16th May 2011
Practical Research Project: Research Document
Aim: To explore the effects of alcoholism on social relationships through a contemporary multi-media performance created using the principles and practice of Ethnodrama.
‘Performed texts move research into the public arena. They give results back to the research informants or to their role representatives. They re-embody research participants’ experience and by re-telling their story in action’ (McCall 2000)
Throughout the research process I have been fixated on the aesthetic possibilities of Ethnodrama. Ethnodrama draws on the idea of undertaking extensive research including interviews, questionnaires, surveys, personal accounts/experiences and then translating that research into a live performance. The performance as a whole is a personal interpretation of the vast amount of data and information collected during this research process. The initial proposal stated that it was important to also adapt the data collected into a performance that would trigger an empathetic response from the audience. It was explained how “words become a means or method for evoking the character of a person” this illustrates how the power of someone’s words has the ability to reach the audience on a higher level. (Denzin 2001: 23-46)
Most postmodern practitioners believe that in order to challenge an audience a piece should combine elements from all fields of performance such as, musicality, acting, instruments, media and technical involvement. It is only then that a performer is able to truly provoke a sensitive response from an audience. This type of performer strives for individuality by blending “conventions of theatre and performance” to emphasise a whole new level of creativity. (Vernon 2009: 2)
The more research I completed of the different experiences’ people had from alcoholic families, the more I felt compelled to tell one of their stories. I found a young girl, who had recorded a video diary on the internet. Her name was Rebecca and she was eighteen years old, her father was suffering from alcoholism. When I watched her videos I felt engaged and connected with her. She was explaining how much pain she had gone through and how much determination was needed to face an issue like this. I then thought about the theory and practice surrounding Ethnodrama and how the focus of this practice is capturing a ‘real-life’ experience and then interpreting that experience into a performance. From all the stories I had heard I decided to develop her story into my piece. In summary, I had listened to various stories told by people on the internet and from face to face interviews. I decided to choose Rebecca’s life experience because out of all the research I collected, Rebecca’s story was the one that made me cry. I formed an emotional attachment to this young girl’s traumatic life.
A crucial part of the project was the initial development of the plan that would deliver the performance outlined in my initial project proposal. (Appendix 1) It was important to generate a course of action that would determine the research required to build a credible performance.
The research was designed to incorporate ‘real’ people and to clearly show their vulnerability and emotion in the piece. It was clear that alcoholism needed to be researched extensively both from a theoretical and practical perspective. In order to do this I conducted nine personal interviews, completed extensive research into alcoholism both via the internet, meetings and interviews with the Alcoholics Anonymous organisation, collection of publications and literature review of the principles and theory of Ethnodrama.
An example of one interview conducted can be seen in (Appendix 2). Mark Easterby – Smith presents the idea of “armchair” researching, this consists of relying on the “analysis of...