Nervous: 1001 Stories to Save Your Life (2019/20)

‘Nervous:1001 Stories to Save Your Life’ was a project conceived by Unlimited founder Clare Duffy that went through a year’s development before the global COVID19 pandemic shut down so much of everyone’s work. ‘Nervous…’ was one of many projects by artists all over the world that couldn’t be resuscitated. This is how Clare and her collaborator Maryam described it…

By Clare Duffy and Maryam Hamidi

Nervous… is about what stories we’re forced to tell when we encounter power; we’re exploring the power of stories; why do we need stories and how many, many, many stories make the abuse of power not only possible but normal?

Nervous… aims to integrate 360 dome projection and live performance to explore the relation of an audience to the way the story is told. We’re going to integrate true stories about people who challenge or trick power to survive, with a re-telling of the framing story of Scheherazade, who told a 1001 stories over 1001 nights, to save her life and the life of every other virgin in the Kingdom.

We always thought it was strange that these Christmas ‘family favourites’ in the UK had to be framed by the rape and murder of 1095 women. We always thought it was strange that this tale of violent misogyny was so normalised, so ‘cute’. It made us angry. So we wanted to re-frame this framing story and in the process ask some big questions about how power uses stories to control us.

We’re still in early stages, and we know how ambitious we are being. We’ve basically written a feature film to be shown in a 360 dome, with live actors interacting with the audience and with the film. We don’t know yet how many of the things we’ve been dreaming up will come true. We completed the next stage of development with Jamie Wardrop and 4PI in February 2020 and plan to re-visit development again in 2021. Watch this space.

<and then immediately after that stage of development the global COVID19 pandemic happened and so Nervous went unmade>

Image credit: Matt Wright