Tag Archives: cultural leadership

The Saturday Guide: 8 steps of story deconstruction

The application of story deconstruction processes can play a catalytic role in telling new stories about Valentines Day and other commercial festivals.

A model of narrative deconstruction is offered by Boje and Dennehy (1993)  below.

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?  (e.g. who speaks for the trees?)

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.

5 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 what is 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.

Its worth seeing how you might apply this to love stories to see how the stories of relationships can be re-presented, re-communicated – and re-enacted.

Who in this performance could be replaced by puppets?

Integration of disabled people into the performing arts continues to be a hot topic these days. It’s like a badge of courage we might have won at school, something our mothers proudly stitched onto our jackets, wearing it over our hearts to show an organisational’s professional and political credentials.

Many arts projects view the prospect of complete integration up as a kind of holy grail of achievement, distinguishing them from other projects using the language of segregation, inclusion, participation and joining in. In this next series of posts, I want to consider those assertions closely and to see whether the badge of courage we think is stitched onto our jackets is more like those temporary children’s tattoos which wash off in the rain.

I want to look at the differences between integrated performance and assimilated performance. And I want to ask whether our desire to get people to join us and join in to our artistic endeavours is getting in the way of the more radical desire to join up a disability arts aesthetics to a wider critical pedagogy discourse. A discourse which relocates and nurtures the power of production in the hearts of those who are more frequently on the receiving end of the powers of cultural producers (artists and educators) who have their own artistic vision and agendas to promote: however benign and well intended those visions might be.

This will involve revisiting the puppet question, a proposal I developed in 2000 and 2008 and which asks of performances, performers and audiences:

Who in this performance could be replaced by puppets?

(Extract from works on Cultural Leadership)