Old Vic project part two (by Kritika Arya)

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.


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