Pauline Mayers, 27 January 2013

Present: Sasha, Gloria, Hannah, Tom, Joey, Jaye, Amy, Christine

Apologies for anyone I may have missed out.

What's your story….? It's a big question and in asking the group what did the phrase

“What's your story?” mean to them, the responses were many and varied and


Why are we here at D&D?

driving and defining life narrative

community arts practice, using the narrative of non-performers

Personal stories verses fiction

How truthful should you be in telling a story?

Many stories throughout the session were shared, but one in particular related to one

person having been a lifeguard in a former life and the ‘duty of care’ that had to be

signed up to. The duty of care related to the fact that a lifeguard has an unpaid

communal responsibility to save a life of a person if they in difficulty the water, whether

or not they are on duty regardless of whether they are in a swimming pool, on holiday

by the sea or walking along the canal. should there be a duty of care when engaging

with the stories of others?

Others in the group wished to hear the stories of others rather than share stories they

may have. The D&D forum creates the ‘listening space’ and it is this space that is both

unique as it is rare in the wider community. In the listening space, the invitation is to

ask what is the story you are dying to tell, the story you just absolutely have to tell

someone else and how do you then engage with what has been shared?

One individual in the group shared their experience of a project that involved walking

from Wales to London and anyone they met on the way was asked to share a story.

What was interesting was being aware of how much we don't listen when the story is

being told and what details are lost in that moment.

This led to listening without judgement and ‘finding the special in the mundane’. How

to hear the story without digging for the story. If you dig by asking leading questions

you can get anyone to say anything, the point is to enable the individual to talk by

creating a safe space, where is made clear no judgement will be made, and the

permission of the use of the story remains with the teller at all times. People will

always have stories to tell and they will eventually tell it freely.

Bearing this in mind, what then does duty of care mean? Does the maker/performer

have a responsibility to be truthful with the story? What are the ethics surrounding the

use of people's stories and once the performance is over, and the final audience

member has left, how do you mange the fallout/disappointment/anxiety that can

remain long after the performance run is over?

There is a difference of the framework of care available between the maker/performer

and the non-performer who has shared in the same performance space and how to

exit the project in a way that enables the teller to continue with their lives without

feeling exposed, unsafe and concerned about what was shared. The maker/performer

has made a conscious choice and can better understand and embrace the aftermath

that occurs after the curtain comes down. The non-performer on the other hand

doesn't have the experience to understand what the aftermath may mean in their

everyday life, even though it may have been discussed whilst creating the safe

‘listening space’. One suggested way to enable the exit process is by ‘checking in’ with

participants after the performance by phone or email. The question is how long should

the maker/performer engage with this process? When does the current story become

irrelevant? There is always a point when the maker is far enough away from the

project for it to become irrelevant to their creative process. When is the cut-off point for


Lots more dialogue ensued which related to how the rehearsing or continued re-telling

of the story can begin to diminish the emotional impact of the story on the teller

leading to honesty verses character. The more a story is told, the bigger the allure to

become a caricature, to become a teller more prone to overact the story than remain

true to its initial telling.

The Jungian concept of ‘bearing witness’ was imparted. The idea that being in the safe

space afforded an opportunity for the teller to speak with an honesty and openess not

usually afforded them which will be taken. In this moment, where does the permission

to use the story and in what context lie? Once brought into the artistic space, does the

maker/performer have the permission or the right to change the circumstances of the

story, or does it remain firmly with the teller? Is there a limit as to how the story should

be used and in what way?

The feeling is that the permission should always stay with the teller, regardless of

whether initial permission was given and then recanted or vice versa.

It is an on going discussion that I would love to take further. All comments welcome.


Invitation, story, maker, Story, concept, exposed, discussion, walk, truthful, clarity,

walking, caricature, driving, character, digging, defining, scripted, material, judgement,

response, stories, pastoral care, dig, duty of care, individuals, listening, invitation,

permission, honesty, communities, arts practice, responsibility, why, performer,

non-performer, dialogue, verbatim