Exploring verbatim with LUNG Theatre
This week, a group of students from Warwick’s Theatre department took part in a workshop with LUNG Theatre before watching their latest production, Trojan Horse, at the Warwick Arts Centre. This was a really exciting (and free!) experience and serves as a great example of the kinds of opportunities that studying Theatre at Warwick provides.
LUNG Theatre are a company which focuses on producing verbatim plays, a theatre form in which the production’s script is made up of interviews – instead of performing a fictional script written by a playwright, verbatim theatre puts the real words of real people on stage. It was really interesting to delve into the strengths and weaknesses of verbatim, exploring ideas such as representation, truth, authenticity and how narratives are created.
During the workshop, we experimented with different techniques for creating verbatim theatre. One activity involved recording short interviews and then speaking the recorded words out loud as we listened to them through headphones. We then began putting different interviews together, creating a verbatim duologue, which provided a fascinating insight into how verbatim pieces are made. I’ve encountered verbatim a few times whilst studying drama but this technique was completely new to me and it was really refreshing to explore verbatim in such a practical, creative way. I also enjoyed how collaborative the workshop was – the workshop leaders ensured that we all had equal opportunities to voice our opinions and ask questions which led to really rich, interesting conversations.
After a few practical activities and discussions, we also had the opportunity to learn more about the company and their creative process. Hearing about the projects LUNG Theatre have worked on in the past and the impact their work has had on communities was really inspiring. The company members were also incredibly approachable, engaging and passionate about their work which created a really positive and empowering environment.
In the evening we attended a performance of Trojan Horse, the company’s new piece about the Trojan Horse scandal which had involved several schools in Birmingham. It was a really captivating production and I felt that the simple staging was hugely effective in putting the voices of those who were affected by the event centre stage. Verbatim theatre allows you to hear the stories of those whose voices might typically be drowned out by the media and Trojan Horse was a great example of how powerful theatre can be in terms of exploring the real impact of political events from new perspectives.
Studying with the Theatre department at Warwick opens up lots of opportunities to engage with a great variety of theatre companies and practitioners including Warwick alumni working in the theatre industry. With the Warwick Arts Centre on campus and strong transport links to London and Birmingham, there are always exciting opportunities to see new work and to get involved in theatre projects.