Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

Working in and on the Business of Cultural Education

Day 13 of the 26 Day Big Shut Up: get a grip on your own story.

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Story deconstruction techniques are great ways to counteract those who urge you to shut it.

Boje and Dennehy (1993) are particularly helpful when it comes to getting to grips with speaking out in a way you want to and constructing your own story, rather than repeat the stories of more dominant voices:

1. Duality search make a  list of any bipolar terms, any dichotomies that are used in the story,  Include the term even if only one side is mentioned. For example, in male centred and or male dominated organisation stories, men are central and women are marginal others.  One term mentioned implies its partner.

2. Reinterpret the hierarchy.  A story is one interpretation or hierarchy or an event from one point of view.  It usually has some form of hierarchical thinking in place.  Explore and reinterpret the hierarchy  (e.g. in duality terms how one dominates the other) so you can understand its grip.

3. rebel voices.  Deny the authority of the one voice.  Narrative centres marginalise or  exclude.  To maintain a centre takes enormous energy.  What voices are not being expressed in this story? Which voices are subordinate or hierarchical to other voices?

4. Other side of the story.  Stories always have two or more sides.  What is the other side of the story (*usually marginalised, underrepresented or even silent?)  reverse the story, by putting the bottom on top., the marginal in control, or the back stage up front.  For example, reverse the male centre, by holding  a spotlight on its excesses until it becomes  female centre in telling the other side; the point is not to replace one centre with another, but to show how each centre is in a constant state of change and disintegration.

Deny the plot.  Stories have plots, scripts, scenarios, recipes and morals.  Turn these around (move from romantic to tragic or comedic to ironic).

6. Find the exception.. stories contain rules, scripts, recipes and prescriptions.  State each exception in a  way that make its extreme or absurd.  Sometimes you have to break the rules to see the logic being scripted in the story.

7. Trace what is between the lines.  Trace what is not said.  Trace the writing on the wall.  Fill in the blanks.  Storytellers frequently use ‘you know that part of the story’.  Trace what you are filling in.  with what alternate way could you fill it in  (e.g. trace to the context, the back stage, the between, the intertext?)

8. Resituate.  the point of doing 1 to 7 is to find a new perspective, one that resituates the story beyond its dualisms, excluded voices of singular viewpoint.  The idea is to reauthor the story so that the hierarchy is resituated and new balance of views is attained.  Restory to remove the dualities and margins.  In a resituated story there are no more centres.  Restory to script new actions.

Go on – have a try and reconstruct the stories that are being imposed on you. You know you want to.

This blog is contributing to The Mighty (Un)Mute, a campaign aiming to raise £5,000 to support the artistic creation for one of ten Globe Sculptures in The World Reimagined art trail across Leicester. The purpose? To recognise and honour those most impacted by the Transatlantic Trade in Enslaved Africans through the centuries to the present day.

The TMC staff team are going to support the campaign by taking part in the Mighty (UN)Mute, a day-long vow of silence, on the 5th October. If you want to join us on the day and take a vow of silence, then please check out the campaign here. 

Of if the thought of donating your silence for 24 hours is really too much, then you can donate your hard-earned disposable income here.

Or if neither of these is possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcome and appreciated.

So… come and help me to shut up, once and for all. You know you want to.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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