Speaking Stones is an audio walking tour format for museums, currently being developed with the British Museum's Mesopotamian gallery.
Eight 5-minute audio stories, each inspired by a specific exhibit, bring to life a selection of Mesopotamian antiquities. Each object will be studied and researched by a professional dramatist, who will then craft a five-minute audio script in response.
Each story will be bespoke to the artefact, its meaning and history. Content might include an audio re-enactment of the scene the object depicts, the ritual within which it was used, or perhaps telling the story of its craftsman or owner. If appropriate, a story could focus on a later period in the object's long history, such as its excavation and journey to the Museum.
For a fully contemporary angle, a story might address issues of cultural property, and include contributions from modern day community focus groups with a particular stake in the object's source region and its heritage.
The audio mini dramas will be experienced via a QR code displayed next to the exhibit, for visitors to scan with their phones. The code links to the sound file, which audiences listen to on their own set of headphones.
New Histories is a participatory community project, taking place in British towns and cities in which a controversial historical statue from Britain’s colonial past can be found.
Through a participatory workshop format, theatre artists, historians, local communities, and young people, will come together to create a new place-based audio installation to be experienced in the square in which the statue is located.
New Histories is not a project solely about the history of the statue. This history may well feature, but the real aim is to empower citizens from all walks of life to offer alternative narratives in a space dominated by a single historical figure.
The workshop process examines not just the statue, but the space in which it stands, and will encourage sharing of memories and personal histories of that space, as well as reflections on the statue itself.
Community participants will be supported by professional writers and directors to write and perform their own stories to a professional standard, if they wish, or for our team to do so with their oversight, if they prefer. The process has some similarities with Applied Stories’ existing format Museum of Stories, currently being piloted in Luton.
In New Histories, the series of short audio dramas which emerge from the workshops will be uploaded onto a permanent audio bench positioned in the same square as the statue.
Passersby can sit and listen to a community audio installation of up to 15 minutes, inspired by that space and its statue.
New Histories does not make any recommendations or draw any conclusions about the statue's future. It aims instead to curate a permanent, shared community history, for a town and its people, from all walks of life, to come together to make their own mark on a public space belonging to them all.
Commission one of our Geocache audio trails for your outdoor space - gardens, grounds, woodlands or parks.
A geocache is an outdoor container whose coordinates have been uploaded and shared, usually using the Geocaching app, though we can also build one bespoke.
Placed in a series, a digital treasure hunt can be curated for any and all to take part. Geocaching invites physical participation with the environment, and is a little like foraging. In this case, one is foraging for stories amid the undergrowth.
Geocaching has been around a while, but took off during the pandemic as families and friends looked for free, safe outdoor activities during lockdown.
Unlike existing geocache trails, which usually just contain a scroll to add your name, an Applied Stories geocache contains a QR code linking to a specially-created audio file designed to be listened to in that precise location on the audience's own smartphone and set of headphones.
In this way, an Applied Stories geocache trail can animate your outdoor space powerfully, bringing its past to life, telling the story of key figures, or drawing attention to issues facing the natural world - with nature itself as the stage set.
One current geocache proposal for English Heritage, Border Stories, curates a series of trails along Hadrian's Wall, to celebrate its 1,900th anniversary. Each geocache box contains a personal item sourced via a participatory workshop process, in which the object has a dramatic story attached to it of having crossed a border. In this case Applied Stories will work with community groups directly, with an emphasis on partnering with refugee charities to source the items and their stories.
An Applied Stories geocache trail can suit any outdoor area, and in particular the gardens of country houses or other spaces with a history and story to tell, powerfully enhancing the visitor experience.