Today we completed the second of two story-gathering training workshops held in Brighton and Hastings. Both were absolutely magical and full of humour, commitment and such sensitivity for the stories of others and the stories we have to share.
The Celebrating Our Stories project seems to be consistently bringing together the most wonderful people, and as the project grows so does the intricate web of connection so that every time we meet feels itself like a celebration of our shared humanity and our creativity.
So what, you may ask, is story-gathering and how does it differ to interviewing? Story-gathering is based around the principle of someone telling an interrupted story about a life experience. We’ve chosen six focus themes for the stories:
- How we changed the world
Story-gatherers will record stories of older members of the LGBTQ+ community around these themes which will then form the basis of the performance piece that will be at the heart of the Celebrating Our Stories festival in 2020. The training for story-gatherers involved how to prepare people to tell stories of real life experiences, active and ‘naïve’ listening, the ethics of gathering and using stories, getting consent, using story prompts rather than interview questions, ways to celebrate our present and the experiences that have brought us here.
They were two action-packed but joyful training days. As part of the training, story-gatherers shared their own stories so that they could experience this process from the point of view of the storyteller and identify any challenges they might face. The energy of telling stories and the few we managed to hear, was inspiring and filled me with a real sense of celebration for our capacity to share and create and connect.
The collection of these stories is key not only to the project, but also to the recording of our history and the significance of our stories.
Once the stories have been gathered, another group will ‘sift’ through the material and think about its theatrical potential before a group interested in writing will use some of the stories as inspiration. Please look out for possibilities to get involved in any of these stages of the project – it’s a celebration and as with most celebrations, the more the merrier!
Dinos Aristidou, Artistic Director