Festival Artistic Director / Storyteller
Kamini Ramachandran (Singapore)
Kamini Ramachandran co-founded MoonShadow Stories in Singapore with the aim of reviving the oral narrative tradition focusing on adult audiences because she believes that once the beauty and wonder of the spoken word is reintroduced to adults, then children will benefit. Hence, MoonShadow Stories were the first contemporary storytellers in Singapore to spearhead storytelling for adults.Storytelling has always been vital for Kamini, from her earliest memories of her grandparents telling her stories to her efforts in continuing this storytelling tradition with her two young sons. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of stories and the storytelling craft, she has provided customized storytelling consultancy services for museums, educational institutions and organizations.Kamini has been commissioned to research and create storytelling content for various literary and storytelling festivals, animation projects, folklore publications as well as curated museum exhibitions. A founder member of the Storytelling Association (Singapore), she has served four terms as its President. As a storyteller, she has gained an international presence with invitations to Bangalore, Shillong, Edinburgh, Rome and Sydney.In her many years of public storytelling to both adult and child audiences, she has observed the power of stories to touch hearts and to heal; her collaboration with a clinical psychiatrist in her recent work is a facet of her storytelling passion dedicated to exploring the role of stories and storytelling in counselling and healing. She will also be embarking on a pilot project to empower dementia-caregivers with storytelling skills. Her focus on reviving the oral tradition takes her this year on an exploratory journey to Malaysian indigenous tribes to share folktales and mythology, storyteller to storyteller.Her passion for storytelling continues with her work in mentoring and nurturing individuals on their storytelling journey for she believes in building a community of storytellers. Kamini also facilitates ‘The Storytelling Intensive’ course for Performance students at college level.
Websites: www.moonshadowstories.com | Facebook
Sheila Wee (Singapore)
Sheila has been a professional storyteller since 1999 and has been described as a Godmother of Singapore storytelling. She co-founded Singapore’s first storytelling circle and its first professional storytelling company. She is currently the President of the Storytelling Association (Singapore).Sheila’s work in Singapore includes performances for museums, schools, conference openings and community events and storytelling skills courses and workshops for adults, teens and children. She also conducts workshops that cover a wide range of storytelling applications, including storytelling for intergenerational bonding, language and literacy development, special needs education, character education, and leadership in organisations. In her international work, Sheila has conducted workshops for the Society for Storytelling (UK), The Malaysian International Storytelling Festival and the Hong Kong Bureau of Education. She has performed at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, the Australian National Storytelling Confest, the Malaysia International Storytelling Festival, the Skye and Lochalsh Storytelling Festival and at various schools and community venues throughout the UK.
Verena Tay (Singapore)
For more than 25 years, Verena Tay has acted, directed and written for local English-language theatre in Singapore, working for companies such as The Necessary Stage, ACTION Theatre, TheatreWorks and Practice Theatre. She created various solo and collaborative performances, often based on original, self-written material while she was as an Associate Artist with The Substation (2002–09). Three collections of her plays have been published: In the Company of Women: Selected Plays (2004), In the Company of Heroes (2011) and Victimology (2011). An Honorary Fellow at the renowned International Writing Program, University of Iowa (Aug-Nov 2007), she is now working on her first volume of short stories and debut novel as well as embarking on a part-time MFA in Creative Writing with the City University of Hong Kong (2012–14).Apart from theatre, Verena brings stories vocally and physically alive in her unique fashion. As part of MoonShadow Stories since November 2004, Verena has been telling stories at various community venues across Singapore and overseas, much to the delight and enjoyment of adults and children. A Professional Member and founding member of the Storytelling Association (Singapore), Verena has successfully coached members of the SAS and members of the public to improve their craft of telling stories through various courses, particularly her intermediate level workshop, Beyond Storytelling 101, that she has been conducting on a regular basis since 2008.Outside of theatre and storytelling, Verena has worked in public affairs, marketed books, and edited newsletters and books on teaching and learning issues in higher education. Her interest in performance led her to pursue an MA in Voice Studies (2005) at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London during 2003-04, thereby augmenting her MA in English Literature (1993) from the National University of Singapore. Since 2005, she has taught voice, speech and presentation skills at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, LaSalle College of the Arts, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and other local institutions.
Websites: www.verenatay.com | www.moonshadowstories.com | Facebook
Kiran Shah (Singapore/Australia)
Kiran Shah discovered storytelling as a profession 14 years ago and realised just how right it was for her. Her background in social work, early childhood education (with work experiences in the U.S., Japan and Sri Lanka for up to 2 years in each country, with shorter stints in Myanmar, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia) and as a bookseller all were perfect foundations for her journey into storytelling. She rediscovered her Indian heritage through folktales and being born and raised in Singapore, is especially interested in bringing Asian folktales to a wider audience. She co-founded the Asian Storytelling Network in 2001, Singapore’s first professional storytelling company and has been performing and training to a wide audience in a variety of venues, from schools to parks to museums. Kiran tells to a wide audience from toddlers to adults, including the military in Singapore and oil executives in Malaysia. She has helped to plan and coordinate storytelling congresses in Singapore from 2002-2006, helping to bring in renowned tellers from around the world. Kiran has been called one of the Godmothers of Storytelling in Singapore and was the founder president of the Storytelling Association, Singapore in 2006, Singapore’s first association of professional storytellers. She has performed at festivals locally and internationally (Australia 2003 and 2005, Jakarta 2005, Skye 2006, Penang 2011) and also conducted workshops on storytelling. Kiran moved to Australia in 2008 where she continues to share her love for Asian tales at parks, art galleries and schools. She is an accredited member of the Australian Storytelling Guild NSW and has also participated in the Darwin Festival in 2010, the Sydney Children’s Festival in 2011 and the Illawarra Folk Festival in 2012.
