Blog 2: Jim Manganello (Immerse Artist in Residence)

18 March 2020


So here's where (I think) we're going.

Having used 'The Juniper Tree' as a story that we can really sink our teeth into, we're now playing around with the storytelling impulse itself. We're taking our cue from those games in which, for example, one person starts a story, someone else chimes in with the next bit, someone else with the next, and so on. I'm calling these Monster Stories. And we're exploring the many ways that these stories can be made, through dancing, drawing, speaking and making music/sound.

I asked everyone to think of a story from their own lives when they made such a big mess, they didn't know if they'd ever be able to clean in up.

First, they drew that story. They drew toilets and smashed phones, toilets and broken bones, bouncy castles, paint and pets. In order to make our Monster Stories, we then cut up these drawings and joined elements of unrelated stories together to make new stories.

We took the same story and made movie trailers by having them fill in the blanks:

This is a story starring _______, _______, and _______. It starts in a _______ and ends in a _______. Warning! It contains some _______.

Reading these out loud causes hilarity all around.

We've also taken some of the tableaux we made based on 'The Juniper Tree', stripped them of their origin, and asked the young people to imagine they were seeing them for the first time. What new stories could they imagine? That is how, just today, we had a jazz band made of bees buzzing around, stinging human beings, dying enormous deaths and then partying in some kind of jazz-bee heaven.

I don't really know where this will end up. If I initially struggled to encourage the young people to open up their own stories, I've discovered that in writing their Monster Stories, they in fact reveal a lot. Storytelling, in this sense, is a very generous act for these young people. It introduces us to their dreams and their fears. It allows us to witness them at play.