In 2008, after a broad exploration of the theme of power, the ‘What’s the Story?’ Collective began an extensive process, collecting anonymous personal narratives from members of the collective and other young people engaged with Rialto Youth Project.
Each person told a story in response to the question: ‘Can you tell me about a moment in your life when you have felt powerful or powerless?’ 60 stories were each recorded, transcribed and edited privately with the storyteller. During one weekly meeting of the collective in Autumn ’08, the stories were first shared with the collective who randomly read them aloud together over the course of a few hours. Such was the power of this experience that the collective went about building on this form and developed their first of two participatory reading events.
‘Anonymous: Reading, Narrative and Memory’ was the first live event from the ‘What’s the Story?’ Collective and marked their first public engagement. In an intimate gathering in Rialto Youth Project, an invited audience of 60 people participated in reading and responding to a selection of anonymous stories detailing lived experience of power and powerlessness. Seated in a triangular format were 20 young people from Rialto, 20 people from the fields of Youth work, Community work and Sociology and 20 individuals from the Art Sector, who all participated in a choreographed journey of individual and group readings.
In January 2009, the collective then made its first short film ‘12 Anonymous Stories’ based on a re-telling of a selection of their personal stories of power and powerlessness, re told to camera by actors. This film has since been shown in NCAD gallery and The LAB in Dublin and in the Section 8 van at sites in Galway and Belfast.