This coming long weekend, Enabling Village becomes the stage for a storytelling extravaganza. Storytellers and performers of different styles will gather to bring their interpretation of this year’s theme of ‘Unlikely Heroes and Working Together’ at the two-day Story Carnival.

We speak to three of the storyteller presenters: Lily Goh, a deaf musician who will be showcasing a song-signing performance; Gophi Nathan, a well-known deaf mime performer who will be conducting interesting programmes for kids and parents; and Pamela Lie, an artiste who encourages participants to express their feelings through text and drawings.

Lily Goh: Making music accessible to the deaf

Lily Goh is a musician who’s passionate about her craft, and who spoke passionately about the deaf community’s lack of access to Singapore’s performing arts scene. “So far as I know for my deaf communities, there has been a very poor accessibility in the local performing arts scene. How shall the deaf people enjoy performing arts without having appropriate access to them, like having interpreters on stage, or having subtitles on theatrical shows?”

An advocate for the deaf community, Lily is the founder of the social enterprise ExtraOrdinary Horizons, and an active member of The Purple Symphony as a percussionist. On top of that, she is currently a part-time student with Singapore University of Social Sciences.

Lily hopes participation by deaf artistes like her will bring more participation and appreciation in performing arts by deaf artistes and their performances to the public. “With having deaf artistes involved in this special event, this might bring more impact to the culture and bring more participation and appreciation in performing arts.”

Goh will perform song-signing with a singer. One of the songs will be an original composition that she wrote the lyrics for.

“I’m proud of it. It emerged as the semi-finalist in the UK Song-writing Contest 2015. I hope to show more of deaf elements in the multi-form of performing arts, as it could be good to tell stories in a such way.”

Gophi Nathan: Communicating the world of imagination through his body

Gophi Nathan, a deaf mime artist, believes that storytelling through sign language brings special benefits to a young audience.

“It teaches children to use their imaginations and make up stories themselves. It also helps children to visualise what is happening: the link between stories, characters and the real world. Sign language storytelling helps both children and the parents to communicate their rich and vivid imaginations between themselves.”

Nathan shared how sign language has shaped his personality. “Like my deafness, I live in silent world,” says Deaf mime artist Gophi Nathan. “Mime leads me to open up myself to be ‘loud’ person by acting through my thousands facial expressions and body language.”

Nathan started miming at a tender age of 14, at his first school assembly performance with his peers. “Once I started learning mime, I was eventually addicted to learning more about mime. Till today, I still enjoy doing mime to draw smiles on people faces.” (Nathan runs his own workshops, you can check them out here.)

He will be sharing more about mime at the festival through mime-cum-sign language workshops, colourful story-telling sessions, and concert(s) led by deaf persons and other disability groups. “Tons of laughter would be expected!” he promises.

Pamela Lie: Using dreams to drive action

Storytelling harnesses the power of imagination, but for Pamela Lie, one of the presenters at the Storytelling Carnival, stories are the power behind action.

“[For many people,] Dreams tend to be high aspirations, the ‘if only…’ or ‘it would be perfect if…’ thoughts and ideas we have. People think that dreams are fanciful, but not necessarily achievable.

“But I believe that we need to take actions to fulfil our dreams, and we can start by establishing realistic goals to get us there,” says Lie, citing her own example where she left a comfortable job as a sales executive to pursue a course in Art Therapy. Lie will be heading to Melbourne, Australia to present her thesis on Mentalizing in Art Therapy at an international conference.

Lie will be presenting ‘The Collaborative Storybook’, an interactive and collaborative process where she encourages participants, both young and old, to create visual stories surrounding the time of ‘Dreams, Journeys & Purpose’ on A5-sized paper. The pieces will be joined to form an accordion style storybook, along with a collection of both visual and written stories from the community.

“Life purpose to me is a spiritual journey. It involves my soul and impacts the way I engage with the world. It influences my core values and teaches me about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control etc. With these values, I can fulfil my purpose anywhere and with anyone.”

(Image source: From left: Lily Goh, deaf musician/songwriter; Pamela Lie, art therapist; Gophi Nathan, mime artist)

The Story Carnival happens this Hari Raya Haji long weekend (September 1 and 2) 10:30 am and 5 pm.