Artists I admire: the students in my Creating Ethnodrama class

Last evening the students in one of my classes shared excerpts of their original ethnodramas, and I left the experience feeling so proud of their work and moved by their commitment to risk taking and experimentation.

Ethnodrama refers to a playscript composed from interview transcripts, field notes, journal entries, personal memories and experiences, and/or print and media artifacts. My course is called "Creating Ethnodrama: Theory and Practice," and we've spent the last eight weeks working towards last evening's script sharings. Students established a research question and interview prompts and then interviewed people about one of two different topics: body image across gender, race, and ethnicity or online dating culture. They coded the data and then worked in small scripting groups of three or four to generate original scripts using the verbatim interview transcriptions and field notes.

Last evening we heard a ten minute excerpt from each script, and the results were fascinating and inspiring. Different interpretations of the data emerged based on each scripting group's points of view. And equally compelling was how each group chose an aesthetic framework within which to present the data. We were also joined by two arts-based research scholars, Nisha Sajnani (Lesley University/NYU) and Richard Sallis (University of Melbourne) who graciously provided additional reflections after each script reading. It was one of those evenings, at the end of a very long day, that energized me and filled me with gratitude.

For finding creative ways to embrace parameters and structure, for diving into the deep end and trusting that the life jacket hadinflated, and for sharing their fantastic ideas with me, the students in my Creating Ethnodrama class are the artists I admire for this week.