International Storytelling Festival Singapore 2020
Adult Audience Performance

The Heart of Story

The Singapore Showcase

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The Singapore Showcase presents stories from the recent past all the way to the time when gods walked amongst men. Come and hear tales of love that transcends curses and cruel separation, of family history as bittersweet as pomelos, and of sly foxes with sinister plans. Are you ready to explore the vast passages of time through stories?

The Heart of Story is a series of 5 videos celebrating Asian folklore and mythology.

Pomelo (Personal family story)

by Karen Lee

Nothing should go to waste, even the skin of the pomelos can be eaten. In these short and bittersweet vignettes of family history, Karen shares the hardships her maternal grandparents went through in trying to make in a living in Singapore.

Traditional Cantonese rhyme and song: Paaih Paaih Choh  排排坐 (Sitting Together)


The White Fox & the Skull (Korean folktale)

by Aswani Aswath

The White Fox is a wily creature, set on consuming the blood and energy of its unsuspecting victims, by donning a skull to appear human to all. Will the salt peddler be able to foil its plans and save the village?

Traditional Korean folk song: Arirang


Kannagi: The Misplaced Heroine (Tamil epic)

by Melizarani T.Selva

Famously known for unconditionally loving her cheating husband and setting a city ablaze, Kannagi questions why Amar Chitra Katha and all known Tamil epics made her intelligence and courage a mere footnote. Why is she the poster girl of either a dutiful Indian wife or angry Indian woman? All Kannagi wants now is to regain her rightful place as a feminist icon in 2020. This is her story.

Video Credit: Aiman Azri ('Kannagi' was filmed by the artist while under stay home guidelines)


Handyong & Oryol (Filipino folktale)

by Anna Ong

Oryol is sentenced to live in the forest with her animal minions, cursed to live as serpent by day and maiden by night. Only her true love can break this curse. She’s lived in the forest for over a thousand years – until the new ruler Handyong, threatens to destroy her home. How will Oryol’s tale end?


Daulat (Nusantara folktale)

by Dawn Lau

Sang Nila Utama’s marriage to Demang Lebar Daun’s daughter brokered a covenant between king and countrymen. He went on to Singapura where three generations prospered until the fourth Raja betrayed his people.


Karen Lee

Karen has spent 20 years in the education field teaching mainstream primary and secondary school students and students with learning difficulties. When she became a Learning Support Specialist in 2004, she found storytelling an effective way to engage and work with children with special learning needs. She uses stories to teach reading and writing skills and to impart social skills and build character. She also holds a Julia Gabriel Foundation Teaching Certificate in Speech and Drama.

Karen has been a featured storyteller in storytelling festivals both in Singapore, India, Bangkok and Penang. She tells stories to people of all ages, in a large variety of venues – schools, libraries, shopping centres, museums, at the zoo, on underground trains, in gardens, and under the stars. She also conducts storytelling workshops for both children and adults, inspiring them and passing on her love for stories. Her natural, lively and interactive storytelling style captures the hearts of audiences both young and old.

Aswani Aswath

Aswani is an experienced teacher and freelance writer with a demonstrated history of teaching and writing for theatre industries. Her past works include Well of Silence, part of N.O.W (Not Ordinary Work) 2019 and Absence Makes The Heart… which was presented under Centre 42’s The Vault series in 2017 and in Wild Rice’s Singapore Theatre Festival in 2018. Aswani was the resident playwright for Buds Theatre Company from 2014 to 2017. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) focused in English Literature with a minor in Theatre Studies from the National University of Singapore in 2014 and is currently pursuing a Masters in Arts (Creative Writing).

For an introvert like herself, oral storytelling is an important tradition that invites audiences to practise listening, especially in a world that prioritises talking more than listening. Storytelling has given her the power to discover her own voice, and she hopes you will revel in its wonder as well.

Melizarani T.Selva

Melizarani T.Selva is a Malaysian spoken word poet venturing into prose. To date, she has performed in six countries with notable performances at the Commonwealth People’s Forum in London and ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival. Her first book, Taboo made the Top 10 Best-Seller List on Malaysia’s number one Online Bookstore, MPH. Her poems have been translated in French and Bahasa Malaysia. Presently, she co-runs the Malaysia National Poetry Slam and has co-published an anthology comprising of 100 poems by 61 poets from Malaysia titled When I Say Spoken, You Say Word!

Anna Ong

Anna Ong is a storyteller, coach and entrepreneur. She works with teams and individuals in crafting stories in their own voice, and is a consultant for companies who are looking to develop their story strategy. Anna has been writing and telling stories since she was a small child. She wrote her own short stories when she ran out of books to read.

She had her first taste of live storytelling while performing at an improv show with Magnet Theatre in New York City in 2018, and since then she’s told stories at The Moth in NYC and with the Story District in Washington DC. Her background in financial services spans 15 years, in which she held various roles in sales, relationship management, business management, strategy and operations. After leaving the finance sector, Anna discovered her passion for storytelling. She then set up WYSH (What’s Your Story Huh), a professional development company that focuses on developing soft skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking using storytelling and improvisation. She also founded What’s Your Story Slam, a live storytelling competition, where Anna curates the stories, coaches the storytellers and hosts the show.

As a female entrepreneur, Anna is also a business coach and mentor for the Cartier Women’s Initiative, a business plan competition for female-founded social enterprises. Her coachee in 2019 won the Laureate for South Asia.

Dawn Lau

In search of her inner creative, Dawn began her foray into the performative space in 2014 with ‘Ways of Wandering’, a programme of the O.P.E.N., a public engagement initiative by the Singapore International Festival of the Arts. Since then, she has been actively participating in creative writing, movement, voice, storytelling, improv, and spoken word workshops, seeking out opportunities to perform whenever possible. She is passionate about storytelling for its power to give voice to the shared human experience through myths, folktales and legends. Dawn recently performed at ‘Stories for Grown Ups’ with Moonshadow Stories at the NLB. To explore alternative storytelling methods, she has also participated in Body Poetry and Spoken Word performances, following workshops with Deborah Emmanuel and Shivram Gopinath, at Haque Centre for Acting and Creativity.