Storytelling Starters ~ Games
Games – what for?
Two nights ago, down here in Pembrokeshire, I went to a most powerful play. The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning has been written by young Welsh playwright, Tim Price, now starting to make a considerable name for his work. The play deals with the case of the US soldier currently in confinement and awaiting court martial for bringing a vast mass of military secrets to public knowledge via Wikileaks. Should Bradley Manning be punished or freed? Was he mentally dysfunctional and to be despised for his actions? Or was his whistleblowing – for instance on US army killings of Iraqi civilians – morally defensible and to be applauded in the cause of right thinking and right action?
What made Tim Price’s play so particularly powerful for me when I saw it is that it took place in the main school hall of Tasker Milward School in Haverfordwest. This is a place which Bradley Manning must have known well in his teenage years. After he was brought back from America by his Welsh mother following her split from his father, he was a pupil at Tasker Milward for several years before returning to the US and becoming a soldier. Tasker Milward is significant for me. My mother went to the original Taskers High School. I’ve done several big storytelling projects there. And watching the play, I was in the company of a friend who actually taught Bradley Manning.
The production of The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning was by National Theatre Wales. The six young actors were brilliant. In every conceivable way – and it was a highly innovative, loud, inventive, multi-media production – they and the play were deeply engaging, obliging you to think on the spot about your views of people and of what is right and wrong.
War Games! They may seem a long way from Storytelling Games – except that they both make you THINK! I can only think that that’s a good thing.
Games: the benefits
Storytelling games are all part of my belief that storytelling is not just about performance. It’s also about what happens between individuals when they are given the chance to explore together. To me – and I say it again and again because I’m convinced it needs saying – this kind of exploration is at the heart of storytelling. Be it in a group of children or adults, adults with learning difficulties or mental-health problems, adults in community situations or very young children in nurseries or schools – storytelling games are part of an active and communal mode of storytelling in which all can play a constructive part.
There are huge benefits. Increasing your mental flexibility. Learning how to make dramatic changes in narrative direction. Enjoying playing with words. Using your wits and displaying your wit. All these can increase your appreciation of stories as well as help in your telling of them.