(Re)Presentation in Verbatim Theatre
Using a range of interpretive methodologies and based on both the practice of others and the author’s production, direction and evaluation of a series of shows this thesis explores a number of aspects of verbatim theatre presentation and re-presentation (restaging). The form of verbatim theatre discussed is primarily that deriving from personal interview material and the predominant thesis focus is one of Australasian context and practice. The thesis is in two separate sectons with strongly related aims; the first section aiming to clarify and support the second. The first section answers questions about verbatim theatre evolution, processes and practices through both reviews of literature and interviews with prominent practitioners. It reveals vitality and diversity in VT practice, breadth and depth of scholarship in both Australia and New Zealand. It illuminates the processes and practices of creating and performing a verbatim play to support those who may consider doing so. The second section describes and evaluates the performance of re-presentations in August 2015 of the VT play We’ll Meet Again. This play had been developed in 1994 from interviews with war veterans to create a theatrical event honouring a generation whose common experience was involvement in the Second World War. The actors in the re-presentation were all students at Toi Whakaari:New Zealand Drama School and the show was performed in nine venues over six days. Audiences were predominantly elderly although those at community centre venues were of a range of ages. Tools used to evaluate the performances included audience survey forms with room for written comments, observations of audience responses and verbal feedback and interviews with actors. The remarkably positive survey responses and powerful written and oral testimony support the argument that a re-presentation of verbatim theatre has the potential to reinstate and broaden further the impact, appeal, value and aims of the original work. This argument is further supported with the formation of guidelines to present research findings as well as supporting, in a practical and immediate way, those embarking on re-presentation. A selection of images and performance video, illustrating the context and findings of the research are included in the thesis document.