chapter  5
14 Pages

The “M” Word

Understanding Sexuality through Improvisation and Personal Testimony
WithJoe Norris

In 1998 the Western Canadian Conference on Human Sexuality approached Mirror Theatre to provide their closing keynote. Monologues are to theater what transcriptions are to traditional qualitative research. Long, drawn-out pieces are static and boring, and too much personal testimony can seem self-indulgent, regardless of the content. Mirror Theatre told the organizers that the performance would be a series of vignettes on a variety of aspects of human sexuality and would conclude with audience participation. The final scene, which was, a personal testimony, indicated the intensity of the taboo. The improvisation was the catalyst, helping the actress to recall and to feel comfortable in relating her story. When moving into improvisational scenes for data exploration, one must have one or more members be observers, to record the details of the scene. Having a recorder frees the improvisational Actors/researchers/teachers to enter into the present, knowing that others will record what they found to be of significance.