2023 It’s Criminal project with The Ferret and Greater Govanhill magazine

In 2023, the Contemporary Narratives lab partnered with The Ferret and Greater Govanhill magazine to create a new Glasgow-based participatory journalism-meets-theatre project exploring how stereotypical crime reporting can negatively impact neighbourhoods and communities, and how that can be reimagined.

The project is led by Rachel Hamada and brought together a group of people with direct experience of the criminal justice system and with people from communities often scapegoated or blamed for crime. In the summer, It’s Criminal participants put on a live collaborative journalism show at The Tron theatre in Glasgow to present their findings. The Greater Govanhill magazine also ran a piece exploring the issues.

This project is supported by City University of London’s Higher Education Innovation Funding Knowledge Exchange.

Read more about the intention behind the project, and a summary of the performance.

2021 HOME/CARE project with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Coney

In early 2021, the Contemporary Narratives Lab embarked on its second project, bringing together interactive theatre-maker Coney and the Health Inequality team at Bureau Local, part of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The project is funded by a research grant from City, University of London.

Unlike our previous pilot project, this partnership between Coney and the Bureau took over a longer ten-week period to create opportunities for sustained dialogue and collaboration. Both parties aim to use the opportunity to work with the public, reporting with rather than on people affected by changes to home care during the pandemic.

As part of their investigations, the Bureau runs “Open Newsrooms” — one-hour online events that are open to the public, sometimes led by panelists, to allow everyone to delve deeper into a topic area. For this project, Coney designed an “After-Party” experience that allowed participants to reflect on, and share with each other, what they learnt during the Care in a Time of Crisis Open Newsroom.

The investigation has already yielded an exclusive story delving into the true number of deaths amongst home care recipients in England and Scotland during the pandemic.

To accompany and build on the reporting in the article, Coney created a digital storytelling tool to help people document their perspective and circumstances. We hope this might form the beginning of a self-sustaining community, and for individuals and the families of those who receive assistance, who believe they’re invisible, to feel acknowledged.

At the conclusion of the project, Dr Glenda Cooper wrote a full research report on HOME/CARE. That report is available as a downloadable PDF here.

2018 pilot project with the Financial Times, People’s Palace Projects and the Battersea Arts Centre

In June 2018, The Contemporary Narratives Lab carried out a pilot project that commissioned five groups of artists and journalists to work on stories emerging from the journalists’ investigations and articles.

The project was a partnership between the Financial Times, People’s Palace Projects, Queen Mary University of London, and the Battersea Arts Centre to explore the future of storytelling through digital and performance means. It was funded by a research grant from Queen Mary University’s Humanities and Social Science collaboration fund.

After just four days of development and rehearsal, the five sets of artists presented their works-in-progress, which all explored how theatre, performance and journalism can come together to spark curiosity and create meaningful experiences, to a live audience of 40 people at the Battersea Arts Centre.

Click below for more information about each of the works: