Adapting to stories the festival way

by Stephen Finegold | 1 May 2016

the fourth wall evaporates and the relationship with the audience is natural, exciting and completely interactive

For the last thirty years I have been attempting to drive home to actors, directors and students alike the need to “let the story come out, let it fly, don’t drown it with extraneous aesthetics and needless tampering with form and structure”. After I started to work with ensembles at ISTA festivals I was drawn to revisit the idea of what the relationship between stories and theatre might be. Lately I have begun to re-assess the pros and cons of narrative driven theatre, theatre that always starts with a script, theatre of the playwright. If we begin with a simple starting point as an inspiration for a piece of theatre where is the story? Where is the driving force which will move us to create narrative and story from seemingly nothing? First of all I asked myself if there is any difference between narrative and story.

What is narrative? Tony Adams in the The Guardian argued that “narrative is a recounting of events. It’s the very nature of performance. Too often, formal and aesthetic traits of Aristotelian modes of performance get lumped together as narrative.” Isaac Butler asserts that people “often take too much of a reductive view of what narrative is”. He argues that “all narrative really requires is things causing other things to happen”. In other words a chain of causality: I did this then I did this and as a result this happened. Robert Mills in his article on storytelling quotes Branston and Stafford as defining narrative as a sequence of events organised into a story with a particular structure.

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