International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 1 Number 4

October 5, 2000

Rescripting the Script and Rewriting the Paper:
Taking Research to the "Edge of the Exploratory"

C. T. Patrick Diamond
University of Toronto


Carol A. Mullen
University of South Florida

This paper is a sequel to our playlet ("Performance as Rehearsal") that was performed as part of a larger presentation called "Passion Play" at a national-level educational research conference in 2000. We reflect here on our experience of scripting and performing our "two hander" and on the audience's reactions to it documented by means of a response/evaluation sheet. We begin with a dramatic dialogue to evoke our initial (even self-defeating) reactions to our playlet as script and as performance. We then feature the audience's reactions to the playlet. Finally, in a reflective narrative, we affirm our need as teacher educator researchers to perform our academic texts by using aesthetic techniques such as literary allusion and allegory, postmodern interruptive modes, and invitational prompts. We end with the script that we originally (first) created for the playlet.

Introduction: Rescripting the Script

            After performing and writing about our playlet, "Performance as Rehearsal," we are wary of any staged reading/text that precludes opportunities/invitations for the improvisations and spontaneous interactions of the players, the audience, and even the authors. We include a panoramic photograph (Figure 1) of our performance scene to suggest our struggle to overcome the prescribed script by reaching out to the audience participants to find a less contrived form—even as we do here in this paper.
            Ironically, we found that in completing this article we had to let go of our previously written or overwrought text as a form of reporting/evoking arts-based inquiry and development. We now invite our reader to join us in considering how writing with aesthetic vision might avoid linear presentations and smoothed out themes (Alvermann & Hruby, 2000) so as to differentiate it both from traditional/scientific and even qualitative/interpretive forms. We also invite our readers to turn to and engage the script (see Appendix) if at any time they should feel excluded by our references to the playlet and its performance.

A Postpartum Dialogue

            Setting: It is late Friday afternoon, the last day of a week in April 2000 of the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). Each of us had completed more traditional presentations during the conference and our anxiously anticipated and much-rehearsed joint performance was finally over. We felt too dazed to notice the smattering of applause. Having quickly to clear away the props and gather together the scattered overhead transparencies and the disordered sheets of our script, we were spared what we then anticipated would have been embarrassment. Fortunately, the next and final performance in our sequence of three playlets (titled "Passion Play") was about to begin. We also figured as players but as not authors in the other two playlets.
"Are you alright, Carol?" asked Patrick awkwardly sensing her discontent.

"I really don't want to do this again," Carol said, forcing open her folder and her own truth as she gathered up her materials.

"Me neither," Patrick quickly replied soothingly, his eyes meeting hers. "I feel the same."

            Amidst the bustle, Carol further confided, "I mean, there we were rehearsing yet again just before the performance. But, we still couldn't seem to let go of the need to correct the text and to rehearse its changes. Despite the many rewritings of the script—and our clarity on staging that included conversational cues and the use of an evaluation form!—I still felt ill-prepared."

"Me too. After all the preparations I still felt that we were flying blind," said Patrick. "I was rewriting the script in my head even as we performed, trying to see which bits we could skip over to sustain the flow while keeping the audience's attention within the time limit. I've never worked so hard on any piece of writing."

"Right, me too," acknowledged Carol. "Just when we were starting to feel better about the script, we ended up abandoning it half-way through. We moved so far away from the original script that we had to rely on each other's reactions to keep the momentum going with the audience. I felt like I was hanging from a cliff—it had gotten so risky. Imagine! We ended up creating a survival script when all along we had the prescribed one right in front of us. Of course I'm pleased that we responded to the need to modify the script while in action, but then we practically abandoned what we had prepared in the process!"

"Yes," Patrick agreed. "Much of our rewriting and rehearsal now seems to have been counter-productive, draining our energy. Maybe this kind of bloodletting has to happen when we're trying to 'rescript' the sanctioned research scenario. One paradigm lost but another not yet regained. It's easier to do a traditional paper presentation than to cliff-hang like amateur rock-climber enthusiasts."

"But working with a different set of degrees of freedom can also lead to a fall. And that was the challenge we faced as literary-based authors rewriting an alternative script for arts-based educational research," Carol responded. "Then there's the added tension of hoping it will peak in performance."

"The strange part was that the awkwardness even felt right," Patrick confessed. "Like we deserved to be punished for transgressing the known forms of conference presentations and research. Arts-based inquiry and teacher educator researcher development might have been a set of ideas that we had accepted intellectually but we still had to experience them emotionally. This breakthrough was stressful and piecemeal."

