I just want to tell you a story. I want to tell you the best story in the right way. Stories are important. They reflect us back to ourselves, show us the lives of other people, ask us to exercise our empathy. But our stories are being sold back to us, by magazines and hollywood movies – like bottled water. Everything I do is about bringing stories back to people. Your story. My story. And listening because we want to. Because people are brilliant. And that’s why I work how I do, and where I do – in theatre, because it’s alive, vital; in communities – collecting stories, making things out of the voices of a city, a workplace, an experience; in games and interactive online forms, because in a world where 100% of under 12s (BBC figure) play video games, if you’re not there, or at least aware of how it works, you’re not speaking the same language as everyone; in pervasive and real-life play – because so much technology, so many stories (especially those of people trying to sell us stuff, ideas) now travels with us in our pockets, via our friends, I think it’s vital that art and play are also in that space, asking questions, messing things up. And, because aside from the day job I’m well into punk, emo, and hardcore music, I get angry at all the divisions between artforms, and so put on my own events, which aim to bring DIY theatre to music people, and make my own theatre, which is designed to go into pubs, gig spaces, and works with musicians too. It sounds like a lot, I guess, but it’s just what I said at the beginning – about finding the best story, told in the right way. Destroy all artform barriers, I say.
I want to volunteer for Arts Emergency because of you. And your story. I want to make sure that everyone gets a chance to be heard – not just the people who can afford to. And then, even more importantly, that everyone gets the opportunity to believe they have stories worth telling. That’s most often the thing I encounter in community work – not that people feel they *can’t* tell their story, but that they haven’t got one to tell at all. That’s what we have to fight. The idea that anyone who has lived on this earth, who has loved, laughed with mates, made difficult decisions and beautiful mistakes – has nothing worth listening to. ‘Isn’t important’. Storytelling is what good arts education begins for you. And is what the support of peers and a lifetime of practice will help teach you. Stories are important, they are a weapon that if we’re not careful, the media and the well off will take from us. You can delete the last, quite militant sentiment if you like. But I mean it.