This entire production relies on the premise that our lives are socially constructed, politics, economics, you name it, everything, is part of, subject to and shaped by the human condition. A group of individuals, adults and young adults, happened upon each other as people often do and together have tried to reach out and make more sense of their lives. As Siphenathi says at one point in this story when the Production Team were talking about the legacy of the struggle and it's impact on their future, 'I think you must be eager.' Each of us brought our own experience, theory and philosophy to the table. The movie 'Under Investigation' is one representation of the resulting, ambiguous, amalgam.
My own part in this was underpinned by previous experience especially in Big Wide Talk, a ten year project to develop a new approach to public service. Here I had learned to work with six interacting elements of practice, of equal importance; thinking and talking, doing exciting things with children, letting everyone speak, being together, documenting and telling our stories to instigate change. The theoretical underpinnings are set out in 'Big Wide Talk, a new kind of thing.'
The idea is that the creation of an event, a production of one sort or another within a community about the life of that community can be a vehicle for development, social and economic. The development, however, does not happen by magic. Rather it is deliberately provoked by shared reflection and collective action. The practice is never linear nor is it ever neutral. There must always be shared ambition inviting shared achievement. A production can be, as here, a Theatre of Learning or the making of a film. Here the young people chose to take part in order to understand their history and to do exciting things. Past members of Black Sash and myself took part to understand our history and to do exciting things. It is not difficult to see how the continual production of Theatres of Learning, run in association with local schools could generate income and develope skills. A fuller description can be found in 'Big Wide Talk a new kind of thing' (link to download 'Kindle' and epub versions of the e-book)
Each of the interacting elements named above were used often simultaneously and always informally and consciously. There were few rules. The agenda was fluid but desired outputs were always achieved. It was as if we were out on the ocean mapping and documenting what we found and learned, catching its fishes with the widest possible nets. In 'We will shine' we used one dimensional categories to organise the film footage, dividing what the young children did into blocks of film which could be presented to others in meaningful order. In Under Investigation we formulated our thinking through dialogue. We reflected on the shared experience and documented what we had learned. The film is therefore arranged to show how the Production Team themselves made sense of their experience.
One could argue that we hadn't learned much. There are many loose ends to this story but the threads of reason and purpose are clear and available to the Under Investigation Production Team. An identity among them, as a valued and enquiring force, has emerged.