Sound Story

A new experience for me in Bernay was creating stories that had no words or images in them.

On day 4 of the workshop experience we listened to a traditional/historical story of the Bernay region, and without speaking, we took a piece of paper and each drew our favorite part of the story.  Still without speaking, we collectively sequenced the images to reflect the chronology of the story we’d heard.

These chunks of story were the way that we divided into groups. 

Each group described their part of the story in sound only – with a specific challenge: to try to touch all the senses. We had time to work together and brainstorm we would do it. Then, without a full run-through, we performed our sound stories consecutively – effectively recreating the story without any words or images. It was magical.

Each group went about the task so differently, and yet we all came together in a single, continuous story.

I desperately want to do this again with a different group, so I’ve recorded it here.

Sound Stories

Materials needed: A local/regional story. Paper and pencils. Found objects for making sounds.

Time: 2.5 hours, divided between Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 – may take less time if you have less participants. We had about 20.

Participants: Individually for Parts 1 and 2, small groups for part 3, the full group in part 4 for the final performance.

Part 1: Time depends on length of story: Request that no one speak for the first 3 parts of the exercise. Ask the participants to make themselves comfortable and close their eyes. Read the story aloud.

Part 2: 10 minutes: Participants take a piece of paper and pen/pencil and draw their favorite moment in the story – still without talking.

Part 3: 20 minutes: In silence, the group collectively sequences their pictures. Anyone can move any drawing to where they think it belongs. Once everyone is happy with the sequence, they sit back down.

It will be evident that there are ‘clumps’ of images around different events in the story. The facilitator groups people based on where in the story their drawing was sequenced. The groups should be 2-5 people in each.

Part 4: 40 – 60 minutes for creation, 20 or so for performance: Groups use sounds they create and found sounds to describe their ‘chunk’ of the story. 

Perform in sequence.

This is from my notebook…how I kept track of our sound sequence for our part of the story.


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