The Story 2010

The Story first happened at The Conway Hall on Friday, February 19th, 2010. It was a sell-out, and a great time was had by all. Some of the blog responses to the event are here. Some of the lovely photos people took are on Flickr.

Here are the list of speakers, and how we described them on the website before the event. They were even more awesome than we could have expected on the day…

Cory Doctorow needs no introduction, as he’s a brilliant sci-fi writer, copyfight activist, blogger and all round internet superhero. I’ve seen Cory speak many times, but I’ve never heard him read a story. So this is a really selfish way of rectifying this, and hearing one of the most interesting sci-fi writers of our time actually read a story, and not mention copyright once. I’m hoping he’ll wear a cape.

Jon Spooner is one of the co-founders of Unlimited Theatre, one of the most innovative theatre companies in the UK. I saw Jon perform Ethics Of Progress, an amazing monologue about the quantam entaglement, wonder and the potential for evil in technology. It was an incredible piece of storytelling, so I’ve asked Jon to come along and do something similar. He’s currently working with space scientists and primary school kids, so might bring a work in progress along from this work, which sounds fantastic.

Annette Mees is part of Coney, a group of really exciting writers, performers and artists who tell stories in strange and intrgiuing ways. They have just finished a run of A Small Town Anywhere at Battersea Arts Centre, which used game structures to tell a story about how political ideals threaten the communities of a small town. It sounded like an incredible, emotional experience, in which there was no ‘audience’, and everyone took part in telling the story. I’m looking forward to what Annette will come up with for The Story in Feb…

Tim Etchells is, quite frankly, a genius. I’ve loved his work since I was an Art student many years ago, and used to see his pioneering performance group Forced Entertainment at the Third Eye in Glasgow. His writing covers just about every medium you can think of, from theatre to books to installations to digital art work. I’ve worked with him on two projects – one using SMS, and one involving a bus-stop in Bradford, which gives you an idea of the breadth of his practise. But the reason I want him at The Story is not to do with his technical innovation, but because I think his writing captures the taste and texture of modern life in ways that are equally funny, shocking, poignant and heartbreaking. Very few other writers have the emotional impact that Tim does, and his work is filmic in its ability to subtly alter the way you look at the world around you. I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on the day.

Sydney Padua is an incredibly talented graphic artist who created a huge stir on the web recently with her brilliant series of strips imagining the adventures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. As well as being a fantastic artist and witty writer, she also works across 2D and 3D for films and television, most recently as one of the animators updating Ray Harryhausen’s epic animation for the forthcoming remake of Clash Of The Titans. Getting someone to talk about storytelling and graphic arts was one of my priorities, so I’m really pleased that Sydney can come along and talk about her work.

David Hepworth is a legend in the magazine industry, with an illustrious career spanning his early work on Smash Hits to running his own publishing company, Development Hell, responsible for the only two music magazines worth reading – Word and Mixmag. As well as this, he’s also a brilliantly witty blogger, broadcaster and podcast-er, and recently started a monthly story-telling evening in an Islington Pub called True Stories Told Live. We had a great drink last week to discuss what David could talk about at The Story, and I’m really eager to hear him on the day – he’s a fantastic raconteur and speaker.

Dr Aleks Krotoski has the great taste to live in my home-town, Hove, but that isn’t the reason I’ve asked her to speak at The Story. Many of you will know Aleks from her regular column on culture and video games for The Guardian, some of you might have seen her excellent talk on games and storytelling at last year’s Dconstruct conference, and you’re all about to see her present the BBC’s new history of the internet TV programme Digital Revolutions. Aleks is one of the most informed and witty writers and broadcasters in the UK on games and internet culture, and I’m really glad she can come along to The Story. She’s also just completed her PHD, so we should really call her Dr Alex from now on…

Kevin Slavin is the co-founder of Area/Code, a brilliant digital agency in New York who specialise in making strange and wonderous games for just about every platform you can think of. In particular, they make BIG GAMES that take over urban spaces and introduce playful storytelling into everyone’s lives. I’ve seen Kevin talk at a few events, and he is a visionary speakers on how technology and stories can transform our cities and re-engage us with our community. He’s spent quite a lot of time in Detroit recently, which is almost an failed state in itself, and has been thinking about how storytelling and play can change the very fabric of the city and lay the groundwork for further regeneration. I’ve asked him to tell us some stories about Detroit as it is, was, and might be in the future.

Kat Akingbade is the co-star of Channel 4’s recent psuedo-science busting project with Derren Brown – Science of Scams. In her videos, tweets and blogs, Kat has been spending the last few months trawling through the web for stories of weird phenomena, pseudo-science and other tall tales. Kat has serious scientific chops, including doctoral research in Biological Anthropology and Pharmacology, combined with journalistic experience at Nature and Radio 4. Kat will talk about the power of stories, belief and the scientific method, using her favourite scams to illustrate how the relationship between science and society often hinges on a well-told tale.

Tim Wright is one of the true pioneers of online storytelling. Working as part of the shadowy XPT corporation, he created Online Caroline, an early precursor of web dramas like LonelyGirl15, way back in 2001. He’s continued to experiment with storytelling, interactivity and the web, working on things like Telectrascope and the brilliant Kidmapper – a quixotic attempt to retrace the journey in Robert Louis Stephenson’s classic novel Kidnapped. Tim will talk about SWYWTH, a new project for Radio 4 about sectrets, relationships and whether writers ever really know what they’re doing.

Alexis Kennedy and Paul Arendt are the co-founders of FailBetter Games, and are currently occupying most of the people I know with their brilliant Twitter game Echo Bazaar. Unlike the simplistic storyworld of many social media games, Echo Bazaar is set in Fallen London, a brilliantly evocative and detailed alter-ego for the real city. I’m really pleased to have Alexis and Paul along for The Story, as they’ve created something of real substance and depth, and are getting a brilliant response from their players. I’m really keen to find out more about how they made it, how they run it, and what they’re doing next…

Livity are behind a number of really innovative projects, working with young people to produce magazines, blogs and interactive projects like Dubplate Drama. More recently, they established and run the Spinebreakers community for Penguin, engaging teenagers in reading, writing and talking about storytelling. I love the way that Livity sees their role as creating spaces and platforms for other’s stories, so I’ve asked them to think about how they can do that at The Story itself. I’m hoping they’ll bring along some of the readers and writers from their projects and will create something as inspiring and illuminating as their online and printed projects.

Stuart Nolan has been a professional performer, on and off, since the age of 18, and after 15 years being distracted by proper work, first as a cell biologist and then by digital media, he took the opportunity afforded by a NESTA Fellowship to focus on the design and performance of mystery. Since 2002 he has been running Designing Mystery workshops with performers, technologists, writers, media producers, and artists. He has also researched how teenagers respond to the mysterious and the magical in new technologies. He’s promising to going to talk about choice, risk, and reward by performing an effect that uses those themes. (possibly followed by a second effect if there is time). Believe me, you do *not* want to miss this…

Tony White is the author of many novels, including Foxy-T described by Toby Litt as ‘one of the best London novels you’ll ever get to read’. I agree, go read it – its fantastic. Tony was writer in residence at the Science Museum, London, and published a special free edition of his short fiction Albertopolis Disparu. He has published numerous works of fiction in collaboration with visual artists, edited and co-edited short story collections including Croatian Nights (Serpent’s Tail, 2005), and founded the samizdat imprint Piece of Paper Press in 1994. In 2009 Tony was Leverhulme Trust writer in residence at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Three new short stories from Tony White are available in EPUB format supported by the Leverhulme Trust for free download here.