The art of gathering stories

My name is Ruth Stevenson and I am a professional researcher with expertise in research methods and social issues.  I was delighted to join the Couldn’t Care Less team to guide a consultation with real people which underpinned the play.

My role was varied, involving policy review, designing and setting up surveys for carers and people who had been cared for, planning and being involved with interviewing carers, and setting up an evaluation form for the play’s audience.  I used all of these methods to gather together information which fed ideas directly into the devising process, ensuring that the play was based on genuine stories and experiences.

It was a real privilege to hear the stories of real people who had experienced the caring relationship, and to find out how difficult and sad and complicated and occasionally darkly funny the experience can be.  I was particularly struck by the stoic way in which people approached this – basically getting on and making the best of things.

It was wonderful to see the play come together at various stages, and I was lucky enough to see a very early version as well as a work in progress version at the North Edinburgh Arts Centre which was performed as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.  Response to the work in progress version was overwhelmingly positive and a lively audience discussion took place afterwards.

For me, it was a totally new experience to see my research turned into something creative – and I loved it!  Often you do research, you write a report, and maybe later down the line you notice that the organisation that you did it for changed something or did something new.  Being part of the Couldn’t Care Less devising process meant that I was able to provide something practical and within days see it turned into a play.  And even more exciting, I could sit in the audience and spot bits and pieces and identify where they came from – remembering that ‘she said that in the interview’ or ‘he wrote that in the survey’.  It was a moving play, and knowing first hand that it was real and having met some of the people that it was based on made it all the more moving to watch.

I’m not really a creative person myself, well not in the theatrical sense of the word anyway, so being able to get involved with something like this was a genuine pleasure.

Ruth Stevenson, Research Consultant

You can follow Ruth’s Blog here:  http://ruthlessresearch.wordpress.com/

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One thought on “The art of gathering stories

  1. Pingback: Read my guest blog at Couldn’t Care Less (The art of gathering stories) | ruthlessresearch

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