The Tamara of Storytelling

Boje, D.M. 2001, Narrative methods for organizational & communication research, Sage.

I started reading this yesterday and I can’t say I understand 80% of it as yet.  I’m back in the time where you read and read and read, and only when you’ve read enough does something ‘click’ in your brain and it all makes sense.  At the moment I’m lost in a wormhole of postmodern deconstruction and grand narratives.

But even when I am lost,  few things jump out.

The first is the concept of ‘Tamara storytelling’.  Boje uses the play Tamara to illustrate a different way of narrative construction.  According to wikipedia (that irrefutable resource – jk):

In Tamara, the barrier between spectator and actor has been dissolved; the spaces intermingle, and spectators become actors on many stages. Tamara is postmodern theatre performed in a large house with ten actors performing simultaneous scenes in several different rooms; at other times there is simultaneous action in eleven rooms. The spectator can accompany the character of their choice and experience the story they choose, knowing that with the simultaneous performances they cannot experience the whole play. Thus the members of the audience make a series of choices, and depending upon these choices, each spectator creates and develops an individual viewing of it.

Boje, who incidentally is used as a reference in that article, says that the way the audience moves in an out of the action, in simultaneous rooms, is an analogy for storytelling within organisations.  The action is no linear, occurring on the main stage, but simultaneously happening in multiple points.  And to capture any narrative, or to attempt to, means listening to multiple voices.

This drew my thoughts to my interview plans, when the subject is to be interviewed about their leadership development, and then those around them are going to be interviewed to gain a different picture of how they developed as a leader.  In this case one key idea (how leaders are developed) is to be constructed from multiple narratives.

As I’m getting into a world that I know little about, these ‘aha’ moments are crucial to keeping me moving.