Isolated in an unfamiliar place, young wife Susan finds herself the keeper of an unspeakable secret. The way her only neighbour looks at her is ‘the worst thing in the world’. One day, startled by his unexpected arrival, she reluctantly offers him some tea…

Here, WCN Programme Assistant Florence Reynolds reveals a chapter from The Story Machine – ‘The Quiet by Carys Davies – and how the story will be brought into a staged presence.

It’s a feeling we all know to one degree or another – the feeling of being watched and interpellated by another’s glance, the imposition of the gaze, the exposure of being seen. This is a story that will make the hairs on the back of your neck prickle and your heart pump quicker. But Carys Davies does something extraordinary, turning the story almost imperceptibly from threat to a moment of empathy that changes everything.

So what happens? Well, I’ll leave you to find out for yourself as you make your way through the interlocking worlds of The Story Machine. Suffice to say that in ‘The Quiet’, it’s our bodies that bear our histories, that tell the truth of who we are and what we need. For this reason, I felt that the physical language of dance would be the most authentic way to bring the story into a staged presence.

a story that will make the hairs on the back of your neck prickle and your heart pump quicker

This felt like a great brainwave on the train after a long day, somewhere in the limbo of the pitch-black Fens – not so different from the remote setting Susan finds herself in. The next day I remembered that I knew nothing about dance, nor even any dancers, and that we only had a matter of weeks to make the performance a reality. Luckily Sam Ruddock, like some Willy Wonka of the literature world, took my vague proposition and ran with it. He contacted Sarah and Laura of Glass House Dance Company, who instantly understood the intricacies of the story: “It’s about bringing an extra layer to the text to create a movement vocabulary of and between the dancers. It’s a real opportunity for Writers’ Centre Norwich and Glass House to create something completely original.”

The Story Machine will take place on 17 & 18 May at St Mary’s Works, Norwich. Buy tickets now.

For more about Carys Davies, visit the International Literature Showcase website.