Unit Overview


This unit explores a genre of theatre that has gained importance and popularity in recent theatre history.  Verbatim Theatre involves the creation of theatre that is drawn from word-for-word interviews with real people.  It has been used to explore events in recent history such as 9/11, the murder of Matthew Shepard, and the race riots in Los Angeles. It also documents the voices of people from the margins, such as homeless youth or caregivers from the Philippines. Students might be familiar with the genre of the docudrama from prior drama courses, but they will certainly be familiar with reality television that has exploded in the last decade. Verbatim Theatre is designed to deepen their encounter and exploration of reality-based dramas.  The unit could be used as the groundwork for the creation of a Verbatim theatre performance piece around a theme that is loosely explored in the unit: the theme of change. 


The Verbatim Theatre unit will be scaffolded through voice, movement, storytelling and interviewing activities to invite students into the process of recreating 'reality' both as an actor and as a writer. The unit will culminate in a polished performance piece that was developed from earlier lessons.


A1. The Creative Process: use the creative process  and a variety of sources and forms, both individually and collaboratively, to design and develop drama
A2. Elements and Conventions: use the elements and conventions of drama effectively in creating individual and ensemble drama works, including works based on a variety of global sources;
A3. Presentation Techniques and Technologies: use a variety of presentation techniques and technological tools to enhance the impact of drama works and communicate for specific audiences and purposes.
B1. Critical Analysis Process: use the critical analysis process to reflect on and evaluate their own and others’ drama works;
B2. Drama and Society: demonstrate an understanding of how societies present and past
use or have used drama, and of how creating and viewing drama can benefit individuals, groups, and communities;
B3. Continuing Engagement: identify knowledge and skills they have acquired through drama activities, and ways in which they can apply this learning in personal, social, and career contexts.
C1. Concepts and Terminology: demonstrate an understanding of the nature and functions of drama forms, elements, conventions, and techniques, including the correct terminology for the various components;
C3. Responsible Practices: demonstrate an understanding of safe, ethical, and responsible personal and interpersonal practices in drama activities.

Unit Guiding Questions

What is Verbatim Theatre? Why is it important and compelling?
What are the challenges of creating Verbatim Theatre? What tools are available to the artist to create Verbatim Theatre?
What ethical considerations must be demonstrated when creating Verbatim Theatre?
How can a Verbatim Theatre piece be edited?
What happens to the 'truth' when it is shaped, revised and interpreted through an actor?
What can we learn about ourselves through telling and listening to personal stories?  What can we learn about our society?
How can we use Verbatim Theatre to educate and eventually change social views and practices?

Lesson Guiding Questions

Lesson 1-Telling Other People's Stories
How can we share and re-tell our stories in a way that feels safe and respected? 
Whose stories in our society get told?  Whose stories do not get told? 
How can theatre tell other people's stories without exploiting or appropriating them?    
Lesson 2-Defining the Genre
What does the word Verbatim mean as applied to theatre?  What are the basic principles that define the genre? 
Why might this be a compelling style of theatre for an artist and audience?
Lesson 3-The Overheard Conversation
What's it like to 'listen in' on other people's conversations and how can we do that respectfully? 
What can you gain as a theatre artist by observing  interactions in the 'real world'?  
How can the artist mold and shape reality through editing while still honouring the truth? 
Lesson 4-The Composite Character Monologue
How do you create questions and conduct interviews in Verbatim Theatre?  How do you record your data? 
What written cues can you give the actor about the way your character speaks?
What does it feel like to hear your answers spoken in the composite character monologue?    
Lesson 5-Polishing and Performing the Verbatim Text
How can the written verbatim text be interpreted by the actor? 
What is lost in the translation from the page to the stage? What is gained? 
How is your understanding of reality television different from when we started the unit?
What have you learned about the topic of change? How have you deepened our understanding of change?


Assessment and Evaluation: How will students demonstrate their learning?

Assessment of learning
1. Students will be evaluated on their rehearsals using the Creation Process Checklist.
2. Students will be evaluated on their polished (written) Verbatim text.
3. Students will be evaluated on the performance of the monologue using the Verbatim Theatre Monologue Performance Rubric that was co-constructed by the class.
4. Students will be evaluated on their Verbatim Theatre Reflection.   
Assessment for Learning

Check Point #1/Lesson 1

Feedback on written version of stories

Check Point #2/Lesson 2

Group Self-Evaluation using the Creation Process Checklist

Check Point #3/Lesson 3

Teacher Feedback on Creation Process

Check Point #4/Lesson 4

Written teacher feedback on Composite Character Monologue
Oral feedback from teacher and class on Composite Character Monologue

Check Point #5/Lesson 5

Peer Feedback on Performance using Co-constructed Rubric 


Unit Lessons: How will assessment and instruction be organized for learning?

Approx. Duration 1 class="75" minutes
Lesson 1

Telling Other People's Stories

2 classes
Lesson 2

Defining and Creating within the Genre

3 classes
Lesson 3

The Overheard Conversation

1-2 classes
Lesson 4

The Composite Character Monologue

1-2 classes
Lesson 5

Polishing and Performing the Verbatim Text

3 classes