Our Initial Response: Letting Go of the Script

            When we engaged in the "originative acts" (Barone, 2000) of scripting and performing our playlet to recreate the worlds of doing research in which we live, the process was painful. We were disturbed by what we had co- created. We needed to realize emotionally that aesthetics, unlike the study of abstract ideas using science or logic, represents another still emerging branch of the study of knowledge, one that is concerned with the nature of art and the sensory character of our emotional experience of art. As Audi (1999) writes, "while in science or logic we must always prefer discursive clarity, in art we respond to the maximally dense (or 'confused') intimation of ideas" (p. 74). Our mounting concerns for clarity had been symptoms of our fearful yearning for the containment of uncertainty. But, "to be able to state a problem," as Spivak (1994) reminds postmodern researchers and arts-based author-actors, "is not to perform the solution [and it may] indeed be the opposite" (p. 35). But, in writing this paper, the "confused intimation of ideas" still seemed too daunting a description of arts-based inquiry and development.
            We agreed after reflecting on our experience of the performance that we could not return to logical presentations and papers. But, we did not know how to proceed farther with dramatic and literary forms of arts- based work. We were then ready to abandon our hard-earned but over-written script. Like the creator of the Frankenstein monster (Shelley, 1818/1994), we felt raw, exposed, and even defeated. And so we searched for new research leads, first emotionally through disclosing our disappointments to each other and then through welcoming the indirections hinted at by our responses to the experiences of performance and of drafts of the script and of this paper. After many rewrites, we came to see that dramatic and postmodern uses of allusion were the ways in which we had tried to materialize the conceptual abstraction of arts- based educational research and development. But we make no claims of finality or mastery.
            One problem that we faced when scripting the playlet was trying to create dialogue out of conceptual material about research. Would the audience be able to "get it" when the words were just flying past them? They could not stop the action at will and return to savor this or that nuance. The words had to carry them and the play forward at the same time. The words had to support the audience members as they improvised with the dialogue to gain at least partial understandings of what was going on or being implied. In a playlet about aesthetic inquiry and development, we could not just provide a dramatic incident to drive the action relentlessly forward. "Obviously [in doing research] we can't have a dead body on the carpet or 'a new dug grave.' It isn't as easy as just having a murder to solve" (see Appendix for script). In our postmodern attempt at dramatic de/re-construction of meaning, our script threatened to become a Frankenstein-like academic text—one that ached from the all the pushing and pulling of its forced stitching!
            Our preferred device for grounding and sensitizing the abstraction of doing arts-based educational research has been to invoke literary allusions—first Mary Shelley's (1818/1994) Frankenstein story in the script and now Edmund Morris's multi-form, postmodern biography of Ronald Reagan, the former American President, in this article. In the writing of our self-consciously crafted script, in its performance, and in the writing of this intertextual paper, we felt that we were/are on the edge of "constantly overreach[ing], puffing out [our] own dry-ice, prowling after every irony, foreshadowing and frisson" (Mallon, 1999, p. 274). We here cite Mallon's (1999) description of the effect on him of Morris's biography of Reagan to evoke the multi-voiced character of the postmodern turn and to provide an allegory of the effect on us of the interplay of our script- performance- paper-based inquiry. Mallon's voice, as a critic writing in a chic, pop culture magazine, is contrasted with that of Morris the creative biographer, even as Morris' voice is contrasted with that of the biographed Reagan. Each seeks to speak on behalf of the other. We are relying on allegory as a rehabilitated postmodern device. As De Man (1969) claims, allegory is "a representational mode that defers meaning indefinitely and that puts the interpreter in contact with 'an authentically temporal predicament'" (cited in Edmundson, 1994, p. 173). Knowing is unfinalizable.
            In the first drafts of this article, we relied on the comments of our audience participants to speak on our behalf as author-performers and as educational artist-critics. In the end, though, the Frankenstein creature had to speak emotionally on its own behalf and on that of its creator, using "wild and incoherent self-reproaches" (Shelley, 1818/1994, p. 208). So, too, in the end we realized that the playlet and the article must each be left to speak on its own behalf. We could not stop rewriting the script and the article until we resisted anticipating the demands of others for "discursive clarity" above all else. The prospect of an expected hostile reception had to be put on hold.
            In his arts-based depiction of Reagan's life, Morris assembled a complex body of literary forms to "increase the array of perceptions available to [him as] the author" (Barone, 2000, p. 141). He inventively broke up the certainty of his narrative life history of Reagan with mini-memory plays, documentary script, entries from his own diary, poems, instructions on how to read the book, and, most controversial of all, with the construction of a fictional self-narrator who accompanies the President as if they were both characters in a novel (Mallon, 1999). In our playlet and this paper, we also sought to break up the expository argument that has characterized much of the discussion of arts-based inquiry and teacher educator researcher development.
            We used the arts-based forms of drama, metaphor, literary allusion, and allegory to give life to our thinking. In our script and in this paper, we also created a multi-layered Frankenstein creature out of our inquiring duo of fictional joint narrators who, however clumsily, seek inclusion in the arts-based educational research community. We improvised with the authorial form of duography to show how two individual stories can merge to provoke intellectual discovery and to express the process emotionally (Diamond & Mullen, 1997).
            As co-authors, we have replaced the "&" with "=" at the top of this article to suggest a new inquiry relationship symbolizing genuinely equal authorship (see Mullen = Kochan, in press). We also created a visual duography (Figure 1). This panoramic view of our separate but joined selves shows our AERA 2000 performance and the closing of the gap between them (the audience participants) and us (the players). (Note 1) Just as we are on the edge in the reconstructed photograph, so too we are "on the edge of the exploratory" (Note 2) in our inquiry and development. We seek to close the gap between our previous performance of "script" and our present representation of it here.


Rescripting the Script: Recovering Nerve

            Our initially harsh reaction to abandon the script of our playlet and any further writing about it softened as we accepted each other's reactions. Recalling our earlier use of Patricia Highsmith's (1949/2000) Strangers on a Train, we began to see that her boundary blurring Tom Ripley series provided us with another allegory of our own efforts. Highsmith created a fictional form and character, Tom Ripley, that explored the "integration of good with evil, no longer cast out as other, but slipping, undifferentiated, into the totality of human behavior" (Summers, 1995, p. 363). But how could we integrate our playlet and this paper about it into the "maximally dense" range of arts-based inquiry? Tom Ripley helped us by providing a third explanatory figure or exemplar for our paper.
            In our own tentative way, we had violated logical research conventions and had sought to enlist sympathy for previously outlawed subjects and forms. While like Tom Ripley, the murderous anti-hero, we were operating from outside the usual bounds by defying authorities, we felt that, unlike him, we had not escaped unscathed. Perhaps we needed to heed Ripley's advice to "go on stage at the last moment, with dash and momentum. Too much briefing and rehearsal could be a bad thing" (Highsmith, 1992, p. 10). As we realized later, Ripley's cool subversion of conventional notions of literary justice had encouraged us to improvise more daringly during our performance and during writing this paper about it.
            The problem we faced remains: How can we more effectively subvert the limiting notions of the empirical tradition in research, propositional knowledge in teacher education, and of transmissive conference presentations? When we approach this challenge as educator-outlaws determined to break out of the imprisoning assumptions that traditional forms of research, teacher education, and conference presentations leave unexamined, the risks escalate (Mullen & Diamond, 1999). We have written together for 10 years to find aesthetic ways to encounter ourselves differently and to push against our own previous ways of being in the academy. In these latest attempts (playlet and paper), we are trying to make arguments meaningfully implicit in our writing so that the words can resonate with and suggest memories, images, common experiences, and intimate viewpoints (Yukman, 1997).

