beginnings of a story lab

This week (yesterday) we started what we're calling a story lab.

The idea behind the story lab is to play with text and storytelling. To begin, Sam offered a theme of 'a time when you didn't get what you expected'. Yesterday we each told stories on the theme. The stories were recorded on snazzy smart phones and transcribed lovingly. Today, we'll bring in printed copies of each story and swap 'em. Then it's off to the races, playing, remixing, and mashing up text like nobody's business.

How does it feel to give your personal story over to someone else to read aloud, ahhhs ummmms likes ands and all? How does it feel to hear someone else take on your memory? How does it feel to hear your words interpreted by someone else?

I have a feeling it will be pretty disconcerting.

I really like playing with stories. In our collective's terminology, it jazzes me.


On a basic, personal level I like hearing people tell stories. I like being told stories, I really like audio of stories being told. Listening to the voice. Hearing the story in the air outside the teller's mouth, story made into soundwaves, story made external. Being part of someone remembering or creating and sharing something. Feeling like I am there, inside the story. And then I come to share it, and I can repeat it, creating new life and variations.

On a the theatre creation level, I'm interested in playing with story. Upsetting it. Seeing how telling and retelling and retelling makes us feel. In particular, I'm interested in the sharing of true stories by the people who experienced them (i.e. I tell a story of my first day of school) vs. mediated stories and memories told by people removed from the actual events (i.e. I tell a story of my first day at school, Sam records it, Jess transcribes it, Adele reads it, Shaun directs it, and Genevieve adds images to it).

In this vein, I've been thinking about these folks -

In February nervous system system (Vancouver) presented a show called close at hand. In the show, two female characters improvise monologues about their first experiences of death, swapping text and story lines and repeating stories over and over, talking over each other and slightly altering things just enough so that the audience is left wondering who actually did what and what actually happened to who. It was compelling and discombobulating to watch. I felt I was being toyed with. I was denied the satisfaction of tying one story to one person. My expectations were upset over and over. This story telling was not comforting or lulling, it was jarring. We were being lied to, but being lied to in such an evident, unforviging, and yet still disturbingly convincing way.

secret theatre (Halifax) is developing folkloremobile, a piece of work exploring folklore and the amateur stock car racing circuit in the maritimes. In the making of folkloremobile, audio recordings of stories are gathered, shaped, transcribed, and recorded by a cast of female actors. The final presentation will incorporate these recorded stories listened to on headphones wirelessly connected to FM transmitters in a space. In this case, story has been altered from its original source and filtered through a transcriber, the makers of the work, and an actor. As the stories are broadcast through various FM transmitters in the presentation space, each participant's experience of the 'folklore' will be shaped by their journey through the space and their interactions with others within that space.

So this week we'll find out where our own explorations of story will take us.

I'm jazzed.

- Sarah Moore