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LONDON STORIES: A 1-on-1-on-1 Festival

6 September 2013 | Mary Howell

As Londoners, we share so much of our lives with faces that have no names. The people we walk, sit and live beside every day are still somehow out of reach. Aiming to bridge this gap, London Stories: a 1-on-1-on-1 Festival will harness the power of aural storytelling in order to allow audiences to become immersed in the passions, struggles and joys of other Londoners.

The festival epitomises the Battersea Arts Centre’s ethos of breaking down the barriers between artist and audience by using experimental theatre; consequently creating a dialogue where ideas can be developed within. In the 1-on-1-on-1 festival, nothing is scripted, there are no actors or professional performers. They are real people who have lived the experiences. London Calling talks to Gary and Jane, two of the brave Londoners who have decided to share their stories, alongside the show’s producer Rosalie White.

London Calling: Rosalie, what drew you to becoming a key figure in such a unique festival?

Rosalie: After the success of the previous 1-on-1 festivals in 2010 and 2011, we wanted to see where we could take the form next. I was excited by that challenge, by the chance to work with such a wide range of participants, and by the curatorial challenge of putting together the audience experience. This project really pushes Battersea Arts Centre’s mission to invent the future of theatre. I believe theatre should be something that the audience is involved in. London Stories is not something that you can experience passively - It engages you directly and wouldn’t work at all without its audience. The intimacy and honesty of experiencing true stories creates a direct connection between the audience and the storyteller. And nothing is made up – all the experiences are being told by the people who lived them. This takes the 1-on-1 concept further than other years because you share every experience with the storyteller and another audience member.

LC: What can people coming to the festival expect?

Rosalie: When you arrive, you’ll be given your own timetable for the evening and a map of the building. You’ll then be let loose to explore a warren of candle-lit rooms across our old town hall and find your storytellers.  You’ll experience six stories over the course of the night and these are a huge mix – some are very sad, some are moving, some are funny and unexpected, or just quite weird – tales of hauntings, of embarrassing incidents in parks, or dramatic life events, tragedy and young love – and lots more. We’ve been genuinely impressed and overwhelmed by the people who’ve come forward to be part of it.

LC: Garry, Jane, the festival attracted a lot of attention so your applications evidently stood out. Without giving away too much, what is your story about?

Gary: Two paths, seven calendars, one colander and a hand full of nuts & bolts...

Jane: My story is about a life changing event and what happened afterwards. I have wanted to tell this story for a long time but due to its content it never seemed quite right. A friend of mine saw the application for this amazing event and said that this would be ideal. My story tells a tale of loss, personal tragedy and survival, with a subject matter that is taboo in society.

LC: Each story is told to an audience of two people who may have never met each other before. What affect will this intimacy have on the performance?

G: The audience being unknown to each other strips away any common ground they may have had, the story and storyteller will be their only link to each other. A newly formed bond with a stranger is a rarity in everyday London life.

J: It will make it more emotive for all of us. Having just been introduced to the spaces [small rooms, lit by candles] I think that the audience will defiantly feel like they’ll be taking the journey with me.

LC: Do you know your neighbours?

G: I do.

J: I know my immediate next door neighbour Doreen yes, she has been quite poorly so I look out for her and try to make her smile.

R: I don’t know any of my neighbours. It’s one of the sad realities of living in rented accommodation in a city as transient as London. I should probably take them round a cup of sugar… and maybe a flyer for this festival!


London Stories run from the 26th – 28th September at the Battersea Arts Centre. Head here for show times and ticket prices.

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