Audience Interaction and Responses

            When we returned to our separate institutions after our AERA 2000 apparent fiasco, we were able to pause and to re-evaluate. Glancing at the response sheets that we had collected from the sparse but supportive audience (of 17) after our session, we were unexpectedly encouraged by the feedback. We then shared our reactions. In extremis, the audience and even the work had pardoned us. Somehow, during our playlet, "Rehearsal as Performance," we had managed to create conditions that enabled spontaneous interaction between the audience and ourselves (the two players). Our stitched together form had produced the inclusion that we longed for. The participants valued the experience of having been cast as "patrons" in the restaurant scene. We had invited them to listen in on our conversation as two writer-performers anxiously rehearsing for their first public performance. By removing the fourth wall separating the audience from us as performers, we had authorized them to interrupt us during our performance and after it to provide us with their written reflections on how they felt.
            As overly self-consciousness and beginning playwright-performers, we had to confront our reliance on the tightly polished script that precludes anything from going wrong—or becoming messy and confusing. But such a project, whether dramatic or in paper form, can only foreclose openings both for others to find their way in and for the authors to find their way out! We had been yearning to break out of our usual academic scripts. We needed to confront what this meant. But first we had to have the experience of breaking-out and to see where it might leave us. And so we went "fear-ward" to reflect on what had dismayed us.
            Through the narrator's introduction to our playlet, we had invited responses to our script and its layering of techniques. In the actual performance, we managed to stay open to audience interaction. On the response sheet, we had created spaces for them to engage with the work and us. We wrote, "This is our first time staging a dramatization of our research. Please respond to what you experience. Feel free to interact with our playlet as it occurs." We asked further questions on the evaluation form so that we could learn from our first dramatic experience and more about arts-based inquiry.
            As we read the participants' responses, we felt relieved for having persevered and grateful that some of them, as they had shared, were also searching for new forms. Like us, they do not have any answers. Once we felt validated by our enthusiastic audience (unlike the harried wedding guest in Coleridge's "The rime of the ancient mariner," cited in Edmundson, 1994), we gained a new view of and respect for our notions of "rehearsal as performance" and "performance as rehearsal." All inquiry is a work in progress. The unforeseen has to unfold in action in order for something new or even startling to be created.
            We couched our audience invitation, "What do you think about how we chose to 'stage' our performance?" as a three-part question. We first asked for comments on our choice of having staged our playlet as a dramatization at an AERA conference (as opposed to presenting an arts symposium, forum, or installation). The audience participants, who were faculty members and graduate students in the United States and Canada, responded very positively. Typical comments (italicized throughout) included simple statements of enthusiasm:
Wonderful! The best thing I have done at AERA.
Very invitational.
It was great, an experiential way for addressing this kind of work is the best mode.
            Other comments embraced the value of alternative pedagogical techniques:
I liked the addition of more variety, as in this multi- media presentation.
Excellent! Fluid, freely moving, captures what it means to teach.
Your playlet allowed me to experience the possibilities that in a forum would have been reduced to concepts.
            Still other comments celebrated the value of process and particularly of process-based presentations for helping to rethink our research epistemologies and to elude our conditioning within the academy:
I very much enjoyed the process-oriented presentation, that attempt to stay on the edge of the exploratory without the tie down of the polished event.
I really appreciate attempts at presenting research in alternative ways.
Good chance for me to rethink and recast my beliefs about research.
            The second part of our question asked: "What do you think about how we chose to 'stage' our performance as part of a larger passion play made up of different playlets and performers?" Together with the creators of the two other playlets, we had worked hard over many months to help to make the whole event dramatic for the audience. We felt challenged by our need to involve the audience in the entire performance and in the individual playlets. The mini-company of author-performers-technicians, (Note 3) orchestrated by three sets of inquirers, had exchanged many ideas along with the narrator-discussant-jester about involving the audience. We had searched for the overlapping themes and the unique features of the playlets in order to plan a whole performance with resonating parts. We were very pleased to learn that our playlet, "Rehearsal as performance," had worked for our respondents both on its own and as part of the larger whole:
Your playlet was a good fit.
Your play was an interesting addition.
The playlet merged into a larger, fuller experience in the sense that qualities permeated throughout.
It offered different ways of looking at issues and ideas.
Yes, there needs to be multiple texts.
Seems like a good study in contrasts.
I'm not sure that I would call this a play—a "dramatic dialogue" perhaps.
            We agree with this last respondent that our playlet, like any "two-hander," was limited in its dynamics and at best played as a "dramatic dialogue." We welcomed the comment that the overall performance still offered "a good study in contrasts."
            The third part of our question asked: "What do you think about how we chose to 'stage' our performance as a café script between collaborating and equal authors who are formerly a supervisor and a doctoral candidate?" The respondents' specific comments suggested that we had helped establish strong connections for them:
It reminded me of my own relationship with my advisor!
I like the way it was a "rehearsal"—more informal—so it was not closed. I resonated with ideas offered like the value of working with what you already have on hand.
            More general comments were evident in such statements as the following:
The conversation, the search, is the artist's experience.
I think the idea was intriguing.

            Finally, another set of comments acknowledged that the café scene was a rehearsal and that it depended on audience interaction (we had cast the participants as "patrons" in the restaurant scene):
It's a work-in-progress; the dialogic is refreshing.
Great that you allowed the audience to participate.
            On the evaluation form, we focused on audience participation. We asked participants to describe how they had interacted with or responded to our playlet. A number of thought-provoking responses that were elicited raised issues of process and creativity. Participants had even become aware of witnessing themselves as part of the process in such roles as participant, observer, participant observer, and, of course, as restaurant patron!:
I like the notion of invited participation as the spirit moves. I believe this form of interaction inspires creative and growing spaces.
Loved it—wanted to make the connection that the postmodern take on audience participation is so zen.
The interruptions worked well by juxtaposing positions—drew attention to process, catching myself while in process!
I became involved. I was listening and coming to an understanding.
I like the Frankenstein metaphor and the ways it forced me to examine my own reactions.
I'm more like an observer. I couldn't interact, which doesn't mean that there is no interaction.
I found the interaction very relevant for my experiences and it created an opportunity for me to reflect on what was happening.
I like to be present and invisible at the same time so my response will be and is in my heart. It will show up in my work some other time.
            One participant had approached us at our imaginary café table to comment on the blandness of her meal (traditional research). She asked to borrow our pepper (arts-based inquiry) to enliven it. On her self-identifying evaluation sheet she wrote: "I really loved the sharing. Thanks for inviting our contributions."
            The participants were also asked to provide overall comments in relation to what they liked about our playlet and what they thought needed improvement. In terms of strengths, they commented on ideas ranging from risk (e.g., "I appreciate the risk—the courage taken"), through the multi/meta-text (e.g., "I liked the meta-textual experience; the music, visuals, and sharing of thoughts were captivating; the flyer with graphics and words was a really good idea") to the setting ("I liked the café idea and the informality of the piece"). Once again, the idea of process was emphasized in such comments as: "I am attracte d to the idea of process in the performance itself," and "Your willingness to let your play include audience participation was very appealing." As supervisors of dissertations, we appreciated the comments made by the self-identifying graduate students. Some had felt encouraged, indicating that our playlet had helped them to consider new ways to play with form in their dissertations:
I am presently doing doctoral research in the area of narrative inquiry and I am playing with form for some of the writing to enable me to figure out what I am doing. This kind of session helps me to think.
            On the feedback sheets we also probed in this direction. We asked: "Did anything alter how you see research, teaching, writing, curriculum, or your own work or researcher self?" An asterisk had appeared beside this question. We wanted to see if the participants had found anything for their own use, which would in turn have highlighted the potential impact of the piece and possibly of artistic approaches to research more generally. Respondents offered comments that included discovering ideas for research, gaining self-confidence, and confirming the "validity" of their work. Importantly, ideas were expressed about the value of showing others the unfolding process of one's work and thinking:
It gave me some ideas for presenting research.
Yes, confirmed my own work as valid. This is so supportive of my own work and approach.
Allowed for incorporating the usually overshadowed voice.
I often forget the value and importance of revealing the construction of work and in teaching others to illustrate the thinking process.
            Suggestions were also elicited for improvement of the dramatic performance that offered a range of perspectives:
Introduce yourselves because I don't know you and it took time for me to figure out who is who.
It's a bit disconcerting to have readers' theater with little interpretation in the words. Should we think about our performance of our words in these performances? I have gradually become much more aware of my spoken performance in the classroom.
Make it more engaging, the artistic presentation, with more emotions.

