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Visiting Griffin at the confluence of playwriting, ethics, and spirit : towards poet(h)ic inquiry in research-based theatre Duff, Heather Anne


Poet(h)ic inquiry is a pedagogical space of inquiry at the confluence of playwriting, ethics and spirit, in the context of research-based theatre. It is an inquiry about presences and absences: the yu-mu (Aoki, 2000) within ethico-spiritual dilemmas, with respect to (1) an ethic of meaning, (2) individual and social justice, (3) aesthetic values, (4) an ethic of respect (Tuhiwai Smith, 2005) regarding authorship, and (5) integrated ethical relationality in contexts of teaching-learning-creativity-playwriting-knowing. Within arts-based research, there are notable ethical gaps (Boydell et al., 2012; Gallagher, 2007b; White & Belliveau, 2010) related to a quest for ethicality (Denzin, 2006; Norris, 2009), meaning (Frankl, 1946/2004), and hope-based, emancipatory pedagogy (Freire, 2006) within located social justice. Research-based theatre (Belliveau, 2015; Goldstein, 2012; Lea & Belliveau, 2015; Lea at al., 2011; Norris 2009; Prendergast & Belliveau, 2013; Saldaña, 2005, 2011), which aims to balance aesthetics with instrumental purposes (Jackson, 2005), is well positioned for ethics-situated inquiry, within a plethora of psycho-spiritual, socio-political, and geo-historical contexts. My dissertation play, Visiting Griffin, expresses the interplay between memory and present time. While visiting an absent student actor in a hospital wing, Blythe, a director/drama teacher, inquires poet(h)ically on a thread of memories through the lens of playwriting –incorporating various art forms, genres, literacies and modalities (Siegel, 2006). Scenes depict a paradox of presence-absences: yu-mu (Aoki & Jacknicke, 2000, p. 3), within particular ethical dilemmas across time and place, towards a (possibly redemptive) visit to Griffin, who is both character and metaphor in connection with the notion of self-other: hito (Aoki, 1995, p. 6). Chorus-like, supporting characters, Henriette and Mabel, offer a bilingual presence-absence in counterpoint to Dancer, who embodies a literacy of silence. Themes emerge from Visiting Griffin such as exile and return, expatriation and repatriation, and the cost of social justice. I explore my ethics criteria in dynamic poet(h)ic relationality from various perspectives. Aesthetics in poet(h)ic inquiry is linked to sub-textuality, how theme and meaning are reflected within multi-modalities, and what constitutes aesthetic knowing. Beyond Visiting Griffin, ‘redemptivity’ may be realized as a point of departure, through integrated poet(h)ical relationality on the stage of life.

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