Storytelling is a powerful medium that allows people to describe an experience to a listening audience. While there are many ways in which stories are told, the Association for Progressive Communications together with the Women and Media Collective held a digital storytelling workshop to provide participants with the skills and knowledge to tell ones story in ways that would leave an impression in the ever evolving digital space. Thus, from the 6 -9th of July feminists, women’s rights and sexual rights activists gathered in Colombo to learn the craft of digital storytelling and to share their thoughts on what digital rights means to them in the current context. Why digital? Because today, digital is known to be an easy way of communicating with one another as opposed to other methods, such as telephones, due to factors such as costs.
Following the enthusiastic introductions of all those present the resource persons of the workshop, Jennifer Radloff and Valentina Pelizzer from APC described the methodology to the participants. Short stories of similar nature were screened and discussed for participants to understand better of what is to be expected of them. The screening included telling stories of sex workers, transgender persons, acid burn victims and other stories surrounding women’s issues. Thus the importance of building on such stories were highlighted.
Through the workshop participants were expected to create a story that could be shared online, within their personal spaces or in the story circle of the workshop. The stories were to encapsulate a theme: ‘me, body and rights in the digital’. To begin with, story telling and writing was introduced to the participants through various activities and by the end of the first day everyone had plenty of stories in hand.
Subsequently, participants began the process of creating the stories they were to produce digitally at the workshop. After introducing them to assistive techniques to script writing, the stories were shared within the group. Video and audio editing software’s were used among participants for the digitisation of stories.
The third day consisted of image searching, audio recording and editing of stories. Participants were encouraged to be creative with the story images they selected by producing their own pictures or artwork that would best describe their chosen narrative. For this purpose, the basics of selecting pictures and the general rules of photography were explained so that each image sent out a clear message to the viewer. On the final day, once the stories were complete they were screened at the workshop.
Storytelling is known to be beneficial to not just the storyteller but to the listener as well. A story is a reflection of one’s values, attitudes, beliefs and it depicts a situation that can reach a diverse group of people effectively and with ease. It is with this in mind that the digital storytelling workshop sought to share stories that are most often left untold, particularly by women, due to the lack of opportunity, constant discrimination or stereotyping that impede women and activists from telling stories that they want heard. Thus, this workshop was an opportunity to enhance the capabilities of those who attended by engaging them in the art of storytelling in a form that is more relevant in today’s world.