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Reform the Norm – the Story of Us: Live

An immersive evening of stories, poetry and music took place over the weekend (5 and 6 November), performed by a unique group of people whose voices are too often unheard, misunderstood or miscommunicated.

They had taken part in a ten-week training course to formulate their stories in creative ways and at The Story of Us: Live, they invited the audience into an intimate space designed exclusively by them inside Coventry’s Methodist Central Hall to hear them.

There is a story behind each of these chairs.

The Story of Us allows us all to see some of the key issues faced by Coventry people held up to the light; to hear the collective’s solutions and ideas for what must change; and consider why these people haven’t been invited to pull a chair up to the table before now so that their powerful stories may be heard in powerful places.

The original Story of Us training course was developed and delivered by Jude Habib, Sounddelivery founder, and produced by the Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Mismatched black chairs form a circle around a postcard with a drawing of a chair and sunflower and the words The Story of Us.
Credit: Coventry City of Culture Trust

Reform the Norm is made possible by funding from the Emerging Futures fund, successfully brought to Coventry by a close-knit partnership of local organisations working with some of the city’s most impacted communities by the pandemic. Click this link to read more.

The people who make up the collective were recruited by this partnership – Grapevine, Positive Youth Foundation, Central England Law Centre and Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre.

So we were especially pleased to be members of the live show’s audience and watch them shine.

An audience awaits the Story of Us performance in a church hall.
The audience awaits the performance

Grapevine CEO Clare Wightman, said: “This was the culmination of our Emerging Futures work with the National Lottery Community Fund and Sounddelivery.

“Reform the Norm in Coventry is underway! Thanks to the commitment and energy of creative producer Hannah Graham too.”

Two women smile as they hold a placard that reads 'Be brave, be bold, be fabulous'.
Jude (left) and Mel smile as they hold a sign that says ‘Be bold, be brave, be fabulous’

Mel Smith, Grapevine’s deputy CEO and Connecting for Good Cov movement project leader, said: “I was so looking forward to taking my seat, holding this space for the Story of Us collective and exploring possibilities together.

“I’m grateful for the storytellers and for those who have helped to dream up this work to Reform the Norm.”

Look out for further updates on Reform the Norm throughout Coventry City Culture. This work is part of our #ShiftingPower action strand at Grapevine.

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