When I was a little girl, my father would tell me the most awesome bedtime stories. They usually involved jinns (spirits made from fire, from Islamic folklore) and they would always start off with him, age 6, being awoken by his Uncle Maksum at midnight, when the whole village had gone to sleep, and going for walks where they would inevitably encounter something peculiar and exciting. I loved these impromptu tales — they are also why I am such a horror story buff. Ghost stories scare me to death — and hearing them renders me sleepless on any given night— but I wouldn’t dream of stopping you from telling me one.
My daddy doesn’t tell me these stories anymore. (Might have to do with me being 27 years old or something)….but I recently met a wonderful lady who is keeping alive this much-needed tradition of story telling.
Hailing from Scotland, Mara Menzies is half Kenyan and half Scottish, and her stories stem from her rich African background. In Singapore for a month, Mara is currently directing, ‘Under the Baobab Tree’, a “wonderful weave of inventive puppetry, mask, music and storytelling – an ideal introduction to African culture, animals and folk tales, with a host of quirky curious and colourful animal characters.” Aimed at young kids from age 2-8, Mara will tell you “how the ostrich got her ever-lengthening neck or how crocodiles clean their teeth and how the hyena got his laugh”…
But Mara’s story-telling doesn’t simply cater to entertaining and educating the young ones, she also carries out alot of story telling work with adults, from using the art of story telling to train corporate types in improving their public speaking to educating African communities about the dangers of female genital mutilation.
So bring down your kids to watch ‘Under The Baobab Tree’ (performing at Alliance Francaise until June 5th)………but even if you aren’t below the age of 8, come and watch this beautiful, animated woman anyway as she reminds you of the stories your daddy once told you as he rocked you to sleep.
Visit her website at tototales.co.uk
Book tickets to Under the Baobab tree on SISTIC.
Lovely Mara will also be attending my 11th Commune this Thursday, and will be armed with a few stories to entertain a small dinner party. Hurrah!