Jessie Goh (Singapore)
After forty years as a School Teacher and an Educational Counsellor, Jessie decided to indulge her creative side. She was awarded Gold Medal (Honours) by The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art for the Speaking of Verse and Prose in 2002. Jessie was irresistibly drawn towards storytelling after attending a Storytellers’ Course organised by NBDCS in 2003. She is a founding member of the Storytelling Association (Singapore).Jessie has a repertoire for both adults and children and her storytelling is further enhanced by her use of singing and percussion.She has performed at a variety of venues including The Substation, The Arts House, museums, schools, libraries, parks, MRT trains and the Singapore Flyer!Jessie continues to conduct storytelling workshops for teachers and school children. Having been a teacher for the greater part of her life, imparting skills and the love of stories comes naturally to her.
Helen Tan (Singapore)
Helen spent 42 years in the Education Service – as a teacher, school principal and Assistant Director (Uniformed Groups).Helen is now wearing several hats, as part-time school counsellor in a secondary school, part-time principal of YMCA School (since August 2009), training teachers at MOE’s workshops in Sexuality Education and also a trainer with NIE, training Allied Educators in Teaching and Learning, covering topics such as Classroom Management, Group Guidance and Basic Counselling.Helen has a love for music, drama and dance. She is a member of the Storytelling Association (Singapore) and a professional storyteller. Helen has a repertoire suitable for both adults and children. She has performed at schools, Peranakan Museum, The Substation and even on the MRT train. She conducts storytelling workshops in schools and she also workshops to train parents and care givers of young children in reading to children.
David Bok (Singapore)
David’s interest in storytelling took a leap when he joined the Storytelling Association Singapore) in late 2008. In late 2009, together with other SAS enthusiasts, he formed StoryLab, an informal storytelling group that has met monthly to develop their storytelling skills, with a view to performance. In 2012 StoryLab meetings were incorporated into SAS regular meetings at The Substation, an artistic performance venue.David has occasionally been engaged in telling at public performances. He tells stories regularly at Northlight Secondary School. He has also conducted workshops for Christian groups in Malaysia, Singapore and other countries on telling Bible and religious stories. His storytelling repertoire and preferences include stories from the Bible (Jewish and Christian), his personal and family history, and stories of humour and drama. In 2012 David’s personal development in storytelling will include a mastering of stories from the Bible’s Old Testament, and experimenting with humorous stories at stand-up comedy clubs.
Tan Joo Hymn (Singapore)
Joo Hymn was an early childhood educator and did the Storytelling Course in 2003. She was also an active volunteer in civil service groups such as AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research) and SAFE (Supporting, AFfirming and Empowering our LGBTQ friends and family). Joo Hymn’s initial interest in storytelling was to the children she was teaching. She was hooked from the first story she told without the help of text and pictures, when she could see the children’s eyes light up as their imagination let loose. After a few years, Joo Hymn realized that storytelling could be a very effective advocacy tool, and began choosing and crafting stories for performance for an adult audience. She found that if she could find a suitable story, or write her own, she could present difficult issues in an easy-to-understand, non-threatening, and hard-to-forget style that prompted further dialogue.
Dolly Leow (Singapore)
Dolly is not only a storyteller but also a reading teacher by profession. She works with struggling readers and regales her students with stories from far and wide. To her storytelling is a powerful tool in developing the listening skills and the imagination of children. Dolly grew up in a traditional Chinese family where she imbibed everything Chinese — the values, culture, tradition and the language. Her parents and her nanny were instrumental in developing her love for stories. They told her stories about their lives in China, the war and their journey to Singapore, which Dolly now shares with her audience. A founding member of the Storytelling Association of Singapore, she has told stories in schools, museums, on the SMRT trains and previous SISFs. In 2010 and 2011 she was invited by the Intercontinental Hotel Group to share Peranakan stories for the launch of “The Intercontinental Meetings”.
Mabel Lee (Singapore)
Mabel Lee trained in Speech and Drama and has a Diploma with Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). Once a Primary School teacher, she later taught Speech and Drama for a well-established company for their Primary and Secondary school programmes. She was also involved in theatre work and performed for Singapore Arts Festival Fringe in ‘Lanterns Never Go Out’. After attending the Storytellers’ Course conducted by NBDCS, she became very interested in telling stories to an audience. She performed at the Storytellers Showcase for the opening of NLB’s Asian Children’s festival in 2000. She was invited to take part in Storyswap at the 2001 Asian Congress of Storytellers. She has worked on various occasions at the Asian Civilisation Museum on Peranakan themed stories since 2004. She runs a childcare centre and enjoys telling stories to the little children there and looks forward to opportunities to tell her stories to adults too.
Thong Geok Lee (Singapore)
In 2008 while attending a writing workshop, Thong Geok Lee discovered oral storytelling and has taken serious interest since. She is a Professional Member of the Storytelling Association Singapore, actively engaged in improving her craft through “StoryLab” of which she is a founding member. Geok Lee uses storytelling often to entertain and teach, whether at home or in the communities where she lives and work. >Geok Lee is bilingual and enjoys bringing folk tales and classic stories from China to an English speaking audience. She has also performed in public storytelling events in places such as The Arts House, The Substation, National Library Board, MRT Trains, schools, church, private functions, etc. In March 2010, she won first place in a storytelling competition—Story Saloon, organised by the National Book Development Council and The Arts House, spinning the birth of her third child into a witty, riveting and engaging story.