Director / Collaborator, REACT: Verbatim R & D, Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester, 2017

REACT is paid opportunity for groups of theatre-makers from the Open Exchange network to spend five days at the theatre, creating work in reaction to a provocation. The emphasis is on process rather than outcome and participants are encouraged to treat the week as a chance to play, learn from one another and develop the way they make work. There is an opportunity at the end of the week to share what has been explored.

This collaboration with Fine Comb Theatre Company explored the question: If the subject of the verbatim material is included in the theatre making process, what new insights into the artistic and ethical tensions of verbatim theatre might be discovered?

Taking an overall theme of mental health, we explored one of the collaborator’s history with anxiety, and another collaborator’s history with bulimia, working towards a short performance piece that would incorporate movement, as well as media footage of the interviews and making process. Both anxiety and bulimia are experienced very physically through the body and we hoped that working with movement would allow us to explore a verbatim ‘text’ that was physical as well as verbal.

The uniqueness of our exploration was that two of the collaborators each simultaneously occupied the space of verbatim source and theatre-maker. Through this experiment, we hoped to interrogate the relationship between source and theatre-maker, looking at both the ethical and artistic aspects.

The learning taken from this R & D will feed directly into works-in-progress piece Joy Unspeakable.

Transcribing Verbatim interviews

Transcribing Verbatim interviews

It is painstaking work

It is painstaking work

A few scribbles from our wall of thoughts

A few scribbles from our wall of thoughts

For more information about REACT please see here.