Single Stories & Scattered Islands

30 November 2020 Laura Hannah

Single Stories & Scattered Islands

Here are 5 things that have inspired me over the last few weeks – I hope they have a similar effect on you.

1. THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY

In this TED talk Chimanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about race, countries, people. She speaks about how having one story about Africa may blind you to all the other stories there are, to all the wonderful aspects we miss if we focus only on poverty and despots.

This made me wonder about the many stories we hold for ourselves. Do we raise one above others? Do we reject aspects of ourselves because we have been told a story by society, by our parents, by our friends? Do we hold that story close because it’s strong and we feel vulnerable? I try to spend time embracing the many stories of me, and feel confident showing that multifaceted being to the world, rather than hiding behind a single story.

Just click the image below to play the video.

2. THE CHIMP PARADOX

by Steve Peters

This is one of the books I rave about most, which means everyone who knows me now has a basic understanding of its wisdom. In its most basic form this book is a way of understanding the brain, how it works and what it does. It breaks it down into three components: the human, the chimp, and the computer. The chimp is our instinctual animal, reacting to things through habit and routine; it is emotional and often does things that we wouldn’t normally do. The human is us; it is rational, composed and logical. The trick is getting the human to control the chimp. The book easy to understand, funny and fascinating – well worth a read.

3. BRISTOL OLD VIC

Bristol Old Vic have announced a second season of At Home productions.

I’m really excited about the way the theatre industry is shifting. In a year when the theatres have been closed we’ve finally seen productions becoming accessible for all. This was a phrase I used a lot when I was working in the theatre, and I think it’s great anyone can watch incredible shows from their sofa. True, it’s not traditional, and of course, the atmosphere and human connection isn’t quite there, but I think streaming is something that theatre companies need to explore.

On a similar note, the Royal Shakespeare Company has teamed up with BBC and ITV to feature 25 productions on their new channel Britbox. David Tennant as Richard II is well worth a 7 day free trial.

4. THE SHETLAND ISLANDS

This time last year I was lucky enough to travel to the Shetland Islands. I grew up in the Peak District and autumn paints the hillsides purple and mustard yellow, bringing them to life briefly before winter descends. Shetland was like someone had cut islands out of my native landscape and placed them in the clear cold seas. I travelled by boat, and stayed in a beautiful B&B, I travelled all over and ate everything in sight. Travelling alone had never been something I wanted to do, however visiting the Shetland Isles changed that. Walking in the peace I could finally feel creative. Surrounded by stunning beauty, I was calm and free to do whatever I wanted. I think – once we are able to – I’ll be going there again. Seeing images of this incredible place has been soothing my feeling of homesickness during this lockdown, and it’s helped me realise how lucky I was to grow up with truly breathtaking landscapes as my backdrop.

5. TROY

by Stephen Fry

I’m closing my list with Troy because I love a good myth, and I enjoy Stephen Fry’s storytelling style. Often tongue in cheek and very aware of the confusing names, places and timeline of this particular story. I’ve been quietly obsessed with this particular story for some years now. I’m intrigued by its place as possible propaganda in the creation of a patriarchal society. I could go on, and if you’d like me to please feel free to email me. It also reminds me of the stories of ourselves, if something is repeated to us all our lives – that ‘we are lazy’, ‘we are stupid’, ‘we are beautiful’. How easy is it for us to challenge this as just a story?

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