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ONCE UPON A TIME

Where:  the Commercial Press flagship store in Tsim Sha Tsui

Date:    1st Nov 2013, reviewed by Christa Tam


Can a chicken be a crocodile’s sister? Interesting question, right? That’s exactly what the audience thought when Roger Jenkins started telling the story at his “Once Upon a Time…” Storytelling Performance!     

He hooked the audience immediately with a Malaysian story of how a little chicken tricks the crocodile three times into not eating her because,  she says, she is his little sister.  While the crocodile is wondering how she can be her sister when she looks completely different, her friend the lizard placates her by explaining  that she is her sister because they both belong to the egg-laying family, as do turtles and snakes and crocodile herself!  The audience smiled and nodded in agreement.  

With his lively voice, expressions, body language and skilful ways of mimicking the sounds of animals, Roger entertained, without being preachy, while conveying the important message that people may be different in the language they use, religion they believe in, the colour of their skins - yet we all belong to the same human race.

Within his 90mins show,  Roger told eight stories and each one of them held a wisdom that has remained with me long after the story ended. There was a story of how things in nature are connected to each other, told with half a dozen listeners’ enthusiastic participation on stage. It illustrated everything in nature serves to maintain equilibrium, whether it’s a gecko, a firefly, a frog, a dung-beetle or a water buffalo.

There was a story of two brothers who were estranged from each other, but a clever carpenter builds what he thinks the younger brother needs (a bridge), rather than what the brother thinks he wants (a fence), and so brings about a reconciliation between them.  What a wonderful example of reaching out to connect!  

With the aid of some very simple props and hand puppets, Roger made each one of his stories sparkle with wit. The audience just loved it. Everyone was so surprised when he did a drawing story and at the very end we discovered the details of the ghost story he had drawn turned out to be a cow when he suddenly flipped the paper around!  

It was such a wonderful evening. For some in the audience it was the first time they ever listened to a master storyteller telling stories in person.  The rapport was excellent; Roger had shown how wisdom needs to be contained in stories told just as water needs to be contained in a pot. There is so much for everyone to savour.  

We hope that after the evening, everyone in the audience will start sharing stories with their friends and families and help revive this great art form.


There is no agony like bearing an untold story
inside of you.


Maya Angelou