            The last comment confirms our suspicion (as shared in the playlet) that "a play about research will always seem more like a text to be read than a script to be performed."
            Two very different types of comments on the value of the script itself intrigued us. While one respondent wrote, "A copy of the script for us to follow would have helped," another insisted, "Do not use a script at all next time." Such creative tension is productive and enlivening. In the first instance, ideas of "script" as an improvisation and rehearsal for a performance seem mutually exclusive. But the script had ceased to be something that we could allow ourselves to follow. We felt that our literal script became increasingly less helpful and even cumbersome during the session. We referred to the script less and less; we even parodied our over-reliance on it at several points; and we had also dared each other and the audience to interact freely with our then unscripted interplay. The very notion of a prefabricated and closed script is problematic, especially in the context of arts-based performance. Any text that is so premeditated must seem too "well written," distracting and distancing from the experiences of the audience.
            Several respondents failed to suggest any improvements. Instead, in keeping with the conceptual demands of the piece (or with those of courtesy), four individuals had not felt ready to evaluate the playlet because they were still immersed in thinking about it:
Don't know yet, enjoyed the moment, the interchange, and I am still digesting.
Time will tell. I'm thinking about my creative, growing spaces and how they are also places of interaction—you've got me going on a new thought.
I need to think about the playlet and let it wash over me for awhile.
Keep doing it! This is wonderful—you're opening new doors for us! I'm going to get back to you about what more I am thinking. I need time.

Our Reflective Responses as Writer-Performers

            We have now been able to reflect on and write about what happened that final Friday afternoon of AERA 2000. We accept that the aesthetic drives and helps us to express our inquiry and development. Just as there is no single, simple definition of the concept of "artistic" (Eisner, 1981), so too there is no single, simple definition of arts- based inquiry and development. In their synoptic treatment, Pinar, Reynolds, Slattery, and Taubman (1996) identified seven approaches to dealing aesthetically with educational issues. In taking our research to the "edge of the exploratory," we merged at least three of these approaches into a multi-form inquiry: we crafted a postmodern notion of inquiry and development as aesthetic (dramatic) text; we used the arts (literary sources and forms such as allusion, allegory, metaphor and dialogue) as conceptual tools for understanding inquiry and development; and we also explored the connections among theater, inquiry, and development.
            We scripted a play that relied heavily on the dual Frankenstein figure (creator-creature) both as a story and metaphor to represent arts-based inquiry and teacher educator researcher development. We sought to exemplify the postmodern preoccupation of a work of art that deals primarily with itself and its own self-interrogation. This exploration circled back to incorporate the difficulties of presenting research findings when using literary forms. We believe that what we have inquired into is a raft of significant aesthetic issues and that presenting them in dramatic and written form has promise of holding both "the wondering gaze" of the audience and our own "passionate commitment" (Moustakas, 1990) to them.
            One of our graduate students had noted that the playlet, like our previous work, reveals that the motive behind our research is personal, expressing our shared need for self- development and internal change. We write our accounts, like this one, by representing an experience, by interpreting our individual and shared voices, and by learning from the voices of other writers, artists, participants, and students. The reflexive method is crucial, we found, for providing an insider's view of a culture (Bogdan & Taylor, 1994) (in our case, that of the academy where arts-based inquiries continue to be crafted/performed) and for eliciting the responses of others.
            In our Gothic "take" on arts-based productions, "imagination and emotional effects exceed reason. Passion, excitement and sensation transgress [traditional research] proprieties and … laws. Ambivalence and uncertainty obscure single meaning" (adapted from Botting, 1996, p. 3). Drawing upon Gothic fiction and postmodern biography allowed us to treat the abstract concepts of arts-based inquiry and development in sensory ways. The ideas could then be experienced as feelings. We remade our emotional experience by sewing together its isolated and often ill-fitting shreds into an alternative body of knowledge about events.
            We then tried like Baron Frankenstein to galvanize this mass/mess of fragments into life by using not electricity but the arts-based modes of imagination, that is, our playlet and multi-form paper. We further dramatized these compositions by adding the literary allusions of the Victor Frankenstein and his creature, of Edmund Morris and his Ronald Regan, and of Patricia Highsmilth and her Tom Ripley. Our aim was/is to illustrate how the humanities, art, and literature help further inquiry, particularly into complex matters that are often difficult to represent, such as teacher educator research and development.

