Celebrating Our Stories gets underway

September 12, 2018

Celebrating Our Stories is a multi-artform project will gather personal testimonies from LGBTQ+ older people from across southeast England to create a festival of verbatim theatre for 2020. Earlier this month, a group of 18 people met with artistic director Dinos Aristidou to start developing ideas for the project.

Here Dinos describes that lively and fruitful first gathering of the project steering group…

A Gathering

We gather. We meet. Beautiful cakes and sandwiches. Already a celebration. We don’t need bunting or flags. Our chatter is buoyant, our gathering as triumphant as any flag. We’re here. In this room. Together. Now. To talk and shape and make what we want to make how we want to make it about what we want to make it. To say and express what we want to say and express. To speak for ourselves and for each other and also for others. 

I’d met each and every one of this group. Now I see them together for the first time and it sings. It’s a gathering as lyrical as any song. 

The first meeting. Our first meeting.

Each individual is here because each inspired and smiled and spoke with passion with knowledge with wisdom humility pride insight. They’re all here because they opened up the world and never pretended to know the answer. They’re here to guide and advise. 

We’re here because we have most of the questions and not all of the solutions. 

We’re here. 

To make a festival out of the truth. In 2020. A theatrical, warm hearted, expansive, generous hearted, welcoming festival.

Our festival. 

Our words.

Our past and present and future.

A celebration.

The celebration of our stories. Of story. Of our story. Of stories told and untold, repeated, forgotten, corrected, ignored, admired. Of stories not yet told because they haven’t yet been lived. Stories that lurk in the shadows, stories that pounce out when you least expect them, stories that appear quite suddenly like uninvited guests.  Stories glimpsed on the edges of a dream, stories that hide in the corner of the eye, stories tasted between the soft soft layers of a sponge cake, stories that you’d read in the bottom of a tea cup.

We chat. 

‘I was. I am. The story of my life.’

We connect.

‘ I hope. I want to be. I’m here because…’

Energy fills the room. We begin. It’s a beginning. The beginning. It’s begun. 

I’m at home. Here we are. Come in. You’re always welcome.

Dinos Aristidou, Sept 2018

Thanks to support from Arts Council England and Baring Foundation’s Celebrating Age initiative.