Expect the Unexpected

You think you know someone, then they put on a silver cape and turn into a poet!
— Liz Clarke (talking of a participant)

The Unexpected certainly cropped up in our Re:Mapping sessions, so much so that it became a welcome friend and weaved its way into the very heart of the work. 

Who would have thought that we would find 100 ducks nestled in a library cupboard, inspired by our stories of unexpected things that have happened in libraries? We had it on good authority (member of library staff) that live ducks wandered into a local library on a regular basis; she also informed us that rock concerts, all night raves and professional wrestling have all taken place behind library doors! 

Each Re:Mapping session was surprising in its own way. Not one session was the same; there was no repeated formula. We worked with the people, stories and dynamics in the room. We were privileged to witness tender accounts of heart aching poignancy, astonishing bravery and survival against the odds and through performance and live art, supported participants to bring them to life. 

The unexpected element of our sessions saw participants transform into poets through the flick of a silver cape!  

She dances on the dance floor like she dances with life, full of beauty and poise.
— Participant, whilst telling a story about his wife

Discover more

We asked people to bring in an object of personal significance to them. We created tableaux using these objects which we brought to life in our sessions through role-play and devising. Each story was autobiographical from participants' lives.

Close your eyes and imagine...somewhere in the library: 

A woman searches frantically for her keys amongst the books. They represent her freedom. 
A man hands out homebrew to an audience in the library whilst reminiscing about mixing alcohol with cheap jam. 
A woman in overalls wolf-whistles at the men down below from the roof where she is working, throwing tiles down to the ground with abandon.
A man cuts out a pattern for short trousers, a wartime tune plays softly in the background.

follow on ideas

Think about how could you use an activity like creating a tableau with your group. Encourage participants to imagine being in other people's shoes, or live the main character's life.  Ask the group: 

  • What does he / she see or hear in this tableau?
  • What emotions does he / she feel? 
  • What other sensory information is he / she subject to?
  • What is he / she thinking?  Are these thoughts past, present or future?

You might also find the Picnic Exercise useful to maximise the use of the tableau activities.


Expect the unexpected activities: Time for tea

  • Watch our short film (below) which includes the exploration of materials and props, storytelling and sharing memories, and some footage of the meditative jasmine tea exercise.

All photography provided by Vivi Stamatatos and Vonalina Cake

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