Our Lower Sixth A Level Theatre Studies pupils decided that they should follow Blythe’s example and produce their own piece of ‘Verbatim Theatre’.
With the pandemic as their theme, the pupils interviewed a range of people with differing experiences of life in lockdown. These ranged from front line workers, including a care home worker, a doctor and a funeral director, to those with underlying health issues, those who had lost family members and, at the other end of the spectrum, those who had enjoyed the time at home with their families. With over ten hours of interview material recorded the pupils edited the material into a thirty-minute performance piece for their A Level Theatre Studies exam in our Black Box Studio Theatre, Big School.
Daisy (I), who played both the care home worker and a young schoolgirl, reflects on the challenges of gathering the interviews. “I found the interview process difficult as it was something I had never done before and it was hard to ask people to talk about their experiences without it seeming insensitive.”
George (H), who played the funeral director, felt that representing those they interviewed on stage was a big responsibility. “It was weird playing real people because we wanted to depict them accurately and not offend them. Having them come and see the play was terrifying because you knew, on stage, you were playing the feelings and experiences of a real person and that real person was there in the audience. Daisy, who played Linda, had to talk about her father having dementia and that couldn’t have been easy for Linda to hear.”
Daisy added: “Luckily both Terry and Linda were really supportive and felt we took our job seriously.”
He brought home how isolated, lonely and worried people felt during the lockdown. It was a scary time for a lot of people.
Terry, the funeral director who consented to be interviewed for the project, said: “It was flattering to see an actor play you and they were respectful with what we told them. I think they did an amazing job of choosing the best bits from our rambling stories and produced something that, I thought, was really enlightening and showed the different sides to people’s pandemic experiences.”
The cast also included Bay (H) and Matthew (E) who played a variety of roles. Linda, the care home worker, added: “Daisy did a brilliant job of playing me and she captured all my mannerisms to a tee. I was also impressed by the acting of Matthew who played the man suffering from cancer as he brought home how isolated, lonely and worried people felt during the lockdown. It was a scary time for a lot of people.”