Foodways is the study of why we eat and what it means. Food means survival, but it also means ties to family, ethnicity, place, social settings, community and historical events. Poet Laureate, playwright, and folklorist Mary Swander will teach the participants in this class the art of interviewing with the goal of documenting the foodways of local immigrant communities.
We will capture personal stories, from work in local restaurants, to work in the Heinz plant, from family holiday celebratory meals, to church basement potlucks, from lunch in school cafeterias, to fishing on the banks of the Mississippi River. Then we’ll learn how these oral histories reflect and enhance the current culture of Muscatine, Iowa.
Swander will discuss methods of securing good interviewees, establishing rapport, asking appropriate questions, and shaping the oral histories into an organic whole. We will learn how to create monologues from the interviews that will hold an audience’s attention through character development, conflict, and metaphors with an underlining, resonant theme.
This interviewing class is the initial phase of a longer disciplinary project. The participants in this class will work with MCC students who will video the interviewing process. The shaped monologues will then be passed on to the theatre department who will help bring the monologues to the stage for a dynamic and entertaining evening of theatre. A documentary video of the entire process, from interviews to performing monologues, will cap off the project with excerpts distributed digitally through websites and social media.