It’s now over a week ago that I attended The Story – a one-day conference about stories and story-telling – “The Story will be a celebration of everything that is wonderful, inspiring and awesome about stories, in whatever medium possible. We’re hoping to have stories that are written, spoken, played, described, enacted, whispered, projected, orchestrated, performed, printed – whatever form stories come in, we hope to have them here.”
I missed the original Story conference last year so I was surprised that there was quite so much theoretical content rather than, well, actual stories. But it was a hugely enjoyable event so that’s an unnecessarily harsh criticism of the day – a day which I came away from with a whole host of fragments to investigate further, always a sign of time well spent.
I was going to write up my notes from the event but others have already written some quite expansive reports of the day that would have put mine to shame, had I put my notes into some semblance of order – so I’m not going to go for a full report but will ‘publish’ the initial notes I have because at least that way I’ll be able to make sense of things when I return here to remember, which I’m sure to do.
• Margaret Robertson introduced the day and suggested that we spend it off-grid – cue many sheepish iPad owners surreptiously switching off, it wasn’t long before they were switched back on but it was a nice thought and perhaps one we should all embrace more regularly • First on came Ben and Lucy from the Ministry of Stories, a great venture helping children after school with reading and writing and based somewhat on 826 Valencia, a set up begun by David Eggars in San Francisco. The MoS is fronted by Hoxton Street Monster Supplies in further homage to 826 Valencia, as they’re fronted by a pirate’s supply store because of the fact the location they originally chose fell into a zone marked for retail • Matt Adams : “those engaging tell the story” : From Blast Theory talked about an SMS based narrative project dealing with issues around teenage pregnancy, Ivy4evr. Interesting process although personally I found it ethically a bit questionable • Adam Curtis : “people no longer believe the official story” : Plainly a frighteningly clever man although a bit too frighteningly clever for me. He talked of playing the story long, and about how story tellers needed to become less whimsical – which is probably why he left me a little cold – I like a bit of whimsy.
• Karl James : “Don’t become your story” : Spoke about the work he does with the Dialogue Project and the importance of listening, and played us a number of taped excerpts of interviews he’d conducted. Karl’s talk went down very well and there’s no arguing that some of the extracts played were quite affecting, however I was unsure, (especially regarding the contributions from children), about whether taking aspects of interviews out of their context was the right way to illustrate his point • Cornelia Parker : “at the bottom of this lake lies a piece of the moon” : Told us about the stories behind her fabulous art, including her use of steamrollers and eBay, although not necessarily in that order • Phil Gyford : “Samuel Pepys diaries are seven times more complicated than The Wire” : Phil talked about his sterling work on the diaries of Samuel Pepys over at www.pepysdiary.com, a more thoroughly complete website I think you’d find it hard to find.
Post lunchtime, and after bumping into, (and photographing !), Martin Parr • Paul Bennun & Nick Ryan resumed : “If you tell stories with sound don’t we all have different stories ?” : Paul and Nick talked about the use of sound in story-telling with particular reference to their game Papa Sangre, (which I’ve since played although without a great deal of success) • Mary Hamilton : “he’s not shouting, he just as a beard” : Who spoke very engagingly about Zombie LARP, (Live Action Role Play), introduced us to pump-action nerf guns and the concept of froth, (in which you bore your friends by detailing specific LARP based activities after an event).
• Lucy Kimbell : ”It’s amazing how obedient we are to the medium of a form.” : Lucy spoke about the collection of personal data. Perhaps I was waning by this point in the day because I didn’t really get the point of what she was trying to say, sorry • Martin Parr : “I’m a very nosey person and that’s why I’m a photographer.” : Talked through some of the back stories to his photographs, in particular examples from his time as a relatively new photographer in Hebden Bridge, more recent photos from a trip to Kenya and finally his collection of self portraits from around the world showcasing the different and very stylised types of portrait shots available • Graham Linehan & Cory Doctorow : “Stories accrete like coral.” : One of the highlights of the day for me was this excellent short interview between Cory and Graham touching on a whole host of aspects of Graham’s work – in particular his ability to procrastinate whilst attached to the internet when photos like this are available to view. And finally • Mark Stevenson : “This is our story, we innovate and invent.” : With his mission to fill our lives with hope, which can’t be a bad way to end a day eh?
So in summary it’s always nice to return to Conway Hall in London, and The Story was a hugely enjoyable event to attend there – although next year I demand some bunting!
[If you're interested in some longer more detailed reports then wander over to The Story's site and you'll find an abundance of links to some excellent writing, photographs and even drawings from the day.]
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Tags: 826 Valencia, Adam Curtis, Blast Theory, Conway Hall, Cornelia Parker, Cory Doctorow, David Eggars, Graham Linehan, Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, Ivy4evr, Karl James, Lucy Kimbell, Margaret Robertson, Mark Stevenson, Martin Parr, Mary Hamilton, Matt Adams, Matt Locke, Ministry of Stories, Nick Ryan, Papa Sangre, Paul Bennun, Phil Gyford, The Dialogue Project, The Story, Tim Kring, www.pepysdiary.com