Throughout our reason consultation events at Homestead Park, we ran interactive imagination sessions, run by our amazing storyteller Lara McClure. This is the second project we’ve used this method, and it works really well at engaging and inspiring people – getting creative juices flowing and inhibitions removed. Following the stories, participants to come back to our consultation area and are way more open to contributing!
In this short blog Lara reflects on the sessions….
When looking at thematic starting points for interactive storytelling in Homestead Park this summer, the monkeys literally jumped out at us. The fact that Homestead Park had its very own monkey house until it was bombed out of existence in 1942 carries layers of meaning about the park, the times it has witnessed and the changes in civic philanthropy that have taken place since it opened. When the park visitors were presented with the idea of the monkeys, they ran with it – again literally in some cases, chasing the toy monkeys through the trees whilst chasing the notion of something so unexpected, quirky and universally appealing, placing that monkey house in historical time, in real space, and in the wider realms of the imagination.
Homestead Park had its very own monkey house until it was bombed out of existence in 1942
I used the monkeys placed around the setting to structure a rolling narrative which younger visitors could access at will. Set times for story trails went somewhat out the window as it was expedient to talk to whoever was there at the point when they showed interest. My stories were interactive and co-created with the young audience (toddlers to teenagers – plus parents and grandparents). In these stories, the simian protagonists experienced transport difficulties, integrated themselves into their local communities, kept house, told jokes, acted daft. The audience problem-solved their way through the stories in a way that fed their thinking about the space and their response to it as humans, as kids, as locals.
The simian protagonists experienced transport difficulties, integrated themselves into their local communities, kept house, told jokes, acted daft
There are practical, ethical and cultural reasons why we might not choose to reinstate the monkey house exactly as it was first created, but there is perhaps a monkey house state of mind that helps us to envision what could be achieved in a space like this with an updated philanthropic vocabulary. These stories helped us to unlock that!
Photos: © All You Need is Love Photography