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In a live puzzling out of complex matters, a rediscovered collection of letters from the 1940s catalyses a dialogue between then and now. Collective and personal histories collide as we (re)consider and (re)configure the stories we tell and the things we inherit.

Stories of the Present War is a durational performance project and installation by Becka McFadden and Beautiful Confusion Collective, inspired by a collection of letters written by her grandparents during WWII.

"Discovering these letters by accident, in my mother’s garage, I began reading and re-reading them at a time when I found myself increasingly distressed and anxious about current geopolitical events - Brexit, Trump, climate change, and now the pandemic - all communicated via a relentless 24-hour news cycle. In this project, I look to the letters for historical perspective and insight into what it was like to live in a time of global conflict. At the same time, and on a more personal level, the discovery of the letters brought me into close contact with my grandparents’ relationship and the bold decisions of their youth that sometimes feel irreconcilable with the older adults I knew.

The title of the project comes from a letter in which my grandmother described a film she had seen as “a story of the present war”. I’ve made it plural here to express the multiplicity of wars we are always waging in one way or another, whether large or small, visible or invisible.

I invite you to join me as I sift through my own experiences and those of my grandparents. Let’s see what emerges."

“A captivating piece…” - The Norwich Radical


Concept, performance: Becka McFadden

Photography: Becka McFadden & Paul Wade

Dramaturg: Mary Ann Hushlak

Czech translations, blogging: Eva Daníčková


Available for touring as an installation or durational performance. Also available for digital presentation as a durational digital installation or as one or more 45-minute live-streamed episodes. Visit the project site to learn more.

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