The Utter Emptiness of Verbatim Theatre

February 1, 2018

I’m reading about what appears to be a minor trend in the UK, called “verbatim theatre.”

The premise:

By giving actors only the actual words of real people, verbatim theatre is the closest that theatre can get to objective truth – no dramatic licence required.”

This utter flatulence comes from the same mindset that employs the term” narrative” — the nihilist. “Authenticity guaranteed” is like saying Taco Bell is real Mexican food. Rather than having to craft a plot, create character, write engaging imaginative scripts that demonstrate the development of ideas from premise to conclusion, the “playwright” here becomes a curator of found phrases. How easy! Anyone can do it! These people are so far off the mark, it’s not funny. It is more deconstruction — which is the destruction of that which makes writing worthwhile and turns it into the mere shaping of that which is not worthwhile.

“Theatre will never entirely rid itself of ‘opinion’ or ‘agenda’. And why would it want to?”

“Relevance” — a concept which has no place in the arts, least of all to Theater — makes a political soapbox of the stage. Just like Clifford Odets. the Communist for whom the stage was a platform for his invidious ideals. Read some of his scripts and see just how perverse his writing was.

“…in the majority of cases it’s the playwright’s truth that is being reflected: truth filtered through their imagination, metaphor and craft.”

The fundamental misunderstanding of the post-modernists is precisely this: that there is no Truth. “Co-equal narratives” and “authenticity” are the lies that these misguided pseudologists employ to replace the Truth and Beauty they, unlike the great artists of the Western tradition, have never been able to discover. Their starting point, to the contrary, is: emptiness and meaninglessness of everything outside of themselves. But man is small — if we rest on man, we rest on virtually nothing. This is their catastrophe: the postulate that leads them nowhere.

There are far higher ideals in the Theater than the mere regurgitation of one’s mundane personal experience. Verbatim indeed.

Read it for yourself here:

‘Authenticity guaranteed’: Robin Belfield on why verbatim theatre is so important right now

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Wyntner Woody