Working as a playwright or artist or anyone for that matter connected to an arts informed inquiry one must learn to be ok with the idea of not knowing everything that has to be known to proceed.  The unknown is, in fact, a good way to begin.   Discovery, making sense of, discovering links that resonate, this is what brings on “the goose bumps of metaphor”….Ian Prinsloo writes about metaphorical thinking and its importance  in the book “Educating for Creativity, A Global Conversation” by Robert Kelly..”when we begin to project our understanding through metaphorical thinking, we explore the isomorphic relationships between what we already know (our common sense understandings of the world) and the unknown areas we need to articulate.”  This is the stuff of possibility, the aha moments, the symbolic “click” that helps an audience member “see”  or feel, sometimes with an intense shudder of recognition.

For the script “Who Cares?”  content was very close to verbatim whether drawn from interview transcripts, video provided or from newspaper articles, journals or emails.  But moving from collected data or transcripts to a performed story or play requires a delicate and selective creative process.  Saldana writes  “Everyday life can be quite mundane, but it is also peppered with occasional moments of excitement, tension and conflict….one of the goals of an ethnodramatist is to take the actual words of a participant and adapt them into an economic form that has aesthetic shape. ” (Saldana, 2011 pgs. 69 -70)

The most challenging job for the ethnodramatist as playwright is to sensitively work with and through data and lived experience seeking themes, metaphor and turning points, shaping the essential message, crafting a factual but emotional telling that is far beyond the practical goal to inform or transfer knowledge but rather to move an audience and ultimately inspire change.

Saldaña, J.(2011).   Ethnotheatre research from page to stage, (pg. 69 – 70), CA: Left Coast Press.


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