The Other Side of the Story: Audience as Hero in Sudanese Story Telling

Eiman El-Nour


Traditional story telling in Northern Sudan takes many forms. Stories can be told in prose, or in verse, with or without music accompaniment. However, audience participation remains crucial, and is inseparable from the “performance” of storytelling. In this paper, we look at the various forms which audience participation takes, and what this participation adds to the performance. Audience participation can be indirect, as when stories are tailored to the tastes of the audience or to deliver a particular message. But often it takes a more positive form, as when answering quizzes, repeating habitual or ritual phrases, or taking part in the performance by dancing or singing refrains. Ultimately, the audience becomes, the hero, the central “actor” in this performance. Key words: Sudan, Storytelling; Performance; Audience; Folktales

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