Friday, July 28, 2017

Pinoy Kuwentista: Anna Rhea Manuel

The blog's Storyteller of the Month is Ms. Anna Rhea Manuel.

Anna Rhea Manuel is a reading teacher, performer, and storyteller. She finished her Master's in Reading Education at the University of the Philippines, Diliman, where she also did her Bachelor's in Education, major in English minor in SPED. She wants to bring more stories to alternative systems of education and various creative platforms. For Anna Rhea, stories are the most powerful tools we have in understanding, connecting, and thriving with other human beans.

1. What is your origin story? 

As a professional storyteller, it started 2 years ago when I decided to bring stories outside the walls of schools. I've always known firsthand the power of stories, being a teacher and a reading advocate. I talked to people about it and one of my friends said I can use the 2nd floor of her restaurant to do my activities with kids and their families on Saturdays. The birth of Heads and Tales is anchored on the belief that reading allows for and creates empathy in the readers. 

2. What makes Heads and Tales Storytelling Caravan different from other storytelling program, troupe or organization? Why in Thailand?

As far as I know, I'm in the only one doing the storytelling professionally in English in Thailand. Being a home to Thais who want to learn English and expats who are seeking an English experience for their kids, I've found this niche to spread stories and the love for reading. What makes Heads and Tales unique is first and foremost, the quality of instruction and performance. I am a reading teacher and a theatre performer and musician - these skill sets help me in designing age-appropriate instruction and behavior management, as well as entertainment. Second, its roving nature allows it to bring stories to children in different spaces - libraries, schools, galleries, exhibit halls, community malls, parties, festivals, and homes. Third, it offers various workshops both for children and adults - which includes how to tell stories, storybook making, music in storytelling, and family literacy. 

3. Please share success stories about Heads and Tales.

One of the happiest success stories is that of creating a community of families in my Sunday Storytelling group. Two mommies offered their homes for us to conduct weekly storytelling sessions - where we did stories and story-related art activities. The group grew and grew so on Sundays, while the kids were with me, the mommies had their own mommy bonding sessions and skill sharing classes. It is a great deal for me that Heads and Tales has brought families together!

Another success is that I've seen more and more interest in making storytelling performances a part of birthday parties and holiday events. It's amazing to see how stories are becoming a part of these gatherings!

In the past 2 years, Heads and Tales has initiated and participated in various activities and events, one of which is Wonderfruit, a Lifestyle Festival in Thailand, in which I curated Camp Wonder, the family activity tent. Heads and Tales brought in visual artists, environmentalists, and a Capoeira group to conduct activities in this 4-day event. This December we will be doing it once more!

4. Can Heads and Tales be replicated or adopted/adapted in the Philippines? What opportunities and limitations does this kind of program present?

Definitely replicable - and this is one of its main goals - to spread  memorable and meaningful reading experiences to more people and settings. The caravan programs cater to a diverse audience - kids of different age groups, teachers, librarians, parents, au pairs, basically anyone who has a child in their care. A key element in running these are storytellers on the ground who  (1) have a fair understanding and respect for children, (2) are willing to learn/grow in the craft of storytelling, and because I will be working remotely, (3) are organized and reliable.

5. Where is the caravan going next?

Heads and Tales is on its way to Melbourne starting August. It is still ongoing in Bangkok with new storytellers. 

6. What is your favorite story to tell?

In Filipino - "Si Pilong Patago-Tago" by Kristine Canon. 
In English, "Please Mr. Panda" by Steve Antony.

7. Recommend 5 books/stories for storytelling
  • The Girl Who Always Looked at People's Shoes by Liwliwa Malabed
  • Xilef by Augie Rivera
  • What Do You Do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada
  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
  • What Happens Next? By Tull Suwannakit

For more information, visit the Facebook Page Page of Heads and Tales Storytelling:

Get in touch with Anna Rhea via

Mabuhay ang Pinoy Kuwentista!

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...