Narrativium Project I: Stories from the future

We running an Arts Council-funded project in partnership with mac birmingham. Three artists recruited through Ideas Tap will create public performances of ‘stories from the future’ in the autumn of 2014.

Family_treeKeith and Ellie Richards have written four contrasting scenario stories based on the New Optimists Forum work with regional scientists. Each is about different members of five generations of a fictional Birmingham family (see the family tree, right). These scenarios are:

  • Jason’s tree
    On the anniversary of Jason’s death, members of his community have decided to celebrate his life and achievements by planting a tree in his allotment. His son Cal has been asked to make a speech about his father’s life.
  • The answer’s shit
    Medley lives in the sinks and makes a bit of money on the side by trading in waste which she collects from ‘customers’ outside her estate or finds lying around. One of her regular suppliers has passed on to her some high quality industrial plastic which technically belongs to one of the companies who have the rights to all high-grade waste. When this is spotted in her barrow by a police officer, she is taken into custody. This scenario story is set in the police interview room.
  • Where’s Granpops?
    he family are gathering for the funeral of Kevin, who has died at the age of 100. Since cremation is no longer a legal option (for environmental reasons), all bodies are buried in biodegradable coffins either on land identified for that purpose, or in approved ‘cultivable sites’ requested by the next of kin. Kevin’s family have chosen the latter and his coffin has been placed at the front of the hall where his burial service will take place. Melanie has arrived early with her children, Dahlia and Jez, and is awating the arrival of her husband, Cal and other daughter, Athena. Dahlia is puzzled by the size of the coffin.
  • For what we’re about to receive
    It is 2150 and Kit, an academic at a university in Birmingham, is preparing a paper on family food production and consumption in 2050. Online resources are now unimaginably vast, taking various forms (e.g. ‘cloud’ and ‘skyware’). Although sophisticated search engines are available, their use requires an expert. Kit has called in Mina to help her track down data she can use for her paper. This story takes the form of e-communication exchanges between Kit and Mina about extracts from Athena’s diary.

Working under the direction of Graeme Rose, the three artists will be working as a collective. They’ll explore these scenario stories. Using their own choice of media, they will then create a chunk (or chunks) of “narrativium” – a public performance inspired by these future possibilities . . . viewed by an audience in the here and now.


  • Keith and Ellie’s stories are also published here, along with background information about each one and suggestions for other activities.
  • More about the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project, and its impact on the city, can be found here.
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