4 October 2020 / Grants and Awards
Another Slice of Pie
Magdalena Mosteanu received one of our Covid-19 Support grants towards creating a website for her project Easy As Pie. Here she writes at length about the research and practical work that went into it.
The Easy as Pie project, placed at the intersection of theatre and performance studies, storytelling and the digital medium, strives to achieve an understanding of cross-cultural contact and perhaps offers a practical approach to cross-cultural communication.
Food storytelling is only one of the multiple ways to approach the issue of cross-cultural contact, but one which signifies a potential common frame of reference within which people may communicate openly. Employed in the effort to bridge the gaps of cultural differences, food storytelling takes on the role of a mediator, a go-between, an agent facilitating engagement with the Other.
In the Easy as Pie project, the forging of the social relations with others is multidirectional: first, there is the relation between the participant and the facilitators. Second, the relation between the participants is revealed as they devise and work towards dramatizing and sharing stories in a collaborative effort. Finally, the recorded stories are presented to the wider public, and therefore the relationship between the tellers and the anonymous audience of the Easy as Pie online installation is commenced. Each act of devising, telling and listening bears a potential for the new ties, new channels of communication to be developed. The question of theatrical capabilities of creating such new channels and bridging cultures is indeed, at the heart of this project.
By employing theatrical methods, three creative workshops were designed and took place in July 2019 at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, asking the following question:
Does food storytelling have the capacity for creating innovative channels of cross-cultural communication?
The workshops aimed to engage the participants in devising and sharing their stories related to food and migration whilst introducing in the creative process the MERL’s collections. As a result, participants explored the museum’s exhibition as well as the herbal garden and original kitchen space of the building and drew inspiration from the spatial setting, sounds and objects of the museum. These subjective observations served as starting points for devising the autobiographical stories and proved especially productive. In fact, one of the participants in an answer to a question from a feedback form ‘What was the most interesting part of the workshop?’ said: Having everyone’s stories pulled from memories triggered by objects in the museum.
The STR Covid19 support grant has enabled us to create an online installation: a website where the stories are displayed and shared with a wider audience. Amongst the audio recorded stories (with the music compositions by Jack Webb) devised by participants from Algeria, Romania, Ukraine and England, the Easy as Pie online installation invites the audience to engage with the artwork documentation of the workshops created by Tom Pearce. There are also sections on Research and Creative Writing by Lauren Morley, which unpick the process of creating food stories and the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of devising such work.
Thanks to its online presence, the Easy as Pie project is now looking at engaging with more museums and collections which may inspire more delicious stories.
Magdalena Mosteanu is a theatre practitioner based in London with a background in acting techniques and collaborative theatre-making. Particularly interested in cultural identities, narratives of migration and Practice as Research methodology. Magdalena’s research and creative practice is driven by cross-cultural encounters with theatre and performance practitioners, researchers and communities. She is a member of the Peeling Onions with Granny Artist Collective, a participant in European training programme FREEWAY for theatre operators, and an independent theatre-maker. As an Early Career Researcher Magdalena presented her research at TaPRA PGR Symposium 2018, Oxford University; Coventry University 2017 Conference on Achievement and Diversity; Sharing Space Symposium 2018 at Queen’s University, Belfast, TaPRA 2019 Conference, University of Exeter, JAM 2020 Conference, University of Reading.