Stories Create Change

Posted on 04 April 2017

Wem Etuknwa playing Ochna the elephant. Hip hop clothing with researched African face painting.

Wem Etuknwa playing Ochna the elephant.
Hip hop clothing with researched African face painting.

People think I’m crazy. For decades now I have been saying that if we change our culture’s stories we will start seeing important social changes.

I have worked to found various community groups, I wrote policy for an Australian political party, I have helped charities. The most effective thing I have ever done is write musicals.

With theatre people directly see and hear human beings. All the mirror neurons are firing at full force creaing empathy with my characters. Songs and music allow people to engage emotionally with events. If the story is well constructed people will remember the show as part of their own experience and use it to inform how they see the world and how they interact with it.

When my show Heard of Elephants, a musical about elephant conservation, was performed last year I made sure people had some way to take action immediately after each performance. I selected a relevant charity, acquired a couple of their donation tins, and had my actors hold the tins at the theatre exits for people’s coins. Only when we opened the tins we didn’t find just coins. We had fifty and twenty dollar bills. The charity had never seen that sort of generosity before.

So yes, I am now trying to save the world one musical at a time. I’m happy. My audiences are happy. And we seem to be making some headway in creating a better world. Stories create change.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine


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