Story Lab 2013: The Lab Wrap


From 2-6 December 2013, 17 theatre makers from across the country came together to develop their ideas and processes at Griffin’s Story Lab. 

Workshop with media artist Bambang N Karim.

Story Lab 2013 participant Natalie Holmwood shares her experience of Griffin’s week-long workshop, and tells how the Lab prodded, provoked, and pushed her to find her voice again.

Griffin’s Story Lab 2013 was like a strong vacuum in a room full of cobwebs, if the room was my mind and the vacuum was six amazing days full of rigorous creativity. Seventeen artists from across Australia came together for six days at both the SBW Stables and Casula Powerhouse. We brought along our ideas for shows we wanted to develop, some of which were still in the seeding stage, others ready to go into production.

Story Lab 2013.

Looking around the room it was amazing to see the diversity of the artists involved, from our background and age, to our craft and the stories we wanted to tell. Over the ten years that I have been involved in theatre I have realised that I can all too easily limit my thinking so that it moves along one narrowly prescribed path. The Story Lab at Griffin made me realise anew that there are so many ways to present your work. It was an invigorating, challenging, provoking and inspiring experience that took us across a plethora of performance and possibilities for our projects.

Kristin Alford showed us a vision of our future and the possible places we could end up as a society – a world without bus drivers and meals of vat-grown meat. We then moved onto digital landscapes and the role emerging technologies could play in performance, featuring a guest panel of three remarkable men who do things with technology that amazed me and made my brain hurt at the same time. We then finished things off with a trip to the weird and wonderful gender-bending stylings of Sisters Grimm and their latest production, Summertime in the Garden of Eden. And that was just the first day.

Story Lab 2013.

Over the next five days we worked with and heard from a variety of amazing artists each of whom excel in their fields. This included a tour of local weeds with Diego Bonetto, dramaturgy with Jane Bodie, and an artist talk with Khaled Sabsabi. Throughout we were led to a deeper place of consideration of our own work with Bambang Karim, Raimondo Cortese, Lee Lewis, and our amazing and passionate facilitator Alicia Talbot, all of whom led us to ask the tough questions of our own work: what do we really want to say and what are some new and different ways to say it.

As a young artist it is difficult sometimes to define your style or you lose it along the way. Story Lab helped me find my voice again, be inspired by some truly incredible theatre, and overall made me excited about the future of performance in Australia. Just by looking at the sheer creativity and passion in the room over those six days I realised that Australian theatre is in for one hell of a ride. 

Story Lab: Class of 2013.

Natalie Holmwood, December 2013 

Photos by Andy Ko.