Ethics of Representation; Verbatim and Documentary Theatre Ellen Muriel, 26 January 2014 Looked at what happens when you attempt to put ‘real life’ on stage. Who do we have a responsibility too? Basically came up with a hell of a lot of questions! - What's the line between education & entertainment, how do these affect how we approach a story? - Depends entirely on your objective, what you see as your purpose when telling a story. - Was argued that documentary theatre has slightly more ethical freedom than verbatim as people are aware that it's not trying to be exactly like ‘real life’. - Verbatim - everyone has different ideas about where the line is, between whats ok and whats not in terms of editing and tampering with the material. - Oral History society provides guidelines for dealing with people, protecting their identities and their stories. - It's important, above all, that you are honest about the process you've used, whether it is verbatim or documentary or combining the two. - Important that we acknowledge that the work may not be just for educating or entertaining but providing witness. - What's the meaning of ‘based’ on a true story. It can be seen as limiting due to the restrictions of the story. - Collecting the material and editing it into a play is a reductive process, as there is no way that you can tell the ‘whole’ story. Does this mean fiction may be more ‘true’ than truth? - Discussing the national archive and the ‘The House’ by James Graham. - What do you do when you can't mind the story your searching for? Is it more important that you tell the story you set out to tell or that let the process develop organically into it's own story. - Why does it matter if it has really happened? - It is crucial that you take responsibility for the stories we want to tell, whether they are our own or other people's. Need to be honest about our process. - When working with people it is about developing their trust, which can not be bought or won over quickly. - Need to ask the question ‘what form is better for this story?’ it is all so specific on the project itself. - If we move away from the ‘truth’ is it messy or is it exciting? - Is it important that we know if it's true? Yes if it is sold to us as the truth as we then perceive it differently. - There is not just an editorial process in the making of verbatim and documentary theatre but also in the making of history, it;s important that we acknowledge that when discussing the art forms. - Verbatim can't be everything, the transcript can't cover everything. Having the status of ‘true’ or ‘real life’ doesn't suddenly ensure that it is everything. It is still only a viewpoint or a side of events. - We have a responsibility to history. - Testimonial theatre where the people who's stories they are are performing on stage themselves rather than actors performing their transcript. What difference does that detachment mean? What priorities do the performers have? How do reviews affect their performances? Do they have any desire to create ‘good’ theatre? Or is their loyalty to their stories alone? - Defining responsibility. How meaningful are terms such as ‘ethical’? Several conflicting dimensions to terms like this. - ‘ethics exist in its own impossibility.’ It not really being possible is what attracts us, need to keep challenging it. - Ethics are a set of questions. They are framed by something, is this framework temporary? - Do we just want to feel charitable? Is that why we go to verbatim shows about devastating issues? Paying money and sitting through the experience makes us feel like we're giving something back. We come out feeling outraged, our emotional reaction makes us feel involved in the struggle.