Reformulation: Letting Go of the Original Paper

            Perhaps Eisner (e.g., 1981, 1991) and Barone (2000) have produced the "best-known formulation of the significance of the arts and aesthetic knowing for curriculum and teaching" (Pinar et al., 1995, p. 581). We draw on and seek to reformulate these positions by considering teacher educator researcher inquiry and development as arts-based in several ways: as forms of artistic expression with aesthetic qualities; as requiring imaginative and creative responses because of their spontaneous nature; as defying rules because of their unpredictable qualities; and as emerging in process and through improvisation. Inquiry and development are incorrigibly artistic activities. Finding ways to articulate and represent them and to provoke new interpretations is a daunting but inescapable aesthetic challenge.
To address and to promote playful engagement with this issue of inquiry and development conceptualized and pursued as artistic activities, we have explored the impact of our artful inquiry and reflections. We studied our encounters with the work both with ourselves as authors and with the audience as participants. The encouraging comments of the audience as performer-critics produced different insights from our initial reactions to the script and our performance of it. Their comments helped us to reformulate our inquiry and to share it publicly here.
            But then we needed to let go of our then carefully written paper, our albatross, as we explored "a [more improvised] form that illuminates, interprets, and appraises the qualities that [we had] experienced" (Eisner, 1991, p. 86) and that could have meaning for others. A fourth allegory. Just as killing the albatross had sentenced the Ancient Mariner to roaming the earth interminably, we had felt compelled to produce version after version of both the script and the paper about its performance. We empathized with Coleridge who was criticized for a style that "is not succinct, but encumbered with a train of words and images that have no practical and only a possible relation to one another—that add to its stateliness, but impede its march." [We felt that our sentences like Coleridge's ancient mariner] "wound their 'forlorn way obscure' over the page" (Hazlitt, cited in Edmundsun, 1994, p. 171).
            Coleridge's poem was one of the most important sources that Shelley (1818/1994) cobbled together into her own novel. We first chose a dramatic form (the script) using the Frankenstein source as an allegory of our inquiry so that we could express the artistic qualities of our work in progress. We next chose an intertextual essay form of paper still using Shelley's Gothic tale but adding devices appropriated from Edmund Morris's literary biography of Ronald Reagan (the creature of his former political masters). For nerve, we tried to borrow from Patricia Highsmith's Tom Ripley. There was never any doubt that Tom was always his own master. Yet we seldom felt that we were.
            We did not introduce these literary twists into our dramatic and postmodern turn for their own sake nor to provoke total confusion. For us, the stories and appropriated sources are useful because, as a sustained set of metaphors, they helped us to project inference patterns from the literary sources (of the Frankenstein creator-creature, the famous but shadowy President, Tom Ripley, the likeable killer, and the wandering ancient mariner) to the less well known target that is arts-based inquiry and development. As well as showing inquiry and development as shaping, making, replacing, and rebirthing, the unlikely combination of Frankenstein, Reagan, Ripley, and the ancient mariner prepares us for the rough and unpredictable processes and appearance of aesthetic inquiry and development. The four creatures also signify the hazardous nature and the potentially dangerous consequences of using aesthetic approaches to remake dead bodies of fading research and developmental modes (lifeless fragments, yesterday's frontmen, outdated hero-detectives, and the homeless) into any new whole. "The materials at present within [our] command hardly [ever] appear … adequate to so arduous an undertaking" (Shelley, 1818/1994, p. 52).
            We are encouraged by Pillow's (2000) account to "forefront the necessity of continuing to do our work even while making visible the many ways such work is (un)graspable, (im)possible, (un)intelligible, (un)knowable, and provisional" (p. 22). This is not a failure but is the very work of arts-based inquirers. In this, our present work, we overlay a dramatic/paper fiasco/rupture with literary allusions to provide examples of arts-based inquiry and teacher educator researcher development in process and as reflecting on itself. We recognize that such a reflexive subject, the artful inquiry that is "infatuated with the possibility of its own use" (Barone, 2000, p. 148), can never be as engaging as any literary or real-life figure. Accordingly, we used the four literary figures (Frankenstein, Reagan, Ripley, and the ancient mariner) to animate the mystery of promoting arts- based inquiry and development. The dramatic form aroused meaningful reflection at our AERA 2000 experimental session and subsequently within and between us as authors. We hope that with this article will help us to push our inquiry "to the edge of the exploratory" with other artist-educators.
            Arts-based inquiry has helped us to perceive and report the dynamics of situations (writing-performing-writing aesthetically) and to suggest how to read and revise them. Like Sullivan (2000), we have looked at details within our contexts, perceived relationships among the parts, and between the parts and the whole. We are still looking for coalescences within the disorder, for organic unity beneath the superficial disruption, and for disruptive forces beneath the superficial unity. Such work is less about attempting to contain aesthetic experience and more about showing what piecemeal, working examples of it may look like. The text of our playlet appears as an appendix so that you, the reader, can enter the exchange and freely recreate it, using whatever form or voice you choose.


We wish to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their very helpful and thoughtful comments on our manuscript.
  1. The photographer, William A. Kealy, Associate Professor of Educational Technology at University of South Florida, is a graphic artist who created Figure 1.
  2. The "edge of the exploratory" is a phrase that was used by one of our audience participants on the feedback sheet; we have permission to use the anonymous statements.
  3. The mini-company of author-performers-technicians consisted of Tom Barone (playlet 1), Patrick Diamond and Carol Mullen (playlet 2), Elijah Mirochnik (playlet 3), Susan Finley (narrator-discussant-jester), and William Kealy (technician/stage-hand). Graduate students also joined this troupe to play scripted parts in playlet 1. The flyer that Carol Mullen and William Kealy produced announcing the AERA presentation, "Passion Play," and its three playlets incorporated original artworks by Kathy Mantas published in The postmodern educator (Diamond & Mullen, 1999).
  4. The poem, "Art Takes Its First Awkward Steps" (by Diamond & Mullen) (see Appendix, "The Script of the Playlet," parts 1 and 2), is from The postmodern educator (Diamond & Mullen, 1999).


Alvermann, D. E., & Hruby, G. G. (2000). Mentoring and reporting research: A concern for aesthetics. Reading Research Quarterly, 35(1), 46–63.

Audi, R. (1999). The Cambridge dictionary of philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Barone, T. (2000). Aesthetics, politics, and educational inquiry. New York: Peter Lang.

Bogdan, R., & Taylor, S. J. (1994). The social meaning of mental retardation: Two life stories. New York: Teachers College Press.

Botting, F. (1996). Gothic. New York: Routledge.

Diamond, C. T. P., & Mullen, C. A. (1997). Alternative perspectives on mentoring in higher education: Duography as collaborative relationship and inquiry. Journal of Applied Social Behaviour, 3(2), 49–64.

Edmundson, M. (1994). Coleridge, S. T. In M. Groden & M. Kreiswirth (Eds.). The Johns Hopkins guide to literary theory and criticism (pp. 170–174). Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Eisner, E. W. (1981). On the differences between scientific and artistic approaches to qualitative research. Educational Researcher, 10(4), 5–9.

Eisner, E. W. (1991). The enlightened eye: Qualitative inquiry and the enhancement of educational practice. New York: Macmillan.

Highsmith, P. (1949/2000). Strangers on a train. New York: Penguin.

Highsmith, P. (1992). Ripley under ground. New York: Vintage.

Mallon, T. (1999, November). Doubting Thomas: Double Dutch. GQ: Gentlemen's Quarterly, 265–274.

Morris, E. (1999). Dutch: A memoir of Ronald Reagan. New York: Random House.

Moustakas, C. (1990). Heuristic research, design, methodology, and applications. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Mullen, C. A., & Diamond, C. T. P. (1999). Stories of breakout: Academic gatekeepers, prisoners, and outlaws (pp. 253–280). In C. T. P. Diamond & C. A. Mullen (Eds.), The postmodern educator: Arts-based inquiries and teacher development. New York: Peter Lang.

