Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The World According to Nicolas Buenaventura

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

The World According to Nicolas Buenaventura

Article excerpt

Early on, Colombian storyteller Nicolas Buenaventura learned that "you have to invent the truth every day." With several storytellers in his family tree, he treats his gift with reverence and warmth of spirit

After a few minutes of introduction, Nicolas Buenaventura realized that for the first time, he was before an audience that had grown up without listening to stories--street children who had never heard of The Little Red Riding Hood. It was midnight in Bogota and the faces of these youngsters lit up. Once upon a time, people referred to them as street urchins, but as the country's situation deteriorated, they simply became billed as rejects.

So he decided to tell his version of how the world was created. "There was once a God who managed to resist the unfortunate temptation of making Man in his own image. First he created the Earth, and when he saw it was round and beautiful, he was left with lots of teeny tiny bits and pieces. Then he created time and when that started moving forward, he was left again with lots of teeny tiny bits and pieces." The children shouted and clapped as the storyteller rose to a higher emotional pitch to end his tale. "There's always a moment in life when you feel you don't belong in the world, and that's terrible. But if you know the story of Tom Thumb, you know that even the tiniest living thing has its place in the world."

Buenaventura found his own place in the world through storytelling. The boys in his neighbourhood were quick to discover his young talent. Because he did not have enough money to go to the cinema, they clubbed together to buy him a ticket so that he could tell them the film from A to Z afterwards. Today he makes a living from storytelling and dreams of directing his second feature film.

Like all his family, Nicolas was born with a storyteller's gift. His father Enrique is one of Colombia's leading playwrights and theatre directors. His grandfather Cornelio, a tireless conversationalist and professional storyteller, always repeated that "you have to invent the truth every day." So whenever he walked down the street, people would call out: "Hey, Cornelio, make up a little bit of truth for me, will you? …

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