SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

Verbatim Theatre: looking beyond binaries


Date: 8 October 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 8 October 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Webinar

A creative journey that captures urgent and contentious conversations through nuanced and personal testimonies.

Last year, Bhuchar Boulevard was invited for a residency at SOAS to examine individual and institutional responses to decolonisation through a new piece of work.

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Verbatim Theatre: looking beyond binaries

Decolonisation: not just a buzzword... a headphone verbatim show emerged from capturing campus conversations that wove the compelling narratives shared by interviewees and recorded by the creative team. This show is now at the Festival of Ideas with an online performance and Q and A on 24th October from 5-7pm.

In this session Sudha Bhuchar and Neela Dole┼żalová from the core creative team will share their journey of using verbatim theatre to make work that democratises theatre to amplify voices of under-served communities and bring compelling stories into one conversation.

Verbatim theatre is also known as ‘non-fiction theatre’ or ‘documentary theatre’ and has been a powerful tool in presenting some of the most complex and political stories of our times. Examples include Trojan Horse by Lung Theatre (examining the claims of extremism in Birmingham schools), much of director Nicolas Kent’s work such as The Colour of Justice based on the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry, Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Freedom and Alecky Blythe’s verbatim musical, London Road about the murders of sex workers in Ipswich.

Sudha and Neela will provide an overview of the technique -from its creation in a rehearsal room by American artist, Anna Deavere Smith to Mark Wing-Davey’s workshop in London which inspired other artists. Sudha and Kristine Landon-Smith, director of Bhuchar Boulevard’s piece, were introduced to the form through Louise Wallinger and their collaboration, The Trouble with Asian Men challenged the trope of Asian men being ‘trouble’ rather than ‘troubled’.

Sudha and Neela will lead the session and introduce the spectrum of approaches to verbatim and share examples from their own individual and collective work including Sudha’s My Name is..., crafted from the true story of Molly Campbell -- a dual heritage Scottish/ Pakistani girl who made headlines in 2006 -- and distilled the Islam versus the West agenda into an intimate and complex story of one family.  Neela’s headphone verbatim play, The Talk, explored the personal and political history of sex education in England.

The evening will examine areas such as the ethics of engagement, the audience contract, and the choices made by artists.  The evening is experiential and the audience will be able to listen deeply, empathise on behalf of subjects through illustrated examples by actors.  

The presentation will be followed by a Q&A session chaired by Dr. Amina Yaqin and they will also be joined by Suman Bhuchar, contributing artist for Decolonisation: not just a buzzword...

Extracts will be performed by Naveed Khan, Anna Nguyen, Hussina Raja & Ragevan Vasan who will also be available to answer any questions.

Please be advised that this session will be recorded for future teaching purposes.

Organiser: Bhuchar Boulevard, Arts Council England, SOAS South Asia Insitute, SOAS Festival of Ideas

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