Mullen, C. A. = Kochan, F. K. (in press). Issues of collaborative authorship in higher education. The Educational Forum.

Pillow, W. S. (2000). Deciphering attempts to decipher postmodern educational research. Educational Researcher, 29(5), 21–24.

Pinar, W. F., Reynolds, W. M., Slattery, P., & Taubman, P. M. (1995). Understanding curriculum: An introduction to the study of historical and contemporary curriculum discourses. New York: Peter Lang.

Shelley, M. (1818/1994). Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spivak, G. C. (1994). Response to Jean-Luc Nancy. In J. F. MacCannell & L. Zakarin (Eds.), Thinking bodies (pp. 32–51). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Sullivan, A. M. (2000). Notes from a marine biologist's daughter: On the art and science of attention. Harvard Educational Review, 70(2), 211–227.

Summers, C. (Ed.) (1995). The gay and lesbian literary heritage: A reader's companion. New York: Henry Holt.

Yukman, L. (1997). Feminism and a discontent. In L. Heywood & J. Drake (Eds.), Third wave agenda (pp. 168–177). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minneapolis Press.

About the Authors

C. T. Patrick Diamond, Professor        
Center for Teacher Development (Suite 10-146)
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education,
University of Toronto
252 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1V6 Canada
Office Phone: (416) 923-6641, x2629
Office Fax: (416) 926-4754

C. T. Patrick Diamond is Professor at the Center for Teacher Development, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 1V6. He specializes in literary forms of arts-based narrative inquiry, qualitative research methodology, and collaborative approaches to teacher- educator-researcher development. Dr. Diamond is an associate editor for Curriculum Inquiry. He has published over 160 works, including numerous articles and the books Teacher Education as Transformation (1991, Open University Press) and The Postmodern Educator (with C. A. Mullen, 1999, Peter Lang). E-mail:
Carol A. Mullen, Assistant Professor
University of South Florida
Leadership Development Department
4202 East Fowler Avenue, EDU 162
College of Education
Tampa, FL 33620-5650 USA
Office Phone: (813) 974-0040
Office Fax: (813) 974-3366

Carol A. Mullen is Assistant Professor at the Leadership Development Department, University of South Florida, College of Education, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, EDU 162, Tampa, Florida 33620-5650 USA. She specializes in innovative approaches to leadership development, arts-based methods, and collaborative forms of qualitative research. Dr. Mullen has published seven guest- edited issues of journals, including the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (with C. T. P. Diamond). She has also published many articles and four books, including New Directions in Mentoring (1999, Falmer) and The Postmodern Educator (with C. T. P. Diamond, 1999, Peter Lang). E-mail:

Table Caption
Table 1. Rescripting the Script: Reconstructing the Self-as-Author-Performer.

The Script of the Playlet: Performance as Rehearsal

Stage Directions:

[The NARRATOR-DISCUSSANT-JESTER reads pieces from the Frankenstein poem at the beginning and end of this playlet as a transition from the previous playlet and to the concluding playlet.] 

Who's dead?
A new dug grave awaits
The in-ter(ra)nment of the pre-post body.
Its main part took a fatal blow.
Life ar-rested post-haste. Rigor mortis.
Stayed too long at its post. The last post.
"Pass the body bag, please." 
Over the broken modernist body
the postmodernist "monster" now lurches.
Another stitched together Frankenstein,
the creation and not the Baron!    
CAROL MULLEN and PATRICK DIAMOND come forward together center stage addressing audience in turn, both holding their briefcases, that they briefly put down at the same time to signal the beginning of their dialogue with the audience; they pick up their briefcases after they address the audience, and put them beside their chairs.

End of Stage Directions:

CAROL: Welcome to our playlet. First some business and then "on with the show." We'd like you to refer to the response sheet that Patrick and I designed for this playlet. We invite you to respond to what you experience during our performance. We also really want you to feel free to interact with our playlet as it occurs. Because the timeframe is short, we have compiled some ideas that may help you to express your reactions during the actual performance. Notice the part on the sheet about audience interaction—we ask that you make this up as the playlet occurs! Please think of our stage as one that encompasses this whole room and act as though you are in the restaurant with us. You overhear our conversation. You can also look to the narrator-jester for improvising ways to engage with us. When the whole experimental session is over today, kindly return the response sheet to us with your jotted impressions about the performance. We really appreciate your time and feedback.

PATRICK: Now put your memory and imagination to work. We all live in an age of the ready-made. But have you ever had to make or invent something out of whatever was at hand? On the fly? Out of bits and pieces? Perhaps it was a makeshift raft at camp? An unexpected meal? An impromptu speech? Getting directions in another language when traveling? Rescuing a plan that broke down? Try to remember or reconnect with how you felt when you realized that improvising was the only way out? How did you recombine whatever you had? How did things turn out? Watch as Carol and I use the arts-based form of a play to explore why and how we make our passionate inquiries into doing research. Even though we have a script, this is a work in progress.

CAROL: In the playlet that follows, we will use music and overheads to help set the scene. Patrick and I play ourselves rehearsing for this performance. So our performance is the rehearsal. We are brunching in the restaurant of our AERA hotel in New Orleans. [A instrumental jazz track, "Nancy (with the laughing face," (P. Silvers & J. Van Heusen) Grant Green with Sonny Clark, 1962. Hollywood, CA: Capitol Records, Blue Note 57194, 1997), begins to play. The track is a slow tempo instrumental without lyrics that might compete with the dialogue. It evokes hotel lobby music. Nancy's face links to the lovely woman in the portrait that the monster looks at below and contrasts with its scowl]

[CAROL and PATRICK turn to stand in front and then sit behind table with two chairs, two coffee mugs, and napkins]

[van Gough's (1888) painting of "Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at night." [displayed above players' heads, OVERHEAD (OHT) 1]

CAROL: Is this okay?

PATRICK: Fine. Want another coffee?

CAROL: No thanks. Flying already. So this is our last run through before our AERA performance in "Passion Play" later this afternoon. [picks flyer out of conference folder] On the flyer that we'll hand out at our performance we call our playlet…[reads aloud as shown on OTH]: "Performance as rehearsal." So, do you want to start? [OTH 2]

PATRICK: Okay, performance…. First we need an inciting incident. What event triggered our interest in arts-based work? Obviously we can't have a dead body on the carpet or "a new dug grave." It isn't as easy as just having a murder to solve.

CAROL: We have written about how we always felt compelled to work in non-traditional ways. Yes, as in sharing our stories of being on the margins.

