Thursday, March 26, 2015

Documenting Stories

Wishbone is currently making plans for devising our next piece. We aren't saying what our next piece is just yet, but we will say that the story revolves around a historical person and event. We are discovering that telling someone else's story comes with lots of responsibilities - What assumptions should we make? What do we know for certain? How are our own world views affecting how we perceive this person's story?

Obviously, we don't know all of the answers to these questions, but when documenting someone else's story, it's very important that these questions are asked. The more I think about it, the more I question my representations of other people in my everyday storytelling - for instance, doing an impersonation of the girl in front of me at Rite Aid. Reminding myself of these questions gives me pause and allows me to be more understanding.  

It's also pretty cool that though this theatre collective is spread across the country, conversations about our upcoming projects can transport themselves into each of our lives and independent careers. I am also in the business of advocacy and storytelling through documentary film, where other people's stories are recorded in a different (although not entirely different) way than theatre or narrative film. So while all of this was on my mind, I thought I would share with y'all one of my favorite pieces Brave New Films put out last year. It's called "OverCriminalized," a three part series about mass incarceration. (Though it's much more uplifting than it sounds!)


Part one tells the story of those who have been incarcerated for being mentally ill and one city that changed policy to offer help to those who are in a mental health crisis. There's no doubt that we need to have a national conversation about mental illness, particularly in our prison system, but this film is also a great tool for thinking about the way these same stories have been represented in other places. Documentation and representation is a huge responsibility, and while the stakes may be less high in our new play, we hope to give this true story the respect and thoughtfulness it deserves.

-Laurie Jones, Artistic Director