Blog: Word for Word: Chichester Festival Youth Theatre

Word for Word, CFYT, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre, Volunteers
Youth Theatre members pose at the end of their performance of Word For Word

Between January and April of this year, 18 Year 11 Youth Theatre members and I were involved in creating a piece of Verbatim Theatre, a style of theatre where the text is taken directly from interview transcripts. As Youth Theatre intern, I was given the opportunity to run a project of my choosing. I decided to create and direct a piece of Verbatim theatre as it is a style that I had only ever written and thought about in an academic setting, never in any practical way. I asked for volunteers who would be interested in generating and performing such a piece.

The subject was to be Chichester Festival Theatre itself. The Youth Theatre members spent time deciding what aspects of this they were interested to find out about, before conducting interviews with those who work here, attend classes here or are Friends of the Theatre, about their memories, stories and experiences of the Festival Theatre. I then took these interviews and transcribed them, chopped them up and put them back together to form a script which we then rehearsed and performed. All stutters, repetitions and pauses were kept in and performed to keep the speech as authentic as possible and to allow the piece to be accurately described as Verbatim. After discussions and careful thought, we decided to set the piece at the Theatre in modern day.   As there is a lot of building work going on at the Theatre due to the RENEW project, we used artistic licence and imagined that our storytellers were the builders currently working here, and that they were re-telling stories they had overheard. The piece was performed twice, first on 20 April as part of the 2013 Festival of Events and secondly on 16 May to an invited audience of staff and volunteers. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from audience members, including those who had been interviewed as a part of the project. Many of the Youth Theatre members have expressed an interest in working on Verbatim theatre again in the future and I am incredibly proud of all that we achieved.