Sisters: A Digital Story
Phyllis Jane Rose
Phyllis Jane Rose, who has directed more plays and musicals than one can count and has been in on the ground floor of many new theaters, performance art pieces, and radio shows, now lives and works in Adelaide, South Australia. Currently she is the artistic director of No Strings Attached, a theater with and for artists with disability.
"Sisters" was created in a workshop where Phyllis was asked to create a digital story about something that meant a lot to her. She decided to tell the story about her sister and herself as a kind of apology for being a rather mean older sister. She was drawn, she says, to the strictness in the construction of this form of storytelling: two hundred and fifty words, a dozen or so pictures, and no longer than two minutes. Her teacher informed her that digital stories are a bit like sonnets—multimedia sonnets from the people.
The resulting digital story was due to a happy accident: "I knew I had an old shirt box full of photos somewhere of my sister and me. I could not find it anywhere. I looked for several hours, in every drawer, every cupboard, every book shelf. No photos. Then I started looking through scrapbooks and envelopes of photos—trying to find something to do with my sister. The final digital story contains none of the images I had imagined when I earlier wrote the text. I had to make do with whatever I had. Ironically, I think it’s better this way. Not at all literal. So the viewer has more room to get inside the story."
We at Persimmon Tree agree with her. The juxtaposition of the sisters’ photos as adults and the story of them as children is surprising and complex, like holding their whole life in a single moment. We’re proud to be the first online magazine (as far as we know) to introduce this form of digital storytelling to our readers. Enjoy!
Phyllis Jane Rose has worked in Nicaragua, Indonesia, the U.S., and Australia with youth, adults, and elders in Indigenous, multi-cultural, multi-gender, and disability
communities. She has directed over 50 productions, including 25 premieres of new scripts. From 1976-1987 she co-directed the award-winning company At the Foot of the Mountain in
Minneapolis. In 1988 she began traveling internationally, supporting herself by driving taxi cabs, looking for ways to reconcile apparently contradictory passions for feminist
theatre, Indigenous politics, and musical comedy. PJ is artistic director of No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability.
See website: www.nostringsattached.org.au
11 Dec 2011, 22:12
I'm pleased to see that you were able to learn from your younger sister
Susan and become "silly and take a risk". I only wish I had taken the time
to get to know you.
I'm looking forward to our lunch in April of 2012 where you can sign
another play bill for me.
Professor Mike Guimond
18 Nov 2010, 10:15
What a thrill to find you and this tribute after so many years. You are as
talented as ever... probably more so. Best of everything from a former and
aging ($@#%!!) student. Have a great life...and thanks!
08 Sep 2010, 21:12
Phyllis, once again you write my life. Thank you. One of your former board
members from At the Foot of the Mountain.
You are so gifted.
19 Aug 2010, 21:52
A marvelous piece, Phyllis...I've learned more about you in this 2+ minute
piece than I did working with you in Minneapolis...
30 Jul 2010, 10:25
Phyllis,simply brilliant as always. As a sister and a daughter it touched
16 May 2010, 18:01
What a little gem! Your words, your voice and your pictures in this format
was a delightful and poignant surprise.
11 May 2010, 17:38
Phyllis, this is a lovely digital story, simple, complicated, seemingly
artless & very well told. Brava!
11 May 2010, 12:06
A (new to me) powerful form of story, that is perfect for capturing
memories and lives. Thank you.
02 May 2010, 05:49
10 Apr 2010, 23:31
I love how we realize what counts, the older we get.
I am so glad to have and be a sister, and to read your story!
10 Apr 2010, 08:41
I loved it! It's a well-told story made more interesting with the photos. I
find it fascinating to ponder how sibling relationships change over the
31 Mar 2010, 15:08
Phyllis, thanks for the story, thanks for the form, thanks for sharing. A+
on all scores. And thanks to Persimmon for publishing it!!
28 Mar 2010, 19:15
Phyllis, This was a chance to "see" and hear you after many years and
lives. The story was succinct and perfect. It reminds me of the new ways
possible to share our tales and open our hearts. You were always ahead of
your time. Michele
18 Mar 2010, 21:34
What a story! Simple, clear, and powerful. Subtle. Well written. I love the
form, which is new to me, and both the visual and auditory content.
This piece was a delightful way to begin exploring this site.
B. Lynn Goodwin
Author of You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers
17 Mar 2010, 10:31
This is a fantastic piece! Thank you for sharing the content as well as
the form. I want to try it myself!
16 Mar 2010, 13:05
What an interesting form! I loved hearing about these two sisters.
Certainly a complicated relationship (as with all sisters), well-described
in such a short time.