Season 2, Ep 10: The power of story, with S. Shakthidharan


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A story, well told, has unmatched power. So how do we tell stories that take us through pain, overcome division and make room for all of us to be our full selves and still belong? What is it about story that makes it one of humanity’s oldest and best technologies? And how can those of who want to change the world especially tell better stories — stories that have a moral, without being moralising?

Renowned playwright S. Shakthidharan joins us on the pod to explore the power and presence of story: how it connect us — literally in our breath when a live audience is engrossed in a show. How it can divide, or heal. How it teaches us to be publicly vulnerable, that most exquisite and excruciating of emotional experiences. He speaks deeply from his own story and experience of the stage as a sacred space, in a conversation we didn’t want to end.

Shakthi is a Western Sydney storyteller and producer who works in theatre, film, music and television. He has Sri Lankan heritage and Tamil ancestry. His debut play, Counting and Cracking, was a box office and critical tour de force that swept the Helpmann awards (equivalent of the Tony’s in Australia), and has just returned from the Edinburgh Festival as well as Birmingham. Counting and Cracking is the story of the descent into civil war in Sri Lanka and the people who tried to stop it — as well as a cautionary tale about the politics of division.

His new play, The Jungle and Sea, is written in honour of those who survived the war, and the ways they found to uphold their dignity even when everything else was falling down around them. It will debut in Sydney at the Belvoir Theatre later this year.


Things we mention

Community art — or art as a social practice.

Things you can do

Get tickets to The Jungle and the Sea (in Sydney from 12 Nov-18 Dec).

Check out Shakthi’s new film in production, The Laugh of Lakshmi.

Learn more about the Sri Lankan civil war and recent developments.

Check out Shakthi’s production company Kurinji for more amazing projects coming our way across music, theatre, television and film.

Share this episode on social media or with friends, write a review on ITunes or Spotify.

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