From an early age I told stories to whoever would listen – I would convene an audience of plush animals and plastic figurines predictive of the path I would take as a performance-maker. It was important for me to tell stories and to reframe my experience, particularly of ill health and paediatric medicine, through re-enactment and fictionalised (re)membering. However, the space for my object-companions to listen was as equally important as one in which they too were in some way altered.
The ABMU & USW Storytelling for Health conference was a carefully curated and sensitively managed experience in a range of creative and inspiring places in Swansea. The focus of the conference was to bring together artists, academics and healthcare practitioners to share experiences, practices and knowledges around storytelling in health contexts. The impressive local and international attendance is a testament to the importance of the conversation that ABMU & USW facilitated and to the strength and breadth of storytelling as an effective instrument.
Policy makers heard first-hand accounts of the benefits of using storytelling in its broadest forms as part of a healthcare service. Emerging artists shared works with established practitioners and audiences spoke of the spirit of generosity throughout.
For me, the stories of change shared by healthcare practitioners and artists provided a particular kind of evidence that I felt confirmed the worth of the work I strive to make. As an artist it is not often that you see the effects of your work and the arts can appear ornamental. Yet performances from The Devils Violin, Eirwen Malin and Joseph Sobol, moved me in a way that I became altered, as a listener riding the voice, feeling my way through the dark experience of another. I will remember this conference as an experience of recognising the importance of story, of arts in health and of listening and take this commitment to the form with me as I create more solo performance and interactive works with paediatric patients.
Dino Rovaretti presented solo-show ‘This Could Be Us’ at the Storytelling for Health Conference 2017. For information see www.facebook.com/MissingBear