Narration is the telling of a story. Narration is distinct from authorship as, in texts, the narrator is a figment of the author’s construct.

Narration in Narrative environment design

Stuart Jones writes:

Narration is one of the key areas where narrative environment design departs from narratology. Because narratology typically deals with texts, it is easy, in general, to distinguish between the narrator, as a figment of the author’s narrative approach, and the author per se. In narrative environment design, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, if we look at non-European, non-text-based forms of narration, already it is becoming hard to distinguish: 1) between diegesis and mimesis; and 2) between author and narrator.

In both Bunraku (Japanese Puppet Theatre) and Wayang (Indonesian Puppet Theatre), there is someone who narrates the story through a mixture of speech and performance of the voices of the characters. In both traditions, the stories are episodes from traditional legend and myth. However, in Bunraku the text is formalised in a version handed down through generations, whereas in the Wayang tradition the story, which will be an episode from the Ramayana or Mahabharata, retold, is embellished by the performer. Much of the audience pleasure is in hearing a familiar story renewed. This is also the case in the various traditions of storytelling in India, which will tell stories from the Ramayana or Mahabharata, usually through a mixture of accompanied speech and song, combined with vivid gesture and dance.

Bunraku video

Wayang video

In the above traditional styles a mixture of media (puppets, lighting, speech, gesture, music, song, dance) are used to tell the story. This relates clearly to narrative environment design where, typically, objects, space and media – graphical, time based, interactive, will all be used to tell the story (or stories).

It as also often the case that a Narrative environment will engage the audience in various levels and forms of participation which could include any or all of authoring, narrating and performing. In this case the space between author and narrator can become very blurred.