Research as Fiction: “The Return of Rufus Stone” by Kip Jones

Posted on 23. Dec, 2013 by in Uncategorized

A four-year research project at Bournemouth University, “Gay and Pleasant Land?—a study about positioning, ageing and gay life in rural South West England and Wales”, took place as part of the Research Councils UK-funded New Dynamics of Ageing Programme on ageing in 21st Century Britain. The key output of this effort was the short professionally made, award-winning film RUFUS STONE1. I acted as Project Lead and Author and Executive Producer for the film. The research project’s methods included narrated biography, visual ethnography, auto-ethnography, focus group work and theatrical improvisation of interview data.

In the process of refining the treatment for the film, the Director (Josh Appignanesi) and I faced several obstacles revolving around plot. If the premise was that Rufus would return to his boyhood village after 50 years in exile, there needed to be a reason for that journey backed up by research to support it.Subsequently, I returned to the interview data for more detail (‘evidence’) to support the reasons (‘theory’) for the return of Rufus Stone. I further explored and elaborated both Rufus’ story as a lad and his decision-making as an adult, always constructing these ‘facts’ from stories which were told to us whilst carrying out the research.

Both the film and this short story are fiction, or what I prefer to call ‘fictive reality’. Fictive reality is conceived as the ability to engage in imaginative and creative invention while remaining true to the remembered realities as told through the narrations of others. Several, in fact, may recount a similar incident. When these reports are combined into one person’s story or a “composite” character, a “fiction” is born (Jones, 2013).

By returning to this material to write “The Return of Rufus Stone”, I am creating a ‘prequel’ to the film RUFUS STONE. It is a reworking and refinement of those early writings. By becoming a short story, it fine-tunes the detail by focusing on the reasons for Rufus’ return as literature. Rufus Stone’s reappearance in his boyhood village after 50 years of exile sets up the possibilities for the characters to remember, reassess and even potentially change. This short story explains how that journey became possible.

Read the story here

1 A screening of RUFUS STONE will be featured as a Special Event in the Frontiers Stream of the BSA Annual Conference at Leeds University, 24 April 2014 at 12:30 p.m.


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