PATRICK: We came to see ourselves as educational outlaws. And it's only now that we can even name these approaches as arts-based. Maybe the trigger was Eisner's AERA presidential address.

CAROL: Yes, that also did it for me. That bit about [reads aloud as shown on OHT 3]:
"How [to] perform the magical feat of transforming the contents of our consciousness into a public form that others can understand."
Like now.

PATRICK: So maybe we're trying to show how to use arts- based forms so that our thinking then becomes publicly accessible. Is that the problem statement that drives our playlet? How to present research artfully? But a play about research will always seem more like a text to be read than a script to be performed.

CAROL: We have to be bold. Arts-based work can release our creativity but will also places such demands on it. I like Laurel Richardson's description of arts-based inquiry as [reads from her notes]
"a class of experimental genres that deploy literary devices to recreate lived experience and evoke emotional response."  [OTH 4]

PATRICK: After so many eulogies to arts-based work it's time for some action. I wished we had a way for the audience to decide how well done or rare that might want the performance. You know, how well scripted or improvised. Maybe it could be real, surreal, or even unreal.

CAROL: For now, can we just focus on the performance? How can we dramatize the exposition? I hope the audience will buy the long prologs and all the dialogue. But then the price that a George Bernard Shaw audience had to pay for one of his comedies of manners was sitting through what seemed like an endless preface. All justification and no action.

PATRICK: Like us offering a drama of ideas? How can we make it more cut and thrust. We could portray arts-based inquiry as the misunderstood underdog. A new romantic contender in educational research.

CAROL: But where's the actual dramatic impact? We don't want to be just two heads talking over coffee and sharing secrets. I know—let's use Mary Shelley's story of the Frankenstein figure, to flesh out [rolls eyes], as it were, our take on arts-based inquiries. The Frankenstein speaks to a transformation that's both ugly and beautiful? Life and death?  

PATRICK: That's dramatic. Maybe we could begin with us as two servants polishing the silver. I'm the faithful old retainer explaining to you, the new young one, about how the Baron Frankenstein devotes himself to the "unhallowed arts." And we're not allowed in his laboratory.

CAROL: Sounds too like the strange case of Mary Riley and Dr. Jekyll.

PATRICK: What about starting with that bit that you found from Frankenstein for the first chapter in our book, The Postmodern Educator? [OHT shows Frankenstein portrait with Milton quote] [OTH 5]

That moment when the creature who has been "promoted from darkness" feels "something glittering in [its] breast" as it gazes on the lovely woman's portrait. Is that the creature's inciting incident? It wonders what will become of it and if anyone cares. The woman's beauty makes it worse. There's regret and foreboding. That's how we feel when we first get into an arts-based inquiry—everything seems so clumsy and unknown. [Gothic face OHT 6. Keep displayed]

CAROL: Yes, some sort of doubling. Umm … Got it! We're staging our arts-based inquiry as a performance (laughs). And the performance is the rehearsal.

PATRICK: We can use the Frankenstein story to supply the spine for our playlet. In screenwriting, the spine is the passion that drives the protagonists, that's us, in this case, with our commitment to arts-based inquiry.

CAROL: Eventually as arts-based researchers we have to face up to the prospect of changing our teacher researcher selves. We have to take a long look at our self- portrait. We've tried to do that in our book by using a one- way mirror as in the narrative of self and a two-way mirror as in our written duographies and now in this two-hander playlet.

PATRICK: I like that. A doubling. And so, arts-based is a growing body … body as in self and in area of study … of methods of inquiry that evoke imaginative ways of seeing, feeling, and understanding …. We are also recasting the body as a site of discourse or as the corpus in educational research.

CAROL: Yes, the body is a form of representation that is so obviously linked to self-study and autobiographical approaches. I think we need to give folks more information about Mary Shelley's novel—you know, have the main action up front. So, Baron Frankenstein re-members a creature out of bits of corpses and brings it to life. The monster is called Frankenstein. So too are its creator and the novel.

PATRICK: OK …. We'll need some shrieks in our performance if we can't come up with some dramatic turning points. Can't just have unmotivated expository dialogue. Pity we can't wheel in Boris Karloff.

CAROL: Who? I think the death-in-life (or is it life- in-death?) of the Frankenstein will evoke the risks of trying out postmodern arts-based forms. Rejection and that other old worry: "But is it research?" Doing this kind of stuff is risky. You often feel that things are too hard to name or describe. They are always moving, even flying out of control. So, we wanted to alert others…

PATRICK: [interrupting] and ourselves!

CAROL: [agreeing and continuing] (Yes!)… to the dangers of doing arts-based research, especially when it's your own dissertation! Trust me. It is scary.

PATRICK: I do trust you. I was in the laboratory with you when you made it. But arts-based research could seem to border on arrogance. You know, the genius act of the mad scientist. "Look at me pushing the boundaries!" Sure! Of course others will feel defensive. They spend their whole professional careers learning about "the" one way to do research, then they have to teach themselves about qualitative and narrative self-study. And then what? Along comes this "arts-based" stuff.

CAROL: I think that the Frankenstein story will also warns us that the work will be rough-looking, lots of layers, seams, and loose ends. Bit like Jean Arp's paper collages, the ones he did to help preserve the role of chance and the unexpected in the creation. Our creature was also made up of torn pieces. [Remove OHT 6 and show Arp's quote,
pp. 182–183, Diamond & Mullen, 1999
] [OHT 7]

PATRICK: Yes, how many times have we rewritten/overwritten this play? How can we allow for random movement in our inquiry as in action painting? Misshapen. Collage-like. Make-overs. Palimpsests with the sewing showing. Bits and pieces but not just "anything goes." Materials re-used. Sounds like I'm reading from the restaurant menu!
[Definition of palimpsest OHT 8]

CAROL: Right. Left-overs being given new life.

PATRICK: Like memories re-emerging and being overlaid. Arts-based inquiry re-uses fictional approaches taken from the humanities. It shows us how experience is inevitably embodied and acted out ….

CAROL: [continuing] …with all its constructedness left showing as in our performance. Always a work-in- progress. Continually pushing against even what it is becoming.

PATRICK: Yes, the bricolaged will seem clumsy. Like it's unrehearsed. Like sewing without a clear pattern. A motley collection of parts. Pieces recycled.

CAROL: This free association of art and research may be too cryptic, not be understood.

PATRICK: [interrupting] Even be punished. We all know how the gods treated Frankenstein and his creation. Arts-based inquiry helps us also to defy the gods by representing our own practice. But will they get at us?

CAROL: [continuing] Of course. The Frankenstein metaphor will enrage as it helps us to engage with more of the complexity of doing a postmodern inquiry. Its reception will likely be unfriendly.

