All we need is space: Old Vic New Voices

This stunning rehearsal studio at Jerwood Studios in London was the beginning of some my key current practice as research inquiries regarding ethics and engagement in auto/biographical performance processes.

Project Assistant and Researcher, Housed by David Watson, Old Vic, London

Housed was a production written by David Watson that was based on ‘the testimonies of over 200 Londoners’ and performed at the Old Vic, July 2015. I first became involved because I was drawn to the engagement strategies (workshops and interviews, late 2013) that aimed to hear from Londoners who were affected by the housing crisis – from housing officers to real estate agents. However, as the show developed, it veered further from ‘verbatim’ and more towards ‘magic realism’, which drove me towards problematising how the interviewees might be engaged in this new production.

As well as supporting the facilitation of workshops for the Old Vic Community Company for a six-month period, I developed engagement strategies which linked those who were interviewed and took part in workshops i.e.: the voices of the script, with the actors for its production at the Old Vic earlier this month. As a researcher, I wanted to invite those who had given precious material to the script into the current dynamic production process while also positively informing and impacting actor research. The two major engagement events that I designed and implemented included one-on-one meet-and-greets between actors and interviewees, as well as a panel discussion for the entire (100 member) creative team.

Photos of the Old Vic Community Company, Photo by Claire French

More on the production is here. Get in contact if you would like to chat more about how exactly I integrated these engagement practices.

Claire French is a performance maker and researcher, specialising in multilingual, applied and autobiographical performance.

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