Back at University and it's been a bit of a Verbatim fest. On Tuesday night we hosted an inset with Richmond Theatre for local secondary school teachers on approaches to the form and tonight I headed off to Wilton's Music Hall to see the latest Max Stafford-Clark, Robin Soans collaboration Mixed Up North, a piece exploring inter faith relationships amongst a youth drama group in Burnley. The conceit is that the audience are a group of liberal minded visitors invited up from London by group community worker Trish, played by Celia Imrie, who've popped in to see the dress rehearsal for a play performed by the group. The process is slow as each character has to negotiate their inhibitions and the often spiky group dynamic, but these lulls in the stage action offer ample opportunity for cups of tea to be made, stories to be told and a sense of community to be created.
The show never happens as the leading man is persuaded by his girlfriend, who thinks 'drama is gay', to walk out. A hastily arranged question and answer session is organised, which allows for some prolonged talking heads. At this point the editing becomes clunky as each character uses their spotlight to tell a story of neglect or abuse, before the return of the leading man and a hastily arranged final run through.
Verbatim as a form is developing, we're beginning to hear new music, but I still think it's at its best when it produces a cacophony of voices merging and inter cutting rather than a series of blanket monologues. It's as much a study of how place, time and other people affect our words as it is a platform from which to voice our own stories.