PATRICK: We are using the Frankenstein comparisons as a metaphor to structure our thinking about arts-based research.

CAROL: And to help free our selves in the process. Using a complex metaphor means we can move the smaller pieces into a larger, Frankenstein-like inquiry.

PATRICK: Yes, we are playing with the metaphor of how ideas are cobbled together in monster form.

CAROL: Right. We want the menacing aspects of Mary Shelley's story also to warn folks about the risks that may accompany arts-based inquiry. Like fear of things getting out of control if we don't nail them down.

PATRICK: Hence the appeal of Mary Shelley. There she was, a child hidden away in Scotland, refusing to conform to any expected identity. She imagined other possibilities by making up stories. And later, June 1816, she's only 19 and they're all by the lake in Switzerland that rainy summer. Percy her husband and Lord Byron. To while-away the time, they suggest a competition to write a ghost story about a monster. But only Mary succeeds.

CAROL: And what a classic. Dr. Frankenstein, an amateur experimenter uses the new fangled apparatus of electricity to bring corpses back to life. All hooked up and stitched together. He uses "reverse butchery" to defy God. That's his inciting event! To create, to give life.

PATRICK: And that's why we chose to do arts-based inquiry. It's like the drama of an electrifying current crackling on stage. Arts-based research is like that other bit from that Swiss philosopher-poet. [Reads from her notes shown on OHT]
"Without passion man [CAROL interrupts herself 'WOMAN!'] is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint that waits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark." [OHT 9]

PATRICK: Plenty of iron and spark in the Frankenstein story. Just as well Mary didn't include Percy's nightmare in her story. You know, where her eyes replaced her nipples.

CAROL: No "Ordinary People" here! [feigns being mortified while laughing]

PATRICK: Remember that film was also about a drowning on a lake.

CAROL: Maybe there's sexual tension between Percy and Byron. Lots of gender ambiguity by the lake.

PATRICK: Sometimes in arts-based you find yourself creating more than you can really explain. The work takes on a life of its own. Imagine the banner headline in the Chronicle of Higher Education or the Educational Researcher: "Researcher tangles with postmodernism." Or "Researcher breathes life back into her self."

CAROL: Remember how a journal reviewer snapped when you submitted that autobiographical piece about writing to reclaim self. What did she say?

PATRICK: It "marked narrative's degenerative turn to mere narcissism …."
[OHT 10] I now see that as a real badge of honor. You can't argue with a self-agnostic about how our teacher researcher identities may need to change when we do arts- based work. She wanted me to feel rejected like the monster out on the ice.

CAROL: So, how do we reassure critics?

PATRICK: Not by driving arts-based inquiry out beyond the pale.

CAROL: Byron was always jostled by crowds waiting to cold-shoulder him. They saw him as a deformed Lord, half demon-half deity. His ghost story that weekend had a vampire figure draining its victims.

PATRICK: Ironically, that's how Byron died himself: "bled, leeched, purged." Huge loss of blood. Another misfit outsider made into a monster by lack of understanding.

CAROL: A dramatic thunderstorm announced his death to Europe. Arts-based work also thrives on drama. No one method. Lots of blurring.

PATRICK: And fire! We could show the film clip of the villagers coming for Frankenstein with their burning torches! There's often real hostility to arts-based inquiry.

CAROL: And AERA seems to schedule such sessions at the end of the week! But the Frankenstein metaphor is our way of representing the challenge of arts-based inquiry. And there are so many forms that it makes possible.

PATRICK: Bit like a jazz piece with different parts criss-crossing. But it's hard to show each voice with its own authority. How to blend independent but parallel voices, and without any one part having the final say? We use such a mix of sources and forms, voices, and tenses in our work. Could be too confusing.

CAROL: Maybe we should list some arts-based possibilities. Real things for folks to try since we move in that direction with our book: [entry from book shown on OHT 11] Browse through the following items arranged for a garage sale of arts-based forms. Cobble together any of them to inquire into your teaching or research: [CAROL reads quickly and PATRICK chimes in, reading along]
a paradigm parable; a playful or abstract abstract; a collage assembled from the transcribed voices of a lesson; a dream journal and many different journals representing various teacher researcher selves; a text written across its own subject matter (a photo); a split text or palimpsest written over a former research paper you wrote; a shape or nonsense poem about your own name or work; a picture book or storyboard version of a teacher researcher's day; a sequence of magical or angry (my)stories; a fantastic class or staff room dialogue; a one act play in search of a plot; an introduction to a library thriller; a riddle, proverb, or fable about research in the future; or a duography or Möbius strip about collaborative inquiry.  

CAROL: There can't be any final resolution. The work provides its own (anti-) climax. Only a prolog to the next inquiry.

PATRICK: I never imagined that we ourselves would be writing let alone performing "a one act play in search of a plot." But whatever our work turns out to be, it better only take two more minutes because that's when we're due on.

CAROL: Overdue and I think I should have the last word!

PATRICK: Maybe I could end by combining images from Pauline Rosenau and Annie Dillard? You know, [reads from notes]
"The limbs and tissues of postmodern, arts-based inquiry overlap at the edges, rejecting the neat, mutually exclusive, jointly exhaustive groupings so clearly desired by modernist social scientist. Every mode is a now an option." [OHT 12]

CAROL: Yes, our special issue of Journal of Curriculum Theorizing [17(1), 2001] plays with that. So what can we say? Is postmodern arts-based inquiry like "brain damage caused by art." When we can't say elaborate, it's because we're afflicted by it. But what if our play seems brain damaged?

PATRICK: Maybe it will be a brainstorm. So, what do you think? Have we made any progress with our final rehearsal?

CAROL: Well, yes. We now know that the rehearsal is the performance.

PATRICK: Or is it the other way round?

Stage Directions:
[CAROL and PATRICK face each other, grab their materials and stuff them into their briefcases as though rushed for time. They energetically start to move off to their session, waving their arms and talking at the same time to each other, but in voices that are fading. Jazz track, "Nancy (with the laughing face)," again played] [Lights dim]

Postpartum, a body of opinion fears that,
even attaining fullness, the arts
cannot put/keep body and soul together.  
The post-body etherized upon a slab of marble.
Time for its predelivery inspection,
the body cavity search, the logosectomy,
the dire-gnosis, and then out into the word-world. 
Art takes its first awkward steps as inquiry,
gasping, lurching forth, stretching newfound limbs,
a patchquilt of ill-fitting parts.
Head, heart, fingers, and tail
all cast out from the dying zone.

Stage Directions End

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