Alliance française du Bengale & Culture Monks are glad to present an online co-operative storytelling workshop called Sahakārīkathāmālā – to be conducted by Francis Laleman & Charles-Louis de Maere .

The workshop will be conducted in English and is open to all. But seats are limited, hence register early.

exercise your fingers


The workshop will be held on Aug 7, 14, 21, 2021 from 5 pm – 6:30 pm (Indian Time)

Those you missed the first session could still join for the second session.

what this is ?

Cooperative storytelling is where the narrator is not the sole designer of the narrative – but, like in life, our stories get intertwined and it is up to every
participant to stay in sync with her environment. Everything blurs into everything – narrator, actor, non-actor, spectaCtor rather than spectator, ACTience rather than audience.

Exformative storytelling is where the narrative is not information given, but driven by immersion in (and the outcome of) seemingly haphazard experiences, like events, or meetings with people, works-of-art, objects, what not.

Sahakārīkathāmālā is like performers and non-performers playing together, jointly (sahakari) stringing story-beads (katha) on a thread (mala), bringing together their experiences, feelings, and emotions of life-including-work, in a community-bound narrative.

With all this, a storytelling sahakārīkathāmālā experience is not so different fromthe basic concepts of forum theatre, as was proposed in the 1970s and 1980s, by Augusto Boal in Brazil and by Safdar Hashmi in India.

how this unfolds

three evening sessions of 90 minutes each.

Participants are welcomed into a playful storytelling space – which they themselves start filling up with objects brought from the environment of their own homes and carrying memories and experiences from their own lives. In a verystrange way, our collection of objects is an “objectified” version of our shared realities.

In the first session, gradually, a series of narrative formats are being introduced, with participants working in pairs, not unlike software developers would be doing in paired programming setups, but this time really playing tomfoolery with semantics, getting concepts, names, meanings and understandings all wrong and mixed up.

In the second session, we get better at this. But first, we get worse:) … As the confusion grows, new insights emerge, from collectively construed storylines, with objectifiers and vocalizers or signifiers, dancing in pairs like grebes on the surface of a pool.

The third evening, we add more constraints, like storyboard models, subject matter, and timeboxes – until we find that for every constraint added, a new sense of liberation is experienced.

what people have said about this

a wonderful cooperative learning experience … my mind is still nibbling on all the tasty mind-treats!

an absolute treat to learn and share these exformative techniques my experience today surpassed my expectations … learning through practice from and with this wonderful group … observing true cooperative facilitation by Francis
and Charles-Louis – Nick Perry, Sharon Leigh, Vasya Vankova (participants in a May 2021 edition of this
workshop hosted by LDA)

one of the most intriguing techniques that I took from Francis’ little book on Resourceful exformation is the idea of cooperative storytelling, where we either are thrown straight back into the erstwhile forgotten experiences of our childhood, or we learn to co-create stories in the corporate world, but with the vigor of what happens in a kindergarten … both possibilities are equally mind-boggling – Kartik Agarwal, Jaipur

where this comes from

Francis Laleman is a teacher of Sanskrit, an art-based educationalist, a workshop facilitator, and a performer, who has lived and worked with and in India since the 1970s.

Charles-Louis de Maere is a three-lingual certified coach and workshop developer & facilitator, educated and based in Brussels, Belgium, and working worldwide, a/o in Switzerland, Benin and Burkina Fasso.

Both have a history of working with the Alliance Française du Bengale and with Culture Monks (Kolkata) – Francis as a Katha’koli storytelling student and performer with Janardan Ghosh, and both as performers and workshop facilitators in the yearly Anglo- French bilingual Soirée Plein ‘Histoires / Evenings of Stories storytellers’ festival in Kolkata.

In the winter of 2019-2020, Francis traveled to Buenos Aires and Montevideo (in Argentina and Uruguay), for a tour full of pop-up workshops, forum theatre, research, and time to write. At the same time, Charles-Louis was telling stories in
Lima, Peru.

Building on these experiences, in 2020, during the first lockdown, Francis published his book on exformative learning, and Charles-Louis started
experimenting with stories and storytelling on Zoom, reaching a global fanbase as the Corona pandemic went through its ups and downs, only to reach an apocalyptic zenith in India, in April and May of this year.

It wasn’t long before Francis and Charles-Louis, who had been friends and had been doing stuff together for a long while, joined hands and came up with ideas to combine their two strands of storytelling.

The Sahakarikathamala storytelling events, which premiered under the tutelage of the Learning Development Accelerator with Matthew Richter and Sivasailam Thiagarajan Thiagi, are the outcome of this collaboration.

cooperative storytelling with rabindrasangeet, workshop at Borealis, Nov 2019

(click here to see some of Francis Laleman’s work with forum theatre)


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