Sisters: A Digital Story

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!

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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:

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