YourStories – Community

YourStories projects encourage participants to share their stories and explore ideas through interviews, discussion, writing, improvisation, and visual art, resulting in an original performance piece developed from their own words and images.

YourStories  Community Project can be implemented at a single facility or at multiple locations, but works best when time is allowed for participants to meet in one location for workshops and discussion.  The most interesting projects happen when participants of different ages, cultures, or perspectives come together to contribute.

Project Themes

The project is usually centered on a central concept or theme, which may be determined in advance, or decided by the consensus of the participants as artists and participants begin working together. Examples  project themes include:

  • War – reflections of veterans, and/or those left at home
  • Immigration Stories – the challenges of making a life in a new country
  • Homelessness – what it feels like, how to survive it, how to help
  • Aging – fears, joys, frustrations, hopes, and the challenge of navigating your way in a changing world

For themes related to youth projects, please see the description on our YourStories-Schools page.

Project Process

YourStories has five key phases:

  1. Planning – artists meet with sponsoring organization(s)  to set up the project parameters, objectives, and schedule.
  2. Creation Period – artists meet with participants for a series of discussions, personal interviews, and or workshops that may include improvisation, creative writing exercises, and visual arts.  Participants may then write essays or poetry, create artwork, or take photographs based on the designated theme.  (This may be facilitated by the artists, or participants can work on their contributions on their own time, with submissions coordinated by a staff person at the organization.)   At the end of the creation period, the writing and artwork is collected and submitted to the company.
  3. Script Development – artists select pieces from the participants’ written work and shape it into a performance piece—story, dialogue, and music. Artwork is used in creating scenic elements (and sometimes costumes.
  4. Performance – the finished work is produced and performed.
  5. Follow-Up – discussion, reflection, and evaluation of the project.

Performance Options

The final performance can be presented in one of two ways:

  • Our company can produce the show with professional actors and bring the finished work back to your organization, or perform it for the public at a local theatre space.
  • Our artists can facilitate a production – at your facility or a public venue – with participants performing the work and creating the sets and costumes themselves.

For organizations with limited budgets (or located at too great a distance for artists to complete a long residency period),  Unexpected Company can develop and provide the finished script and design elements for your production, so that your organization can produce the play with your clients. At your request, our artists can come back in the few days before production to do some final coaching with the performers.

Technology Enhancements

YourStories projects can be enhanced through the use of technology including:

  • Video and photos of students captured during the residency and creation phases of the project can be incorporated into the final production.
  • Student writing and art work (include work not selected for the final performance piece) can be displayed on a project website.
  • The final performance can be recorded and made available as a DVD or streaming video.

Budget & Funding

A YourStories project can be designed to fit your organization’s needs and budget. The final performance can be as simple as a staged reading with minimal technical elements, a fully realized theatre production, with sets, costumes, and multi-media effects, or a video-based project.  Public performances of your project may be used as a fundraiser for your organization.

Unexpected Company has an experienced grantwriter on staff who can help you locate potential funding for your project and assist you in preparing grant and sponsorship applications.