About my research
My name is Cath Heinemeyer, and I am a storyteller. Since October 2013, I am also a PhD student, researching storytelling with adolescents, as part of the iCAN centre (International Centre for Arts and Narrative) jointly based at York Theatre Royal and York St John University. The research has been funded as a Collaborative Doctoral Award by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
I don't think any other PhD would ever have tempted me to return to full-time academia after seven years as a freelance educator and storyteller - but then it's not just the academic world this one is requiring me to inhabit. It's a practice-based PhD - meaning that my practice as a storyteller is my research, leads my research, or is the main source of my research (depending on the day).
Thus I spend much of my time in secondary schools, youth clubs, community arts groups and other settings where young people come together, telling them stories, teaching them storytelling games, hearing their own stories in return. It's the reflection on this experience that brings up 'noticings', the process of articulating those things which a practitioner comes to 'know'. These are, of course, fed by my reading about other people's work, and all this in turn leads me off into other directions, different ways of telling stories, different ways of inviting responses from young people.
My supervisors (both at the Theatre and University) and I hope that, within the lifetime of the PhD (now until late 2016), we can develop youth storytelling in York and beyond. The storytelling 'revival movement' has touched many children and many adults, but relatively few teenagers. This gets to the heart of what storytelling is about in a contemporary setting - what are the forms of storytelling that 'work' for teenagers, and what does storytelling do for them?