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Telling the Truth - How to Make Verbatim Theatre

Telling the Truth

How to Make Verbatim Theatre

By Robin Belfield
Imprint: Nick Hern Books
Paperback : 9781848424913, 176 pages, February 2018


"The beauty of verbatim theatre is its capacity to capture and document a subject with more clarity and precision than a play invented by a playwright. "


Verbatim theatre is fashioned from words actually spoken by real people in real situations, and reproduced by actors in performance. An increasingly influential form of theatre, it has a unique ability to present stories from unfamiliar sources and bring unheard voices to the stage. Verbatim theatre is perhaps the most objective way of dramatising real life; its authenticity helps audiences to understand the world we live in, whether through testimony, eye-witness accounts or autobiography.

Telling the Truth offers a step-by-step breakdown of the entire process of making your own verbatim-theatre production, covering everything you need to consider, including:

  • Choosing your subject
  • Preparing and conducting your interviews
  • Refining your research into a single narrative strand
  • Editing your material sensitively and ethically
  • Providing your actors with exercises, techniques and advice to allow them to perform as ‘real’ people
  • Designing and staging your work for fully realised, physical performance

In Telling the Truth, Robin Belfield draws on his own experiences of creating verbatim-theatre work, and interviews other major directors, writers and actors including Alecky Blythe, Patrick Sandford, Hilary Maclean and ACH Smith, providing tips and advice to help you make the most of every part of the verbatim-theatre process.

An essential how-to guide for theatre-makers, artists, students and teachers who want to create their own verbatim-theatre production, Telling the Truth is also a fascinating read for those interested in the processes and inspirations that created the productions they love.


"Robin Belfield’s excellent book is a good primer for those wanting to create their own verbatim theatre production. Its theory is clear and easy to navigate. .. verbatim theatre is certainly worth exploring in the classroom and this book should be by your side as you do. " —Ink Pellet

"A really informative read… full of resources, insights and clever ideas for writing, acting, staging and designing. " —Word Matters (Journal of the Society of Teachers of Speech and Drama)