Friday, 31 October 2008

DV8 and Verbatim Theatre

DV8, in all honesty was not how I thought it was going to be at all. My preconceptions were thrown out of the window. I thought I was going to watch an 80's style DV8 Peice. Instead I was faced with a very modern, up to date piece of Verbatim theatre which fused modern music, dance, technology and the words of real peoples stories about their experiences of Homo/sexuality, culture and religion. And I thought it was fantastic.

It was how I thought Verbatim theatre should be, theatrical, factual, moving, un-nerving and showed me the stories about these particular communities. It was realistic in the sense that it wasn't one sided, it showed both sides of opinion, the religious fanatics who think Homosexual practice is wrong, and those who think it right and those who think its wrong but practice it anyway.

The fact that I knew the stories where true really helped me to connect with the action on stage, I felt emotional connections with these stories because I knew that they were fact, it was real and therefore hit me harder than a fictional story could.

It made me think about community in the sense of how we rarely see these communities, especially if you are a white, straight female such as myself. The afro-carrabian communities who are gay, forced to hide, same for muslim homosexuals who cannot truly be themselves in public due to the fact they will constantly be abused if they do.

Lloyed Newson himself describes how he and his partner at the time in the early 1990's went on a gay pride march that went through an area of Brixton that was predominantly afro-caribbean and experienced abuse

'I was struck my the fact that people who themselves are part of a minority, many of whom must have experienced racism and racist abuse first-hand, were so willing to be abusive towards another minority' (Newson, cited from the To be Straight with You programme which I shall reference properly later)

This is interesting as it shows how minorities, or small communities can still have things against each other, they can still hate what other communities do, even though their own comminity is constantly under threat.

Friday, 24 October 2008


I had never heard of this style of Theatre before but rapidly became interested on what it could do for an audience

'The intimacy of the interview makes the audience feel as if the characters are talking to them directly and the relationship I had with the interviewee is that which the audience experiences. However the fact that these private moments have been transported into a public arena is what makes them all the more surprising, especially as they are re-enacted with the uncanny immediacy that the technique produces. The way people communicate in real life is far more absurd and inarticulate than we realize if we take time to stop and listen to it.'
This interested me bacause the hard facts that are presented on stage is directly presenting the opinions of people that might not necessarily be heard. One example that we heard was a play that was about soldiers fighting in Iraq where the audience got an idea of what they were experiencing through the medium of theatre.
We then talked about our own Verbatim Theatre project concerning Binge Drinking as it is something that is a common problem, not only in St Mary's College but nationally. The ambulance crew was called out many times during Freshers week due to students drinking too much, one person needed an ambulance twice in one week due to execive drinking. We talked about how older generations tend to binge drink as well and the fact that the drinking we do now as twenty-somethings could lead to problems later in life. Our task for reading week therefore is to interview people about binge drinking such as the paramedics who get called out due to alcohol related problems, taxi drivers, parents, pub landlords, freshers and the SU and AU presidents.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Cardboard Citizens and Forum Theatre

Although I already had an idea of what Forum Theatre was before I went into the Theatre I still didn't know exactly what to expect.

The performers weren't the polished 'shiny' drama school born actors that you might expect when you watch a show yet they pulled off a powerful, raw and touching piece of theatre which completely three my preconceptions. They told us three stories, one about a social worker having a tough time, a philipeono woman who was taken to work in England but was treated badly when she started the job and one about a boy in care.

As an audience we decided to look at the womans story. We picked out the key aspects of the story which we felt that something could have been done differently. It was interesting to watch as people from first, second, and third year drama took to the stage to take the place of the protagonist. The members of the cast in turn had to make it difficult for the protagoist to get their own way thus portraying that things don't always work out, that we have to work hard to get out of situations.

I liked that idea that Forum theatre can help show a group of people how to do things differently in a situation but I also liked that Cardboard Citizens didn't make pretty the outcomes, they didn't say that if you do this one thing differently everything will be good again. They were true to what they said and were honest about things not always turning out well as that would have been deceptive because life isn't easy.

In the post-show talk there were a few questions from the audience concerning offence. The joker didn't understand where we were coming from as as a company they have already had experiences with homelessness and do thorough research.

In the lecture on Thursday we talked about this further, we wanted to know if it would be offensive if, for example, a group of university students were to go into a hostel and perform a show about homelessness would be offensive, is it possible that we can portray this experience without experiencing.

to be cont

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Today we looked at how we tell stories, different techniques and how we could apply stories to a community based project.

We looked at telling autobiographical stories concerning 'going out'. I told Cara about a night out in a club in London where one of my friends was taking drugs and she in turn told me a story about how she went out when she was under age and couldn't get into any clubs. It was interesting how we told these stories, the gestures we use, the facial expressions. In honesty I wasn't keen on this exercises as I don't partucularly enjoy talking about myself but afterwards when we began looking at how we could take these stories and put them into workshop situations I began to think that our personal experiences can make a difference in somewhere you might not expect, even if you don't believe your story is 'good'.

As the story I told concerned issues about drugs we began thinking about how we could turn it into a play, using the issues within it to make a point and perhaps to workshop our ideas with a class of seniour school children.

I also began thinking about, although it may concern issues with privacy, but perhaps taking the autobiographical stories of the children themselves and creating a play from their ideas so that they could relate to the material even more.

Friday, 17 October 2008

What is a community?

The main question in the first session of community theatre was that of: What is community. Much of the session was concerned with defining community, different types of community, weather it is geographical, social, belief orientated, gender or race. I began thinking that community for me was the place I came from, my family and friends from home and that was that. However when we began breaking it down I realised that I did belong and still belong to many different communities, drama groups I used to belong to, school, choirs I sang in, and how I have dipped in and out of communities due to the choices I have made. I realised how much belonging to certain communities have an influence on your identity. I talked about how since moving to Twickenham I have picked up new accents, grown in confidence and now feel like a completely different person due to the fact I moved into a new geographical community.

We looked at inclusive and exclusive communities. For example if a community was made up soley of women, then it would be gender exclusive as a male would not be able to be a part of it. I started thinking about the communities that I have been exluded from or have felt excluded from. I realised that there were groups at school that I would have not been welcome in just because of social ranking, how poular I was and how this was a factor in who I could be friends with. However, If these certain people were in the same class as me, such as music then it would be perfectly okay to speak to them thus creating a 'music lesson' community. However as soon as we left these lessons I would suddenly be excluded from their community. It intrests me that In one context I could speak and be friends with these people, and in a different one, I could not.

On a larger scale this could also happen geographical, how someone, for example, from Liverpool wouldn't be welcome in Manchester just because of where they come from, yet if the two people found themselves in the same context as each other these differences might not matter as much.