This Lab combines performance and ethnopoetry, enabling attendees to experiment with these techniques and consider their ethnographic implications. Participants will leave the Lab having experienced two emotional complexities: embodying someone else's story and having someone else perform theirs.
Since the late 1960s, the technique of ethnopoetry has been at home in a number of disciplines, including anthropology, theatre, and linguistics. As a practice, it envisions what geographer Stuart Aitken calls "an emotive mapping of stories that describe connections of people to other people and to places" (2015: 104), recognizing individuals and their communities as becoming rather than being. Ethnopoetry's emotional impulses are also apparent in theatre, including in the documentary theatre work of Anna Deavere Smith and Ping Chong. When combined with performance, careful ethnopoetry has the potential to chronicle the emotional register of relationships, speaking with and to those who experience them. This Lab intersects ethnopoetry and performance, offering attendees an opportunity to experiment with both techniques. After a series of theatre warm-ups, participants will undertake dyad discussions based on open-ended, exploratory prompt questions. Participants will record one another in conversation before retreating to select, curate, and perform part of their dyad partner's words. Attention will be paid to pauses, silences, and missteps. Overall, drawing on the convenor's experience as a performance ethnographer who has made multiple new works at the intersection of performance and ethnopoetry, participants will be led in a Lab that tests the ethnographic possibilities of this practice. Ideally, this Lab will have 6-10 participants. All participants need their own writing materials and recording device (a smartphone will suffice). Participants should be comfortable being audio recorded by a peer. This Lab functions best in a quiet indoor space.