INTERVIEW: Degna Stone | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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How many lies have you told today? Were they life-changing deceptions or harmless white lies? Who decides which one is which?

These are among the questions posed in poet Degna Stone’s latest work The Lies, which is performed at Alphabetti Theatre this month. Focussing on the relationship between a parent and child, Stone challenges audiences to consider the way we weave lies into our everyday life, and what happens when we must confront the truth.

We see lies as a necessary way to navigate the world,” says Stone. “There’s a comfort in it – we all agree that certain things are true. With this piece, I wanted to look at what happens when we have to let go of the lies. How does that pan out in our political systems? What lies will we tolerate about the way our society operates?”

No stranger to tackling the darker complexities of life in their work, Stone says they’re aware of just how far-reaching and heavy the subject of truth can be. “I’m currently doing a PhD and part of that is looking more closely at the legacies of empire, and engaging with those subjects honestly can’t really be done without going into the idea that there’s more than one theory of truth. So, truth isn’t just something that is true. It all gets very muddy!”

The Lies gets to the heart of family relationships, where white lies are commonplace and even expected. “I’m still trying to reconcile the whole tooth fairy thing and how long it went on in my family. It’s so difficult when you have that moment, that opportunity to tell the truth but you don’t know how. These moments are probably much smaller in your child’s mind than they are in yours, but you build it up into something that’s going to cause irreparable damage!”

I wanted to look at what happens when we have to let go of the lies. How does that pan out in our political systems? What lies will we tolerate about the way our society operates?

So, should we have a blanket ban on make believe? Stone says not. “There’s an idea that lies are a way of protecting or shielding people, and as parents we can’t tell children everything so we use magical beings like the tooth fairy and Father Christmas to make things more comfortable. We dress up these lies as the magic of childhood, but maybe we need to explore ways of bringing that magic and wonder without relying on myths, and instead take steps to create a world we don’t have to shield our children from.”

And listening to them talk, it’s clear that creating pieces like The Lies is Stone’s way of taking those steps. With an obvious passion for community and connection, their belief in the power we all have to affect change could instil hope in the bleakest cynic. “In our lives, we feel quite powerless politically. We can’t trust politicians; we can’t trust big business; but if we take it back to a personal level we do have power. We may not be able to make huge changes in the way that systems operate, but we can choose how we interact with them.

It’s about finding the small things in your own life that will have a positive impact on your family, and your community.”

The Lies takes place at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle from Tuesday 23rd May-Saturday 10th June.

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