Theatre off the couch

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Basement

The first docudrama that I ever saw is called “The Exonerated,” and the experience of it challenged and grew me as a person. It also introduced me to a whole new level of the power of live theatre. Tonight, theatre challenged and grew me yet again with “Verbatim,” a collaboration between the Last Tape Theatre Company and the organization JustSpeak.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times in my blogs that part of my obsession with theatre is the way that it creates an atmosphere for and the experience of empathy. “Verbatim” and the “Talk Back” afterwards did that in perhaps one of the most powerful ways that I have experienced. It is theatre as an education in how others think, live, and feel. “Verbatim” was like taking the psychology of criminals and victims off the therapists couch and putting it into a social environment to aid in the growth of the members of the society who witnessed it. This may sound like high praise, but before tonight I wasn’t sure what I felt about “prison reform” and now I feel like I have a solid point of view. Sure I was impressed by the honest and skilled acting; drawn in by the great writing, and moved by the brave and candid “Talk Back” testimony of Dr. Paul Wood. But mostly I was excited! Excited and inspired by theatre that has managed to tackle a social issue in a way that is not “preachy” or boring. I was inspired by theatre that is braver then entertainment, that is art working to bring change to a complacent first world society.

None of this easy! So often theatre that is created to touch on a social topic is hard to digest and driven purely by passion with little thought given to presentation and digestibility. So many companies who have something to say forget that often times the medicine needs a hot dog.