orchid, known for their radical approach to education, would invite her for storytelling, she recently had a session at Suyog Sunderji Wisdom School, a new and forward-looking school in the city.
Taraporevala’s tryst with stories started early in life. Even at the age of three, alone in her room at night, she never felt scared. “The wall against my bed was lined with a floral pattern that transformed into a host of friendly characters when the moonlight shone through the window. And I went to sleep under the care of these magical creatures,” she says, adding that stories have this comforting quality of enriching reality and introducing us to deeper colours of life.
Stories also have the power to heal, bring closure, speak to our soul and show us the way, if we allow them. Around the age of 50, when she was transitioning from a hectic life of being an environmental activist to a more inward looking one, stories led her through what could have been an unsettling time. “It is a fact,” she says, “that adults need stories as much as children and sometimes even more.” She recognised the power it held and intended to share it. “Today, there is a growing awareness about the importance of storytelling for adults as well as children,” she notes.
In fact, Taraporevala is one of the first in urban India to bring stories back into the lives of adults. “Indeed, storytelling is making a comeback to urban spaces.”
The actual act of telling, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. Like any other performing art, it involves regular hours of research, preparation, practice and keeping up-to-date with the latest studies in the field. Taraporevala is a member of the National Storytelling Network and HAS (Healing Stories Alliance), as well as international storytelling networks. She works out of Pune, where she lives with her husband and pets, and looks forward to visits from her grown children.
Photo: Rustom Taraporevala Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine January 2017
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