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Verbatim

Technique

In order to create an authentic piece of verbatim theatre, it is vital to build honest relationships with the people at the heart of the story, and an intimate connection to the world or locale.

In this practical workshop, I share the personal experiences, and the practises I have developed through writing my own verbatim dramas; The Countess and

In The Tall Grass.

ver·ba·tim

adverb & adjective

in exactly the same words as were used originally.

The verbatim technique is a form of documentary theatre in which plays are constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed about a particular event or topic. This technique allows you to deliver rich authentic writing by capturing the natural rhythm of a contributor's speech, absorbing all the textures, sounds and fabric of real life. 

WORKSHOP OVERVIEW

In this practical masterclass, I share my personal experiences with verbatim technique to inspire an immersive approach to creating authentic and ethical verbatim theatre. By exploring and discussing the work of well-known verbatim playwrights including Alecky Blythe (London Road) and Moisés Kaufman's Tectonic Theater Project (The Laramie Project), participants will gain an understanding of the technique, including the ethics, practicalities, and logistics of creating a verbatim play.

I distil my process, from identifying a good story to the intensive research period that follows. I explain how to build relationships with potential contributors, how to conduct a great interview, and finally, the transcription and editing process -  shaping the collected source material to form an original and dynamic piece of theatre. Specifically, I discuss the different practices I employed on both The Countess and In The Tall Grass, sharing raw interview recordings and footage, as well as clips from performances of both pieces.

I am passionate about this organic method of theatre-making and storytelling and am excited to be able to share my experiences with writers who may be discovering the technique for the first time. Verbatim plays attract high-profile criticism and spark impassioned debate - writing a good one is all about the ability to cut to the core of a story in a way that resonates with people. That's what makes it a powerful way to engage with an audience and tell true stories on stage.

FURTHER READING

Verbatim Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre

Edited by Will Hammond & Dan Steward

Oberon Books, 2012

Telling the Truth: How to Make Verbatim Theatre

By Robin Belfield

Nick Hern Books, 2018

An introduction to Verbatim Theatre

Featuring verbatim practitioners Alecky Blythe,

Nadia Fall, David Hare and Nicolas Kent

National Theatre, London

V is for Verbatim Theatre

By Michael Billington

​The Guardian, 2012

WORKSHOP FEEDBACK

Since introducing this specialist workshop in 2016, 100% of participants surveyed rated the workshop as 'Excellent'. In addition, 99% of participants surveyed said that the workshop covered useful material with rare first-hand insight and was well presented; with helpful handouts and visual aids.

It was so well planned and executed; a variety of tools were offered to help me continue working

on my writing skills, specifically for verbatim theatre.

Interesting content. Paul was very knowledgeable on the subject. I really enjoyed it.

Now I feel confident that I'm equipped with the necessary tools and know-how to write my verbatim play.

I can't wait to get out in the field and start work! Thank you.