Statement of Intent for a Narratorium
Story telling is a personal experience between the story teller and the person or people who are listening to the story. If the story teller loses the ability to engage the audience personally he or she is not telling a story, he is giving a lecture. Because a Narratorium is meant to be a place where stories are told, the story telling places should not facilitate large groups of people. Instead they should encourage small groups of people to engage in the act of story telling.
If the Narratorium is going to act as a civic institution, it will have to allow the general public to actively engage with it. It should encourage people to come in and listen to stories but more importantly it should invite them to tell their own stories. If the only people telling stories in this place are the professional story tellers then the Narratorium will be nothing more than another movie theatre or concert hall. By engaging the public through encouraging them to tell their own stories not only will the Narratorium help enhance the art of story telling, it will preserve the role of story telling in modern society and in the process record the popular history of the city and its inhabitants.
Although story telling is something that requires personal interactions, it is important that the Narratorium records people’s stories for later generations. This is how the Narratorium will function as something more than being just a place to sit and talk. In addition to recording the history of the city, the Narratorium needs to promote the art of oral story telling. This will be done to some extent by having people come in off the street and tell their stories. The Narratorium will formally promote the art of story telling by offering story telling workshops. These workshops would be taught by the story tellers employed by the Narratorium and by the resident guest story teller.
Another important feature of the Narratorium will be the translation of oral stories into works of art. There will be accommodations for an invited guest artist to live and create art work based on the stories he or she has heard at the Narratorium. The work produced by the artist will then be displayed either in a gallery at the Narratorium or in the story telling areas of the building.
The other live-in guest at the Narratorium will be a visiting story teller. He or she will take part in engaging the public in story telling. He or she will conduct some of the story telling workshops and in addition to telling his or her own stories, he or she will spend his or her time in the Narratorium talking to the public and encouraging them to tell their own stories. The third task of the guest story teller will be to work with the guest artist. The story teller will tell his or her stories to the artist who will then create art that is inspired by or recreates the story teller’s stories. The artist will hopefully also create art that is inspired by the stories told by the public who come into the Narratorium to tell their own stories.
In order to get people to tell their own stories the Narratorium will employ several story tellers who go out into the Natatorium’s story telling areas and ask people questions that will help them begin telling stories of their own. The Naratorium’s story tellers will also tell their stories to get the public to tell stories in response to what they have just heard.
Together with the guest story teller the story tellers employed by the Narratorium will determine which stories should be archived. If a story is deemed archive worthy, the person will be asked to return to the Narratorium to retell their story so that it can be recorded and put into the archive. Even though the most important part of story telling will be lost when someone watches a video of a story being told, the archive will be an important part of the Narratorium. Through the archive, the Narratorium will be able to preserve people’s stories for future generations and build a history of the city as it is seen by the people who live here.