Posted by: stelladuffy | February 21, 2014

Snow White/Jesus/Fun Palaces/The Story

Oh, it’s all bloggity blog round here …
(if you read my blog yesterday, about the cancer up/down, you might want to read Shelley’s about how it is for the partner. good stuff.)

So, despite the convenor/organiser/supremo (lovely Matt Locke, who has his own experience of sick loved ones) asking me several times this week was I REALLY REALLY sure I wanted to do The Story today, I turned up anyway. Not for the whole day sadly, which meant I missed, among others, Meg Rosoff, who I know is great, and didn’t get to tell Alan Rusbridger that The Guardian needs to be our Fun Palaces media partner (I did ask the audience to do it for me though, so hopefully someone will), but in time to see the brilliant two before me (Kyle Bean and Kenyatta Cheese), and then rush off to go to the dressings clinic, where the splendid Diane, dressings clinic nurse, took a scalpel to my bloody breast blisters – luckily I (currently) have no feeling in my bloody breast.

It was weird getting ready to do a gig, made up, dressed up. Weird to be putting on the performance-Stella, who is as much me as sick-Stella, or home-Stella, but definitely quite different from hospital-gown-Stella. (Performance-Stella, for eg, is far less interested in herself, and far more likely to chant that the audience are having a good time. Contrary to expectation, the performance version of most theatremakers/artists I know is always much more interested in the experience of others than their own.)
Anyway, I was there to talk about Fun Palaces, had a few slides, was all ready to go, not sure I’d say the cancer thing or not, or if I would, when – to start and have them look at me with their heads on side (some pity, some horror perhaps), at the end to force empathy/underline meaning …

But what happened instead was this :
Kenyatta was on before me, talking about the internet and gifs and using the Snow White story as an analogy for the gif and the internet and it all.
And I have long used the Snow White story to tell the story of Story, partly because it perfectly parallels the classic Hollywood (over-used, over-simplified) myth structure, but also because it parallels some other Very Big Stories most of us know, and so, given the event was called The Story, and even though I was there to tell Fun Palaces as a story, something else happened. (And because I have improvised since 1987, and because impro is what taught me to write, and because impro is ALL, I felt able to go with what happened, not what I had very loosely/sort of planned.)

I’d usually use a white board to draw a picture that looks like this :
photo
(Basic Snow White story plot, am totally sure you can work it out for yourself, it’s where it aligns to other Big Stories that it gets exciting)

Anyway, I had no white board/flip chart, so I used some people.
There were 450 in the hall, this is me and some willing volunteers from the audience (they RAN up on stage! brilliant!), it probably doesn’t do justice to how cool it felt to be improvising (first day in the world post-op), and it certainly doesn’t explain Story structure quite as clearly as I’d hoped in this clip, but anyone who’s done a workshop with me will get the gist, and the rest of you can come along to the next one … (which is here in May.)
Basically I love that someone in the audience (in the balcony of the audience) decided to grab it and (asked if he could) put it on youtube to share. That’s impro, folks!
The Snow White = Jesus Story Structure live-action diagram

After that, then yes, I talked about Fun Palaces.
I was fairly bouncy and so I’m not sure I fully explained how very anyone-can-play they are, or why we’re doing them on 4th & 5th October this year (Joan Littlewood’s centenary is 6th October), or that we (we = Sarah-Jane Rawlings & I and a lot of very enthused people all over the country) want this to become a national festival of simultaneous local engagement arts/sciences/culture & that it will take place EVERY year, and we’ll get better and more engaged, more local, more online, more sharing as we progress … but I think most people got the idea. Certainly there have been lots of twitter enthusiasts saying they want to join in. Twitter is SO our Fun Palaces friend …
(we’re @funpalaces)

So. Today, two weeks exactly since surgery, I got up, got dressed up, shared my PASSION and then went to hospital for a bit, and now am home in my pjs and having a cup of tea and about to collapse. And it’s the PASSION that matters, that makes a passion project work, that makes the Fun Palaces work, that makes having goals – like getting out and doing the gig today – utterly valuable. Yes, I’m tired, yes, I was in a big lot of pain after the adrenaline rush subsided, but yes, it was totally worth it. The Fun Palaces matter. They CAN make a difference. But not without us sharing them and making sure all the people (not just the artists!) know they can join in, can make, can be part of. It was my job today to share them. Feel free to make it your job this evening, tomorrow, this week, next month …

Boon Yew Chew said I could share his brilliant sketchnote about my talk-story (nb, the Maori, korero, is TOTALLY what The Story is all about, such a hui atmosphere there), it pretty much sums up what I did today (minus scalpel) :

BhADmvVIEAASPfy


Responses

  1. Your energy today was incredible! You did get all of the above across (apart I think from the birthday/anniversary point which is not needed to get the idea), the openness of the project was clear.

    And here’s a little thank you to Ruth MacKenzie who in a way got the ball rolling for today by introducing you to me, enabling me to link you with Matt and The Story. I’m confident it will prove a good audience to help amplify your amazing Fun Palaces project.

  2. thank you Adam. Ruth’s been mentioned in gratitude a few times today – I hope her ears are burning!

  3. […] I could have dreamed. She used her three decades experience of improvisational theatre to create a spontaneous and focused energy of extraordinary impact. She picked up on the contribution just before hers, Kenyatta Cheese on the […]

  4. […] used slides to illustrate their stories whereas another, Stella Duffy, on the back of Kenyatta’s history of the .gif by way of the fairytale Snow White, used people […]

  5. […] Caig 10 Things I Learnt At The Story by Fiona Thompson Notes from The Story 2014 by Giles Turnbull The incredible Stella Duffy reflecting on her amazing talk Wired UK on Kenyatta Cheese’s talk Wired UK on Bill Wasik’s talk And finally – […]

  6. […] popstar who sings about the future and is managed by her 9-year-old niece. Writer and theatre-maker Stella Duffy enlisted us to join her in a levelling of cultural places so they feel open and accessible to […]


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