Sojourn Theatre founding artistic director Michael Rohd is committed to civic dialogue. The core artists of Sojourn’s Oregon-based ensemble jointly create community-specific plays in locations across the country. Their works have explored issues including the urban/rural conversation, the human propensity for war, and business ethics versus personal responsibility. Sojourn’s documentary play Witness Our Schools toured statewide and influenced the Oregon legislature’s discussion of funding for public education.
Sojourn’s plays engage audiences not only in the performances but sometimes in the creation of scripts. Their recent Finding Penelope riffed on the life of Odysseus’s wife, who wove and unwove a tapestry each night of her husband’s 20-year absence. This new piece, which examines dementia using Penelope’s life as a framework, was created in a long-term care facility with the participation of patients and staff.
The theater company’s goals include “bring[ing] strangers together amidst experiences where the ethical possibilities of imagination are placed alongside the communal muscle of responsibility.” In Michael Rohd’s reflections below, he makes clear that some of his greatest artistic satisfactions result from an intentional “collision of brains.”
In my mind, co-authorship works if it follows one hard and fast rule: The maker engaged in co-making must be as interested in the contribution of the “other” as they are in their own voice.
So what does it mean, for something to “work” in the context of co-authorship? It means that however messy and challenging, the process of making rests on a foundation of respect. It also means that somewhere at the nexus of product, intention, and excellence, what gets made satisfies a collectively agreed upon definition of success.Read more >