The Weir: Storytelling that Transforms
In this confusing age of definitive facts and expert opinions, The Weir’s profoundly affecting use of age old storytelling techniques helps create a unique space of trust, sharing, mutual regard, and engagement within the most unlikely of environments (a rural pub) and participants (4 middle aged introvert men and 1 introvert woman). Through the acts of telling stories and listening to others’ stories, the characters in The Weir become known both to others and to themselves. The effect of which is both sustaining and transformative.
We live in story, we act in story, and we remember in story; storytelling echoes our humanness. Story is a fundamental way in which we order our experiences. We tell a story of what happened recently or long ago. We retell and embellish another’s story. In some cases, our story is meant to unburden us, to explain concepts or to discharge emotions. And story can also serve to promote intimacy, as when two people exchange personal histories at the first stages of a developing relationship.
The Weir’s theme centres on the power of story to bring about a transformation, not only in the teller but also in the listener and in the space between them. Through each respective telling, its characters exemplify this power of story to transform, as well as to empower others similarly to tell their stories and so to find understanding and acceptance. The effect of the stories within The Weir are known to transfix and spellbind the audience. As one reviewer wrote:
“Some years ago, while in Dublin, I found myself in possession of a ticket to the Gate Theatre to see the first production in Ireland of The Weir. I sat entranced by the play and by the events that unfolded. As the curtain closed, I knew that I had witnessed the colossal power of story. It was breathtaking.”
The Weir teaches us a valuable lesson: a story untold is a life unlived. The more un-storied existence we can transform into experience, that is, and the more untold experience we are able to express, then the more powerfully and profoundly can our self-creation proceed: the more authority we have over the storying and re-storying of our own lives.
Without an informing idea, the details of real life are clutter, noise, chaos. We need an idea given form for things to make sense. And that’s what stories are: ideas given form, ideas given breath.
The Weir is a play of stories, and for this reason it is unique – for it is through stories that humans best understand what means to be human. Story, first plied from the lips of our parents and later lifted from the written page and from sacred stages, touches our emotions and engages our memory throughout our life. The Weir shows that stories have the force to burst through the dam of resistance and open us up to learning and understanding, even such that might transform and heal the soul.