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We invited four women who live in Exeter, who are originally from other countries (Italy, France, and Syria), to play CircleTales, a new collaborative story-making game, with the idea of turning the final story into a dramatic performance that could be either a play or a video.

There were a lot of unknowns when we started: What would the story be like? What ideas would be generated through the drama exercises? How would we convey the richness of language and cultural background of each of the participants? What form would our final performance take?

The story created by the four participants playing CircleTales together was truly epic: a real heroine's journey, which spurred lots of conversation about the imagery, archetypes, and the unfolding of a shared imaginative landscape. 

In the drama session, we explored proverbs in our own languages, devised an improvised skit carrying forward the themes of fire, being in circle, nature, connection between women, and even created an original song thanks to the expertise of Valentina Todino, one of the participants, which became the theme music for the final piece.

What surprised us all was how naturally the story emerged, fully formed, and how the proverbs, song, and spirit of collaboration, inspired genuine feelings of creative energy and connection between us.

Yalla Arts, founded by Aqeel Abdulla, is a participatory community theatre company based in Exeter that provides a safe space for participants from diverse cultures to share their stories, deepen their sense of themselves as creative individuals, and develop theatrical work in community

Exeter City of Literature




A collaboration between CircleTales and Yalla Arts with Giorgia Ferrari, Maisaa Sweid, Valentina Todino, Marie Trinchant.

Running time 21 minutes

Part 1 dramatisation 13 minutes

Part 2 behind the scenes 8 minutes

Exeter joins 65 cities across the world who have become part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. The compact commissions selected CircleTales and Yalla Arts, a community theatre company, as one of the10 finalists that represented a Devon-based project connecting literature and the creative industries while reflecting the city's cultural diversity. 




Storytelling for Healing with Special Guest Sandhya Dave

In this storytelling workshop Sandhya delved into the psychology of telling stories and how collaborative storytelling is especially vital now, in our time of polarities, as a means of revitalising community connection and embracing diversity and inclusion. Participants had the opportunity to share and reflect on their own storytelling experiences. Sandhya is an experienced storyteller, Shiatsu Bodywork Practitioner, Gestalt psychotherapist, and a diversity/anti-racism consultant based in Devon, UK. Her deep commitment to social justice, education, and dialogue offers valuable insights into the therapeutic function of storytelling.

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