He started storytelling professionally when he almost lost his eyesight and since then, its been quite a journey. Organised by British Council, the session was different from what one usually experiences at literary meets and left the audience craving for more.
He started with a story about a young girl and her encounters with the big, bad world of men and elusive love. A story, set in a English Victorian era, involved beauty, love, lust, deceit, horses, carriages and stone castles. It narrated the love story of a young lady, which had a rather thrilling twist to it. It spoke of a scheme of a cunning, twisted man, who lured young women, only to deceive them after marrying them. Portraying horses neighing and closing doors perfectly, you could almost picture the story in front of your eyes. A distinct difference separated all the voices of different characters. The young lady’s voice was timid and shy while the old man had a quivering nervous one and the younger courtiers had confident, deep voices. You probably wouldn’t even be able to tell that it’s one person saying the entire story and not multiple people enacting it. With a tinge of humour outlining the narrative, the story kept the audience enraptured. With the right amount of suspense and a beautiful pace, it was a story one wouldn’t forget too soon.
Rushati Mukherjee, who watched the session from the audience, was amused, horrified, thrilled and taken aback in equal measure. “It was easily the most captivating storytelling session I’ve ever seen. It was as engaging as performance poetry and as humorous as a stand-up comedy act. And he looks like Shakespeare!” she said.
Pushpak Sen, another audience member, was astounded. “It is incredible how vividly he had imagined the story, especially as he cannot see. It was as remarkable watching him as it was listening to him. The sound effects he created, the actions which he presented were enchanting. I could totally imagine myself with the protagonist, Lady Margaret, the entire time,” he said, his eyes glinting.
The thunderous applause at the end of the session was testament to how engaging the session had been. We hope storytellers as adept at their craft as Mr Abbott will continue to visit Kolkata Literature Fest!
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