Who Cares? Foreword

poster 008

Wednesday, September 23 at 7:00 Denton theatre, Acadia University, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Cheryl McLean

I am currently writing and directing the ethnodrama, “Who Cares” about caregiving, feeding family, love and survival….a preview will be held Sept. 23 at Denton theatre, Acadia University.

Ethnodrama is an art form, a type of qualitative playwriting based on true stories. Johnny Saldana, Professor of Theatre at Arizona State University’s School of Theatre and Film and a leader in North America in this emerging genre, has described ethnotheatre as a form which employs the traditional craft and artistic techniques of theatre to mount for an audience a live or mediated performance event of research participants’ experiences.  The ethnodrama itself is the written play script consisting of dramatized significant selections of narrative which may be derived from research data, interview transcripts, participant observation, field notes, newspaper articles, journal articles, oral history, etc.

In the case of the ethnodrama (preview) Who Cares? to be premiered  September 23 at Acadia University, a good portion of the research data was based on interviews conducted with caregivers by Dr. Catherine Morley, Assistant Professor in The School of Nutrition and Dietetics at Acadia and the Lead Researcher on this project who has extensively interviewed caregivers and family members exploring meanings of eating and changes with illness. I analyzed the interviews and reconstructed stories based on the data with a particular focus on reoccurring themes of importance, moments of crisis or discovery (epiphany), story elements within the lived experiences that would advance the action and theatrically illuminate meanings in a way that would be entertaining and aesthetically sound while being both evocative and memorable for an audience.

It is important to stress that although the ethnodrama is by its nature an adaptation of events, in my particular approach the dialogue/monologue content etc. is very close to verbatim preserving the meanings of what was conveyed, whether selected from interview transcripts or from newspaper articles, journals or other sources. Poetry and personal stories in this script have also been based on actual lived experience.

In keeping with the way performance ethnography has been described by Dr. Norman K. Denzin in the text, Performance Ethnography Critical Pedagogy and the Politics of Culture, cultural performances of this type are most often created to raise awareness about marginalized persons or issues that have largely been ignored within society. Ethnodramas become public pedagogy using the aesthetic, the performative to foreground the intersections of politics, institutional sites and embodied experience. Such performances are unique in that they are an embodied way of presenting research while artistically provoking change, presenting issues and questioning the status quo through story.  Read about the team and cast members

The title Who Cares? in this ethnodrama (preview)  refers to those who do care, the caregivers themselves and their stories, and yet the question challenges the prevailing cultural attitudes and policies regarding the aged and those (often family) feeding and supporting older persons in need. It is through these stories, these true accounts of caregiving experience, that those who are unrecognized , frequently “invisible” and marginalized in their unpaid work become visible. The title also raises the questions, Who should care? How can we democratically come together in the hopes of bringing about change which could affect quality of life for those in our care today and others who will surely need care in the future? It is not our purpose to provide a recipe for change nor to dictate the precise procedures for transformation, but rather to point the way toward hope, to illuminate the stories and create new spaces for possibility, discourse and innovation and critical thinking that may lead to change and solutions around caregiving and feeding family. To expand upon our research we will be collecting additional feedback from a panel discussion which will follow our preview ethnodrama.   This data will inform our work as we continue our plan to  develop  “Who Cares”  into a full length ethnodrama and proposed film.

Cheryl L. McLean, editor of the book Creative Arts in Humane Medicine (Brush Education)  and publisher of The International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice IJCAIP is a recipient of a Harrison McCain Visiting Professorship award,  and  writer/director, “Who Cares” an ethnodrama about aging, feeding family members, love and survival…..She is currently a Visiting Scholar at Acadia University, Nova Scotia.  Recently published, Cheryl L.  McLean, “Advancing Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice”, Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, Taylor and Francis  http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/PWmWUIqhQgMZtyGemehj/full

The full article can be found here:  https://agingandfood.wordpress.com/articles/


Who Cares? The team


Cheryl McLean, Writer/Director, Harrison McCain Visiting Scholar Acadia University

Cheryl L. McLean is writer and director of the ethnodrama “Who Cares”.  She is  editor of the CAIP Research Series published by Brush Education and books Creative Arts in Humane Medicine, Creative Arts for Community and Cultural Change and Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice, Inquiries for Hope and Change.   She is also publisher of The International Journal of the Creative Arts in Interdisciplinary Practice IJCAIP.  She was recently awarded a Harrison McCain Visiting Professorship and is a Visiting Scholar at Acadia University, Nova Scotia.

