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Story Circle

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years ago

A story circle is a type of workshop that brings designated members of the community together with the lead artists to participate in a sharing of stories. Simply described, a story circle is a group of people sitting in a circle sharing stories.


The playwright usually comes to a story circle with a set of questions about the community or about the play s/he is adapting. The specific questions vary, depending on the writer’s needs. As an example, when Alison Carey was writing her adaptation of Two Noble Kinsmen for students at a New York City high school, she decided to look at inter-generational issues. She asked, “What is the one thing about people your age that you think adults don’t know, but you would like them to?” (The answer was “Adults think that we don’t care about anything, but we do.”) One girl’s thoughtful response to the questions “What is a hero? Do you believe in heroes? Who are your heroes?” appeared almost verbatim in the final script.


The most productive story circles include 1) a group of community participants and 2) an atmosphere in which the community members feel comfortable sharing stories. As community participants become engaged in the discussion, misconceptions of the community may be identified, overlaps between individual experiences are revealed, and elements of community identity emerge. At the end of the evening, community participants may wish to refer the lead artists to friends, relatives and others in the community who have stories to tell.


It may be the case that one story circle includes only a particular section of the community ––for instance, HIV-positive men–– and a completely separate circle includes a different segment of the community ––such as members of the clergy, for example. In this case, a third circle might put the two groups together: HIV-positive men and clergy.


As the lead artists and community members share stories, ideas and perspectives emerge about the type of content that would be best suited for the community.


Cornerstone literarture describes one aspect of the process like this:


A Question for Our Community

As they sit in a circle, participants are asked to think about what one question they would want to ask everybody in their community. Each person writes his or her question down, then reads it aloud in turn. On the next go-round, each person chooses to answer one of the questions they heard. Participants then discuss the results.

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