A narratorium is a group of specific and organized spaces, within a community, which host personal stories that are exchanged directly, from one individual to another.
The Narratorium should be a place for experiencing storytelling first hand because there are many more qualities to a story than just the language that is typically spoken. In other words, when an individual exchanges a story with the populace, their very own physical characteristics, emotional expressions, and body language, are contributors to the participants overall sense of understanding.
An experience of my own, that will never be forgotten, was a story that was expressed to me, first hand, in the third grade. My teacher's father, who had served in the Second World War, visited our classroom and shared with us a piece of his own life. As he told the tale, collectively we were able to construct a deeper sense of understanding, about the meaning of experienced events, simply because he was present. We also came to see and understand the reason for the vivid lines that laid creased upon his face, and that they were likely to have been the characteristics that his body had taken on partially due to this very story and the years of experience in this world. However the most meaningful aspect of the storytelling was the emotion that came over him as he spoke and the impact that it had on me. This reactive emotion is what makes storytelling real, and allows the participants to gain a deeper understanding, with which they can grow from as well as share with the world.
In order to design a Narratorium, which is about the human-to-human exchange of stories, there must be three types of spaces made readily available.
First, there must be a space that allows for a moderately large audience to attend a storytelling. This room will seat roughly forty-five people, and allow the participants an up close and personal experience with the storyteller. The viewers within this room will all be seated on large, movable seating planes that can be maneuvered and stacked in such a way, to feature the current storyteller or event. Therefore the storyteller will be able to walk and talk within the void that the seating provides. The atmosphere of the main space will emphasis on the use of natural light from altered wall planes.
The secondary room will be situated on the second floor of the structure. This space will hold a slightly smaller group of participants, roughly twenty, and therefore it will be slightly less formal. The seating, by itself, will communicate the relative closeness and relationship to the storyteller, which will be a series of recesses in the floor plane. These recesses will not only act as steps for the storyteller to reach his or her destination at the center or the lowest plain, but as seating for the viewers and participants. Also behind the storyteller will be a series of sliding planes that will open and close to feature storytelling in the main space or to accommodate the seasons’ lighting. This frames the storyteller and acts a backdrop. To the left of the seating arrangement will be a void in the floor plane; this will allow a visual connection to the café as well as auditory connection. The acoustics from each room will be divided be sliding planes while storytelling is taking place in the secondary space.
Above the secondary storytelling space will be a space called the view deck. The view deck will be located on the third floor along with the resident storyteller’s residence. The view deck will allow the public to stand an look down upon the storyteller in the main space, this provides more space in order to accommodate a larger audience.
Next will be an area in which individuals from the everyday public can come in and share their stories with one another. The wall that dissects the cafe, down the center, will act a privacy wall. On the more casual side, which is the one that can be seen by the street, is a space that will allow for several groups of two or, to gather. Meanwhile, on the other side of the dissecting plane, there will be a slightly more formal area for a more concentrated storytelling. Also in this space of the coffee shop, there will be a void in the ceiling plane. This connects to the one located in the secondary storytelling space and lends the feeing of a double height. space that The café will be accessible only from the Narratorium lobby and from the cafe patio. The patio will literally be an extension of the coffee shop during the warmer summer months of the year. This area will serve the same purpose as the interior cafe space, aiding in process of public storytelling.
Lastly, the lobby, as mentioned earlier, is a space that all three of Narratorium spaces can be accessed from. This will provide one of two entrances for the café. It will also be the only entrances for the main space, the secondary space, the resident space and the view deck. In addition to functioning as a circulation hub, it will also serve as a place for information, and meet and greets. The information that is given here are the dates and times of the current tellings as well as the up and coming events that will be taking place in the Narratorium. The meet and greets will allow the public to talk with a storyteller, either the resident storyteller or a featured storyteller. They will have a chance to perhaps tell their stories in an open forum style conversation. This area further enforces the concept of establishing an emotional connection, among humans within diverse societies, through the experience of physical expression and personable storytelling.
As for the specific activities that will take place within the Narratorium, they are as follows and begin with the main Narratorium.
This main storytelling space is where the resident storyteller will be featured as well as other professional storytellers, and these can be of any human-to-human storytelling form. The setup allows for a very concentrated viewing of the storyteller, which in turn will allow the storyteller to perform with minimal unwanted distractions. This will prove to be a space for very personable performances.
The smaller less formal balcony spaces will appropriately accommodate a smaller name within the storytelling field, perhaps an aspiring storyteller, which can share his or her talents with the city. This space will also be a place that is more child friendly and will host many of the children’s activities that take place within the Narratorium.
Within the cafe, there will be a very casual setting in which groups of individuals from the general population can come in and share stories with friends and/or strangers. This space will also be open late into the evening, after the storytelling in the main Narratorium space have concluded, providing a space to gather afterward to talk about their experience.
Throughout the duration of a day an individual who is visiting can enjoy many different performances. In the morning the lobby will open early, thus allowing individuals who are on their way to work to come in and possibly share a cup of coffee and a story with someone as well as check the times and dates of the up and coming events. As the day continues the main and secondary performance spaces will open. The open balcony space will be available to non-professional storytellers and their talents, who will have the chance to share their stories with school children on field trip occasions or with the general public. The main space during the day hours will have educational performances for children to visit on field trips as well as smaller storytellings that may appeal to the mature audience. In the evening, the secondary spaces will begin to close and the main performance space will feature story telling until the later evening times. The coffee shop, in response to the main performance space, will stay open quite late. This will allow individuals to experience stories well into the evening and then utilize the coffee shop as a place to share stories of their own, possibly related to what they just participated in.
For the public, the activities will change seasonally with the act of bringing in a new resident storyteller. Some of the more mild changes will include cultural celebrations and performances.
Yearly, however the program will change according to the season and the change of weather. The change from winter, to spring, to summer will increasingly allow the amount of activities that can take place on the outdoor café patio. Also, allowing the individuals in the coffee shop to spill out into the outdoor space and enjoy the weather, and coffee.
“Establishing an emotional connection, among humans within diverse societies, through the experience of physical expression and personable storytelling.”