Athabasca s Going Unmanned is set in a youth offender jail in
Alberta, Canada and tells the story of three incarcerated youth and
the corrections staff who work with them. The story centres on an
escape plot hatched by the inmates and ultimately examines the
needs of incarcerated youth and the prospects for offering them
programming with transformative potential. Based on extensive
research with at-risk youth and incarcerated youth, the play
addresses a range of real-world issues with sociological, criminal
justice, policy and educational implications. Moreover, issues of
race and ethnicity feature prominently. The play raises many
challenging issues at the level of fantasy and imagination in order
to draw attention to and elicit discussion around these
controversial issues. As a means of disseminating the research,
ethnodrama aims to engage a more diverse audience and engender
empathic understandings of the experiences of incarcerated youth
leading to more constructive attitudes regarding their needs, with
the potential for radically re-envisioning social relations. The
book is an ideal supplemental text for courses in education,
sociology, criminology/ criminal justice, theatre arts and
arts-based research. The fictionalized format invites readers to
engage with complex questions without relying on an authoritative
text that closes off meaning-making. Rather, readers are invited
into the meaning-making process as they engage with the play and
its alternative endings.Diane Conrad is Associate Professor of
Drama/Theatre Education in the Department of Secondary Education at
the University of Alberta. The research upon which the play is
based, in 2006, was awarded the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council of Canada Aurora Prize recognizing a new
researcher building a reputation for exciting and original research
in the social sciences or humanities.
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