The Verbatim Project

The Verbatim Project Canberra 2016Canberra Youth Theatre. Gorman House Arts Centre. 23 Jul 2016


We live in a mediated world where a good portion of the messages we are bombarded with everyday are carefully crafted by the media machine. So much so that it’s almost a novelty when one hears honest, spontaneous and unrehearsed discussion on matters from so-called “ordinary people” in productions like The Verbatim Project.


The Verbatim Project is more like a presentation of research findings from a social experiment rather than a traditional play. It is the result of three months worth of 10 teenagers and six elder-Australians exploring and recording their thoughts on everything that’s really important throughout a human life. This material has then been incorporated in various ways, verbatim, into this impressive work by the Canberra Youth Theatre.


Through the blending of audio and video vox pops and live re-telling, the 16 participants take us on an intimate journey through the lofty themes of love, death, anxiety, gender and family. However, the production also facilitates the performers walking in each others’ shoes by taking on their cast mates’ stories and demeanours – which is especially entertaining and revealing when the young and the elderly swap roles (young people sure do say “like” a lot!).


However, The Verbatim Project is not simply a talkfest. Each theme is portrayed through the meaningful and effective use of different theatrical techniques, such as interpretive dance, monologues and vignettes. This variation, combined with swift pacing and a creative use of lighting, ensures a highly engaging experience for the duration of the show.


What is so compelling about The Verbatim Project is that it makes one stop and reflect on what it was like to be young and have all the great mysteries still in front of you. It reminds one of all those overwhelming questions about what it’s like to fall in love, what your life will be like as an adult and how it feels to lose a family member; as well as the absolute importance of having the wisdom and experience of older generations to help light the way.


It’s also refreshing to see such a balanced representation of young and older Australians – these age groups are so often subjected to stereotypes, and The Verbatim Project injected a great deal of depth and insight into what it’s really like to be a member of these particular demographics.


This production fosters understanding of complex human matters in an articulate and thoughtful manner. It’s an opportunity to ditch the sensational views surrounding us for a short while and gain some reasoned perspective from both up and coming local talent, and the people guiding them through their journeys.


Deborah Hawke


When: 21 to 24 Jul

Where: Gorman House Arts Centre

Bookings: Closed