Telling stories with imagination.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Metta likes... Stories

12 Dancing Princesses, V&A Museum 2010
We seem to have somewhat fallen off the blogging wagon over the festive season, so lets get back on track with the weekly 'Metta Likes...'  and this week stories. This is what we're all about (at Metta), telling stories in new ways, telling new stories, retelling old stories, telling the same stories through different media (Sexing The Cherry being a great example of that which has spawned two other shows - 12 Dancing Princesses & Points of Light and hasn't actually seen the stage-light of day...yet). Stories, stories and more stories.

Why are we so into stories?
Well, it's the heart of theatre isn't it really? That doesn't mean your narrative has to be linear and some will say you don't even have to have a narrative. But for me theatre without narrative can be performance but it's no longer theatre. Arghhh semantics (avoid avoid avoid). But we want to go on a journey - to start in one place and end up somewhere else (hopefully having felt something along the way - so we're in an emotionally different place to when we started).

My head is particularly full of stories (and what we love about them) this week, because we had a reading of my adaptation of Jeanette Winterson's Sexing The Cherry at the Young Vic on Tuesday, and as well as telling many stories it also very much grapples with the nature of story-telling on a meta (and Metta) level. Storytelling in the piece is a mode of communication and a form of courtship - it is their currency...just as it is in real life, although in a much less heightened/stated way. We bond over a pint and the regaling of anecdotes about our exes, and in the early stages of a relationship we get to know our significant others by telling and retelling (with editing and interesting omissions) the stories of our lives.

I've been working with The Factory over the last few months on their next show - which will be a version of The Odyssey - which is of course also all about the story and the act of storytelling - and the tensions between the epic and the domestic. A lot of overlap with STC actually. But again it all comes back to journeys - following someone's journey (Odysseus, mostly), watching a transformation, seeing something change before your eyes (and in both Odyssey & STC in quite magical ways, sometimes). Which is why simply watching someone move through space, or cross a stage, can be a story (we project onto them 'character' and all that jazz) because it is a journey. And the best stories (I think) are circular so the journey doesn't really take you anywhere new - but by going on the journey you are changed/transformed - I remember really clearly studying Brecht at A-level and talking about how he used the prologue to tell you exactly what's going to happen in the play and that didn't and doesn't spoil your experience of it at all, because then you can focus on the journey and not the destination. Because really the journey is all we have, there is no actual destination.

Hmmm, deep (?) Lets get Heather and Will back next week to talk about actual shows!

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