The end of our first year film:
And the start of our first year:
On Tuesday 4th February, Steve Winter came to Central Saint Martins to brief us on our verbatim commission with the Old Vic and to address any of our concerns that we had. We were to interview the person we had chosen from the Housed auditions that we attended earlier on in the week.
In layman’s terms, Verbatim theatre is documentary theatre, where the writer uses the words of the individual and then goes on to edit it, in order to turn it into a piece of theatre. For our piece, we were asked not to alter or change anything our interviewee said. The challenge was to use the interview as it was and then to cut it down and make it interesting for an audience. This meant that in our interview we had to ask the right questions and find a topic that would create an enjoyable monologue/duologue.
The following Tuesday, we went to the Old Vic New Voices offices where we were to conduct our interview. Personally, I was petrified as I kept thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong during the interview. The number one concern was that my interviewee would run out of things to say and I wouldn’t be able to draw conversation ending instantaneously. It is a big challenge to connect with your interviewee in such a short span of time and try to create a story with questions that don’t lead them in any way.
However, once I met my Kandy, my work had been cut out for me. The interview went off smoothly, no technical or verbal difficulties occurred and I genuinely could not stop myself from listening. The only problem I found was that there was too much information and trying to cut down an hour and a half of dialogue into ten minutes of entertainment would be difficult.
When I thought that the interview would be the most challenging part of this commission, I was proven wrong almost immediately. We had a week to submit our pieces to Steve Winter. Transcribing the interview was the bane of my entire existence. It literally took days to get it down, no matter how apps and tools I used to slow the recording down; it was just unbearable, fast paced and tedious. We don’t realise the words, hesitations, sounds and phrases that our common to our regular speech pattern when speaking to someone informally. The hard part is writing down all the common verbal ticks we have like ‘umm…hmmm…ah’ and many others. However, the end result was absolutely satisfying because once you have the entire interview on your screen it makes it so much easier to edit. And I found so many moments spread across the entire interview that were absolute gems that needed to be in the final cut.
I really enjoyed working on my verbatim project because I could not have written or thought of a story like that even if I wanted to. Real life experiences can sometimes be unbelievable, coincidental, exciting and powerful which make for some great theatre. I am really looking forward to next term where we will be workshopping our pieces with actors and a director.
On an early Sunday morning, we were privileged to be invited to an audition workshop at the Old Vic conducted by Steve Winter for their latest community play, Housed. Each audition was 90 minutes long with 40-75 people participating in each session.
The main aim of these workshops was to get people to work together and see if they were able to take direction. The session began with a very energetic warm up which played around with eye contact and pacing. Music and rhythm was an important factor throughout the process as it kept the adrenaline pumping and helped to keep the participants focused throughout. Eventually, they were made to form teams of five and had to come up with a commonality amongst them to create a name. There was a lot of playing with energy and character and people opening up to one another in the span of five minutes which is rare in real life.
It was a quick taster of what it would be like to be on stage and deal with what is asked of you when you are in that position. They were given some basic pointers on spatial awareness and reminded about audiences and what they perceive. The participants were not professional actors but they were able to pick up on reactions and responses in their interactions with one another.
Another aim of this audition was to find the person who would act instinctively without overacting that normally comes in when people are made to read certain texts like Shakespeare. They were given lines from songs and they had complete freedom to say it in any order and to think about space and the interaction that they had with one another. Some people would just react to the other person’s line in a very naturalistic way and created a “watchability” factor when certain individuals performed.
It was a really interesting experience to watch and see how anyone can perform if given the right direction and how some people just have the instinct to build on the direction given to them naturally. As a writer, it made me think about the complexity of lines and how powerful a line can be if it is simple and delivered with direct intent. . I recently graduated from the University of York where I had weekly voice and movement classes, where we had to perform and act like a team in order to reap the benefit from those classes. It was great to see how they incorporated the physicality and basic acting exercises in order to create a sense of comradeship between people who had just met. This allowed me to reminisce about when I was first made do workshops like these with people I barely knew at the time. I now understand the importance of the work that we did and with this opportunity I got to see firsthand the process and the result at the Old Vic.