Stillwater News Press

Local News

September 3, 2012

Oklahoma State professor researches ‘Oklahoma Voices’

STILLWATER, Okla. — Tell me your story.

It has been said that those four words are the most provocative in the English language.

Oklahoma State University Assistant Professor of Theater Jodi Jinks and her five research students will be using that imperative sentence many times in the next several months.

Jinks will be touring the state gathering personal stories and information for “Oklahoma Voices,” a devised theater creation that will be written, produced and performed by Oklahoma State students.

The play will be performed Feb. 13-17 at the OSU Seretean Center. Plans also include two matinee performances for high school students.

Auditions are slated for 6 p.m. Nov. 26 at the Seretean Center. Jinks said the cast will be comprised of about 12 OSU students.

The play is being produced by Kevin Doolen, the theater department head at OSU.

“It’s important to tell the stories of all the people in Oklahoma,” said Doolen, who assigned the project to Jinks. “There is so much to learn. Everybody’s story is of value. It’s their stories that we will celebrate.”

“People are dying to tell their story. We basically want to hear from the people of Oklahoma and their experiences,” said Jinks. “We are looking for stories about Native Americans, African Americans, people with Dust Bowl stories. We want to talk to people about their experiences with tornados, their stories about (the bombing of) the federal building in Oklahoma City.”

On Sunday, Jinks and one of her graduate teacher’s assistants were scheduled to travel to the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival and Powwow in Tuskahoma. Part of the program was a session from the descendants of the Code Talkers of World War I and II.

“We will record their interviews and ask them about their stories,” said Jinks. “We’ll do that with all of our interviews and research. We will store them on the computer and collate the information into categories.”

Jinks said it has not yet been determined if the information will be categorized by location, ethnicity or chronology.

“We’re gathering information right now,” she said.

In a few months, the research class will begin the process of creating production elements for the stage.

“We will physicalize the text,” said Jinks. “We will be looking for the best ways to use the language and how to use our bodies on stage.”

The production will include a musical score that will include some of Woody Guthrie’s songs about the Dust Bowl era.

Thomas Jaime, a student in the OSU music department, will write a song that will be performed during the play.

The project was made possible by a grant by Bob Lemon, a 1951 alumnus of OSU. Doolen did not say the exact amount of the grant, but said it is “quite substantial.” Doolen said that Lemon is underwriting all staffing and production costs.

Jinks comes to the assignment with experience. She has been creating devised theater in Austin, Texas, for the “Rude Mechanics,” a collaborative ensemble professional theater. She also is a professional stage and screen actress and will be performing this fall in New York City.

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