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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The story of an idea : moving with a playmaking education MacKenzie, Donard Anthony James


This dissertation combines the disciplines of theatre, film, and education through a living inquiry which tells the life story of a playwriting idea. I document my playwriting process for a new full-length play written from research-based sources, which include in-person work at archives in London, UK and Los Angeles, CA. I examine the source of the idea and its continued influences. I move with its evolving nature through the interstitial spaces, especially as it pertains to what I term Father/author(ity), a relational presence within my creative writing. I ask what the making of art may teach if we are able to accept the invitation to learn. The subject (and object) of my study moves through the charged creative dynamics in the making of the 1962 biographical film, Freud (Huston). The resulting play, The Freudian Palimpsest of Monty and John, was staged and read for an invited audience as part of the research. I locate my work as a combination of theory as practice within an extended community of playwrights, drama educators, and theatre artists. I reference Freud’s theories of play and writing (Freud & Nelson, 2009), as I inquire through the arts based educational research method of a/r/tography, which sees knowing/making/doing as métissage. To make what Brook has called the “invisible visible” (1968, p. 48), I use dialogues and prose poems and auto/biographic narrative reflections on the source idea(s). I reveal some elusive ‘understandings’ offered as a playmaking education from within the process. The importance of learning through questions as provoked by making the play is analysed. The organizational concepts of the palimpsest and underwriting and Freud’s magic slate are examined. I reflect on the role of fear in creative writing. I offer Britzman-like notes on the “teacher’s illness” (2009, p. 123) and the redemptive joy of making art. Through seeing the entire project as an exegesis, a recursive, reflexive and responsive description of the story of a source idea for a playwriting process, I bridge the gap of knowledge by building further understandings of father/author(ity) and playmaking education.

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