The Story of Nell Small (2018) 

The Story of Nell Small was performed twice on the opening night of the exhibition Please Come In And Leave at Centrespace Gallery, Bristol on Saturday 17 March. It was advertised in the gallery as a free 25 minute guided tour to tell the story of Nell Small, a medieval basketmaker. The performance was rooted in researched contextual historical and geographical fact. The story itself was asserted as fact but was fictional. What is propaganda and how does it work? What is the role of the group and the need to belong, in the forging of belief systems? The tour parties were used in an experimental performance to test the power of storytelling. Does it matter if a story is not true?

Photograph: Steve Norton

 "I invented most of it...  If I tell the [...] story often enough, I'll start to believe it myself. And that, I think, is the essence of my writing. I lie the truth. Until I no longer know whether something did or didn't happen. That's when it gets exciting. What you make of reality is infinitely more interesting than reality itself." 

The Four​th Man (1983), Dir. Paul Verhoven

Download a self-guided version of the tour.

© 2020 John Steed.