Cheryl McLean has been active in the creative arts in interdisciplinary research and practice for over ten years and has special interests in the aging and health field.  She also has experience as a researcher and ethnodramatist  actor/playwright gathering research/data and writing scripts and performing  research based stories of lived experience for audiences across a wide range of disciplines.  Trained in Stanislavski acting approaches (realism) under the mentorship of Dr. Muriel Gold, (formerly the Artistic Director of Montreal’s Saidye Bronfman Theatre) and with an M.A. (Faculty of Fine Art)  from Concordia University (drama and therapy)  she has also worked as a therapist in mental health settings with older persons.  In addition to writing and directing Who Cares, Cheryl will  be part of the cast performing in the ethnodrama to be held at Acadia University.


Catherine Morley, Lead Researcher, Producer

Catherine Morley , Assistant Professor in the School of Nutrition and Dietetics at Acadia University, is the Lead Researcher and Producer of “Who Cares”.  She is  a leader in Canada in the field of dietetics and nutrition who has written extensively about Meanings of Eating and Changes with Illness,..She is also an educator and researcher who  engages in research to raise awareness about the causes, prevention and management of malnutrition in aging Canadians and those living with dementia or changed health status.  In her work she hopes to reduce caregiver burden and the frequency and duration of hospitalization and institutionalization  of older persons.

Paula Rockwell, Actor and Vocalist


Paula Rockwell is acting and performing in the ethnodrama “Who Cares”.  She has an affinity for contemporary music and has released a solo CD, which she co-produced, featuring 20th century Art Songs entitled Fleeting Melodies. The Halifax Herald said…“a repertoire such as this is both unusual and challenging and Rockwell with her beautiful, clear, ringing voice meets their technical demands with assurance and precision.” She also has been featured on several recordings, Scott MacMillan’s The Celtic Mass for the Sea, 1st Baptist Church Choir’s Sing Lullaby under the direction of the late David MacDonald and has had compositions written for her. One of England’s foremost composers, Jonathon Willcocks, wrote a piece for Paula that she debuted at the Green Lake Festival of Music in Wisconsin entitled Mayhem!!The misfortune of Miss Maisy Murgatroyd, which involved the Green Lake Children’s Choir.

Paula has taken on several operatic roles since graduating from University of Toronto working with the Canadian Opera Company, Toronto’s Opera in Concert, Vancouver Opera, Tidal Opera and with Orchestre Baroque de Montreal. Paula has been a regular soloist with Symphony Nova Scotia and the Chorus of Westerly in Rhode Island where she made her American debut singing Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody. She is heard every summer at the Sir David Willcocks Choral Symposium in Lyman, NH, giving master classes and concerts.


   Robert Seale, Actor

Robert Seale is acting in the ethnodrama “Who Cares”.  An Acting graduate of the National Theatre School in Montreal, Robert also holds a Master’s Degree summa cum laude in Performance from York University.   He has been an award-winning CAEA professional since 1974, appearing in over 150 leading roles in the major theatres across Canada, and in the U.S.

Besides professional acting and directing, Robert has done over 300 professional consultation, choreography and stunt contracts on stage and film through his company, Fights Unlimited  RGS – including work with such groups as the National Ballet, Shaw Festival, National Arts Centre, Canadian Opera Company, National Ballet, and both the Toronto and Atlantic Film Festivals.02ACADIA03-e1351626298501

Robert Seale, directing at Acadia University

His company has worked extensively with the RCMP, training recruits in “Crisis Intervention” at Depot Division in Regina. With the Canadian Armed Forces, he recently trained, directed and choreographed a 36 member Naval Boarding Party simulation for the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo in Halifax.

In 1992 Robert completed formulation of a national system of fight certification for Canada, and the next year legally incorporated and became founding President of Fight Directors, Canada.  He remained the elected President until 2000, when he withdrew to become Executive Director for the IOSP in Washington, D.C. – the international “Round Table” of professionals.  He has a TacCom Certification from the government of Ontario and holds an internationally recognized certification as a Fight Master.