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Theatre and Social Justice (January 2020): Ethnodrama and Ethnotheatre

by Martha Schmoyer LoMonaco

Ethnodrama and Ethnotheatre

On the first page of his introduction to Ethnodrama: An Anthology of Reality Theatre, editor Johnny Saldaña defines ethnodrama as a live theatrical event created directly from research conducted to “investigate a particular facet of the human condition” in a diversity of fields including sociology, anthropology, psychology, and many others. Although Saldaña goes on to write that playwrights “are and always have been ethnodramatists, for what other source for a drama is there besides social life?” this collection is pointedly based on “research participants’ experiences and/or the researcher’s interpretation of data.” The anthology includes previously unpublished scripts and documented performance works that Saldaña deems exemplary of this “relatively new genre of arts-based research,” but it also references well-known examples or work often called documentary or verbatim theatre, including Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, Moisés Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Project’s The Laramie Project, and Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Saldaña’s later volume, Ethnotheatre: Research from Page to Stage, is a how-to including studio exercises in ethnodramatics and advice on writing and producing monologues and dialogues.

Works Cited