Debbie’s unique and charismatic style has taken her around the world to perform from community gatherings to heritage sites, from corporations to schools and from storytelling festivals to sell out shows.
Born in Sri Lanka, Debbie draws from Chinese, Dutch and Sinhalese parentage, giving her a strong affinity from these, and towards other, cultures. Her rich, diverse heritage manifests itself in all aspects of her work, especially performances in educational and community contexts and for site specific work. As a Sathara Karaya, Debbie has a wide ranging repertoire for both adults and children, gathered from her travels around the world. Her stories are rare and have been collected from local people and tribes she met during her year-long global sojourn.
The interview about Debbie's life as Sathara Karaya, a third generation storyteller, for 'Taking the Traditions On' series
A live performance of The Ruby Prince for The Mid-Island StoryTellers of Vancouver Island, Canada
Debbie is a master storyteller who enjoys weaving traditional stories with history and the natural environment, as well as her amazing family stories, which leave her audiences enthralled, curious and replete with a feeling of wellbeing.
“Great performance, both mystical and theatrical.” Steve, film producer, Irish Centre, London
“Thank you for a beautiful evening. I really like the link to nature and the way the whole performance was crafted, going back to the beginning from the end.” Leila, Ashdown Forest Storytelling Club
“Debbie, your performance was a spectacular way to open the new children’s section of the library. The families enjoyed the way you wove between your family stories and global stories we’ve never heard before…and as this is the main library, that’s saying something!” Tim, Librarian, San Francisco, USA
“Your words have filled me so much that I feel I’m going away with a treasure box that I can open and relive these moments all over again.” Brenda, National Storytelling Festival, Australia
“I'm an anaesthetist, and I was assisting in a difficult childbirth. I told the woman ‘Talk to me’ and she told me that there was a really wonderful storyteller at the National Portrait Gallery who wove science and story and I should go along and hear her. So here I am and she was right. You are amazing!” Christine, Lawyer, National Portrait Gallery, London
“It was spellbinding. The atmospheric mix of storytelling and shadow puppetry had both adults and children enthralled. There is real artistry in this show.” Georgina Pope, Head of Learning, Horniman Museum, London
“I am dancing to your words!” Minnie (5 yrs), E:merge festival, UK
“I’ve always wanted to wear a sari – it’s been a dream of mine – and to have you drape it around me as you told the Sari story, well I felt so special and at my age it isn’t often you feel that way.” Julie, grandma and carer, Horniman Museum, London
“We loved your story, it was brilliant and beautiful, medicine and story. It was so magical to see you and Victor Krum doing the hand dance together. It’s made our night and the whole trip. Thanks for such a great memory.” Glynda, Harry Potter tour, London
“Debbie is fantastic! Her storytelling made me realise how fascinating a historical old place can be. She was mesmerizing.” Sarah, Tower of London
Debbie is an accomplished speaker at conferences and events, entwining fact and emotive language so the themes are seamless and the message is clear. Her experience and her art as a public speaker add depth and ensure that her audiences are inspired and motivated to generate change.
“We need to think and act globally, but people tend to have more invested in their local ideas and ventures. I think we need more time with storytelling, as at each conference we get to a point where people are opening up and thinking globally, then we go away and the skin grows over. So we have to start again.” Lee, Alternative Energy, BP International Conference, London
“Your story and storytelling were unexpected. You gave us all food for thought and that the message is not just for this time and place…it’s for the present, for the future and globally.” Jelal, Business Celebration Dinner, Birmingham Chamber of Commerce
Debbie is a Sathara Karaya, a master storyteller, weaving traditional stories and the natural environment with her amazing family stories. She has travelled internationally telling stories to children, their parents and teachers. Her audiences are captivated by the interactive sessions and left with the inspirational message that we can all make a difference.
As the Founder of Small Tales Storytelling Clubs, where young people are trained in the art of storytelling and public speaking, Debbie has left a legacy in the hearts and voices of the future.
“Dear Debbie: Thank you so much for sharing your storytelling gift and the stories you gave to our kids this week. You are an amazing woman. I loved being with you this week, to be able to sit on the edge of my seat and to watch the kids’ faces! I am so happy that you shared the story of your life in your storytelling. Much gratitude and love.” Sister Kathleen, Catholic Schools Association, San Francisco, USA
“The children were enchanted. The silence at the end showed they had been transported to another world.” Jenni Richards, Deputy Head, Pickhurst Infants School, Kent
“You are magical. What a treat it is for us having you here. Our children are mesmerised!” Rida, 3rd Grade Teacher, St John’s School, San Lorenzo, California, USA
“Thank you so much, this was a great, successful storytelling tour. You brought your stories and your culture alive with your personality and style. The children will remember your stories, the parents will remember your effortless way of making everyone happy and the staff will remember you and the inspiration you’ve given them with your generous spirit. I will remember 2 weeks of laughter, stories and friendship!” Yvonne, Wexford Storytelling Tour, Ireland