The 99 project is a theatre-based project of collaborative storytelling and staging that Geneviève Flaven designed for communities and organizations looking for mobilization, growth, revitalization or transformation.
Practically, the project aimed at writing and staging a new play with 99 characters inspired by the life stories of a community of people (city residents, members of an association, company staff etc. …). Participants work in small groups from storytelling to staging supported by professionals.
Drivers: creativity and collaboration
Each new play is made of 99 voices, inspired by real men’s and women’s stories, transformed by collaborative writing and staged by collaborative teams.
The 99 project offers participants a unique platform for creative expression (writing, acting, singing, dancing, etc..) to experiment without danger.
The whole project value collaborative work, diversity and accountability. It is driven by volunteers working in small groups coached by professionals and making autonomous decisions.
4 steps from storytelling to staging
Following interviews (1) with men and women about their life, a collaborative platform is open to write (2) snapshots inspired by their stories, and compose (3) and stage (4) the new 99 play. All participants work in collaboration in small and autonomous groups coached by professionnals. Open and agile, the process is easy to adapt to local constraints and priorities.
One concept with evolutionary purposes
Each project relies on the same structuring principles (documentary materials, collaborative work, strict formal writing constraints, staging with mixed artistic practices) but remained flexible in its local organisation. In other words, each project supports the priorities, concerns and constraints of the local production team that decides to take ownership of the concept.
This leads to different formats of production and different goals.
The project 99 Live Shanghai (2017) explored the question of identity, culture, relationships and loneliness in a global city. Collaborative storytelling involved hundreds of men and women from Shanghai while the production consisted of a series of lightweight performances with a group of 26 readers, dancers and musicians in different places of the city.
In 2018, 99 femmes in Nice gathered 50 women at Theatre National de Nice. Diversity and social inequalities were important topics and the art direction of the show combined storytelling, choreographic movement and choir.
As interviewing hundreds of people can take a long time, the 99 project collaborative writing platform can leverage on existing materials (such as records, pictures, testimonials etc..) as sources of inspiration for the short monologues. This is what has been have done with 99 Perfumes in Grasse (2019) inpsired by 140h of interview recordings found in the Museum Library.