Workshop by Mikkel Flyvholm

This workshop emanated from a desire to create understanding and empathy by taking on someone else's story, in this way trying to understand the reality from which the story originates. If you know that something is based on a true story, then you experience it in a special way. What you experience in the video is that Evrim's story is first told by himself and then retold by the other two actors, where you are made to believe that it is their story. But how important is it that the person who ‘owns’ the story is also the one who narrates it? This has been the focal point which Mikkel has zoomed in on during this workshop.


In order to create a sense of security and trust, Mikkel chooses to let the participants talk about the previous day, from which you will always be able to remember something. They may choose something simple and thus take a small surface dive into each other and each other's everyday life. The somewhat lighter narratives can lead to deeper narratives. There are no requirements from Mikkel’s side with respect to the stories that are shared. The choice will be entirely and utterly up to the participants.


The video shows how Mikkel and the actors start laughing together. The laughter may help open up a space for a deeper conversation. Mikkel has an appreciative, cautious and sensitive way of being in the space with the three participants, which is expressed through his language and behaviour. Exposing one's vulnerability is always risky, but being vulnerable also expresses strength as the stories may reveal recognition. The vulnerability can thus be experienced as a strength that can move people closer to one another.


Evrim chooses to share a story about a hot dog stand, which is an everyday story where you do not initially understand the depth. It is as if he himself only discovers its profundity when he gets to the end of it. He is reflecting on why he was telling precisely that story, and how it brings up the loving words of Evrim’s mother. The moment he arrives there, he hits a spot that the others can take example from as it becomes a personal narrative that goes beyond the private.


As they begin retelling each other's stories, it seems effortless to take on another person's remembrances, and they are also surprised that they experience empathy and understanding in doing

so. The reason why this occurs may be that it is something that they themselves can relate to. In this way, it can create understanding both internally and externally.


If you do not know a story in advance, and you know you need to retell it, your attention will sharpen. You need to be fully concentrated on experiencing the other's mimicry, language and details as you have to embed the story into yourself if you are to share it with people who do not know it. It is reminiscent of old storytelling, where stories passed from one person to the next. When you need to remember, you use the body. In the absence of precise words, the body will remember actions that can bring the words to life. The physical mirroring lies ahead of the emotional understanding. When you make the memories physical, you will be able to recall them linguistically. This is similar to acting, as Mikkel says in the video. Remembering others' stories can be challenging if you do not dive into the text and gain an understanding of the sensory landscape. The understanding can produce weight and value as if experienced on your own body. Personal stories may be moving because they reproduce things from the vast hinterland: All the things that are not found in the text. If someone just says words without implicating the body, mind and emotions, it becomes irrelevant.


It is interesting to explore why it is more fascinating to hear a story that you experience as real rather than a fictional story. After all, the story you come up with will always come from something real. It may be that as human beings, we strive for a core of truth. I do not know if I am able to tell what a true story is. The moment you carve out a bite of reality as you do in documentary theatre, it will always be selected, framed and staged. Reality is created in the spheres between people when a person takes on a story and an audience experiences it as a piece of reality. Thus, something may be real without necessarily being true. As Moritz mentions in the subsequent reflection, this workshop can be considered as a space of opportunity, as we come closer to an understanding of each other's understanding of the real, diving into each other's stories. In this way, reality and truth are always negotiable.



We change the world when we walk in one another’s shoes: this idea of radical empathy. […] People understand one another by walking inside the language and inside the story of somebody else’s experience. […] The practice of learning someone else’s story well enough to retell it as your own builds an intimacy between the participants, and might spark a desire to do something more within [a] community. Elementally, it centers around the power of stories, the power of empathy, the power of trying to understand what it means to be someone other than yourself.(author, Colum McCann)