Verbatim Theater and Why

Verbatim theatre is a form of documentary theatre which is based on the spoken words of real people. In its strictest form, verbatim theatre-makers use real people’s words exclusively, and take this testimony from recorded interviews. However, the form is more malleable than this, and writers have frequently combined interview material with invented scenes, or used reported and remembered speech rather than recorded testimony. There is an overlap between verbatim theatre and documentary theatre, and other kinds of fact-based drama, such as testimonial theatre (in which an individual works with a writer to tell their own story) and tribunal theatre (edited from court transcripts).

 -Drama Online


At this point in time Other (please specify): is verbatim in the strictest sense, using only words said by other people during firsthand interviews. I also intend to match the original intonation, rhythm, timing, pronunciation, and cadence (to the fullest extent possible).

Personally, I’m interested in verbatim theater because of its ability to bring the seldom heard perspectives of ordinary people to light. I don’t think that theater needs to be high brow, written by playwrights, or showy. I think there’s a place for smaller, less ambitious, community oriented pieces that talk about real human experiences and shed light on topics that may not get discussed as often or as openly as they could be.

Of course, part of me also balked at the idea of writing an entire piece on my own, and it’s much easier to interview others and then splice their words together than it is to write a cohesive piece from top to tail. I also toyed with the idea of discussing my thoughts and experiences with friends that have similar backgrounds to mine before attempting to write a thing (maybe even just a small internet article), but it all came back to being exclusively from my perspective and that felt rather, well, masturbatory. This feels more like an act of service.