Personal stories, public voices: Performance for public-making Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • The project described in this paper rests on a belief in the power and significance of storytelling in social change processes. It also takes seriously worries and critique about ‘what happens’ when personal stories of troubles or suffering are told to strangers, particularly as they revolve around contradictory claims about empathy. Over several months our research team worked with a group of women who have experienced homelessness and who are advocates for themselves and other women in our community. The women participated in a series of storytelling and image theatre workshops and exercises that formed the basis of a 20-minute dramatic vignette centered on their interactions with social services in the city. The creative process was designed to value the knowledge carried in personal stories of lived experience, while harnessing the power of the arts to evade some of the problematics of personal storytelling in public spaces. The women performed the vignette for social work students. In this paper we reflect on comments from students who witnessed the performance and offer our analysis of their responses in relation to specific features of the drama. In a discursive context that holds individuals responsible for all manner of social problems, we consider the potential of projects like this one for summoning and mobilizing publics and publicness.

publication date

  • 2016