Storytelling Army returns
22 Nov 2017
After taking over the streets for Brighton Festival, the Storytelling Army are back under one roof on 6th December with more epic stories from the people of the city. Stef O’Driscoll, Artistic Director of nabokov Theatre Company, who worked with the Festival and local partners Cascade Recovery Cafe, The Clocktower Sanctuary, Audio Active and Miss Represented to deliver the project, talks to us about where it all began.
Where did the idea and inspiration come from?
The idea originally came from looking at (Brighton Festival 2017 Guest Director) Kate Tempest’s philosophy of making the arts less exclusive and more social. Kate is an absolute mastermind and I’ve been very fortunate to work with her over the years in terms of directing some of her plays. A couple of years ago, we started to think about other ways that we could work with each other to engage new audiences in theatre and storytelling.
We started talking about what would happen if you had someone just walk into a pub and start telling a story. How would that function? Could you do that? So, that was the birth of the idea and then when Kate became a Guest Director of the Festival in 2017 we started to rethink about that idea and whether this would be the right platform to do that. Hence the army of storytellers was born!
How did you begin to research and develop the project?
We started to have a conversation about the different groups that we’d like to work with to champion people’s stories. In Brighton, there’s lots of issues in terms of drug use and addition, and lots of homelessness and vulnerably-housed people and so we started to identify different organizations and charities that we’d want to work with in partnership to create that army of storytellers.
Why do you think it’s important that these voices are heard?
I think it’s really important that we champion diverse voices in storytelling so that people have stories that they can relate to. Within our theatrical landscape there’s a lot of communities and a lot of voices that are not championed and are not heard. There’s a really important exchange that happens when you see a story where you understand that world, or you identify with that character - you as an audience member are able to understand what your role is within the world. For example, Kate Tempest’s novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses talks about a South London that I know, that I’m a part of.
So, we have to champion diverse voices from all walks of life for wider communities to actually engage in the arts – people that wouldn’t normally. Otherwise it’s going to remain an elitist thing, which can’t happen.
Can you explain more about the decision to incorporate music into the stories this time, and what it will add to the experience?
When the army stormed the streets of Brighton earlier this year, with the hope and ambition to make people plug out of their everyday lives and listen to their everyday epics, it became apparent how powerful music was. Music is a form that speaks to people, it’s visceral, it creates a vibe, it draws crowds, it’s accessible. We are aiming to breed more empathy by sharing our everyday epics in a way that will make more people stop and listen. We want to draw people in with the promise of a vibe and a good time whilst hitting them with a powerful story.