LHS Verbatim Theatre: A Documentary By Students, For The Community

LHS+Verbatim+Theatre%3A+A+Documentary+By+Students%2C+For+The+Community%22+next+to+a+microphone

Livermore High School students will start creating their documentary-style Verbatim Theatre project this month, where they will pick one or two important topics relevant to the LHS community and interview a mix of students, parents, teachers, and administration on their views of the topics. The students will be imitating their interviewees and form a collage of verbatim monologues, which is where they repeat the exact words spoken in the interview, in order to create a virtual production that displays LHS’s diverse culture and opinions. 

As stated in the audition form, the Verbatim Theatre project will most likely be released virtually in early December or performed live on stage Dec. 4, 5, 10, 11, and 12, although the venue and the exact dates are still to be determined due to the uncertainty of public health conditions.

The cast is a small ensemble with no lead roles and is made up of LHS students Josiah Alpher, Whitley Alpher, JD Cerruti, Klarissa Cuenca, Nalini D’Souza, Lillian Engelsgjer, Caydence Johnson, Mikayla Marinko, Vy Nguyen, and Lia Nichols.     

Company Call was held virtually on Oct. 1 so the actors and tech could meet each other and enroll in the Advanced Theatre Workshop and Stagecraft classes to get Visual And Performing Arts (VAPA) course credits.  

Carol Hovey, Livermore High’s Drama teacher, will be overseeing the project, but the end piece will be created by the cast themselves. Hovey said the cast will hold their interviews on their own and will be in charge of turning those interviews into a script formed of short speeches.

“Actors will create monologues from interviews that are verbatim. They are word for word what the person who is interviewed spoke or says, and these responses are all blended into what is kind of like a documentary” Hovey said.

According to Hovey, in order to get them ready to conduct their interviews, the cast will receive training on how to choose the best interviewees to get their information from and how to ask the right questions for their chosen topic. 

“We will go through an interview process where they will learn how to interview with the right focus questions and they will learn how to take what has been recorded and then keep the integrity of the interview in their spoken monologue,” Hovey said. 

This chance to help uncover topics that may have been pushed aside or not given enough attention is one Hovey said she does not want the cast to pass up. She said that this project will likely reflect Livermore as a whole and she said that she hopes this project will help bring attention to ideas, organizations, and communities that are currently lacking in representation.

 “We’re a bit of a microcosm in the macrocosm,” Hovey said. “How they [the cast] take and shape that will hopefully address things that are not at the ideal, places where we’d want to strengthen our LHS Community, and where we aren’t serving everybody’s needs the best way that we can”.

The LHS Drama Club President, Leah Ananuevo (12), did not audition but said she is excited to see the end product. She has similar hopes to Hovey, as she said she’s hoping the project will shed some light on opinions that would normally be discussed on campus, but can’t this year due to distance learning.

“I feel like it’ll be cool to have a film that showcases our community; it’s hard to get a sense of other people’s thoughts right now in class. It’ll probably be pretty eye-opening to see everyone’s views,” Ananuevo said. 

President of the LHS Poetry Club, Nalini D’Souza (11), is a member of the cast and said she would like to look into how members of the LHS community view the presidential election, as well as try to increase LGBTQI+ representation at LHS. She also said she is a bit worried about how viewers might react to the project and whether or not the cast will be able to keep a good level of consistency between viewpoints. 

“I’m just hoping that I choose the right people and I don’t start any political arguments or something, and I feel like everyone’s vision might be a little different, and it might be a little choppy when we work together on this,“ D’Souza said.

Amira Sain, (10), played Megan Jones in last year’s production of Puffs and did not audition, but said she is planning on joining the stagecraft/tech crew. Sain also said she has similar concerns to D’Souza regarding the project’s potential for controversy.

“I’m willing to bet it’s going to be a rocky start. I don’t know where the plot is going to go; there’s just a lot of different perspectives,” Sain said.

Hovey said she has had similar thoughts to D’Souza and Sain on this issue of possible controversy and said that she believes this is going to be a very difficult project due to the necessity of social distancing. She also said that she knows the cast and crew are going to have their work cut out for them to create a video that can combine all of the LHS community’s views in a coherent and entertaining format.

 “Because this will most likely be a virtual production, we will have to really come together to figure out how we can create a full presentation with everybody in their different space and still give a sense of wholeness with consistent quality,” Hovey said.

Students interested in working on the production as a part of the Stagecraft class, which will hold meetings every Thursday at 3:15, can contact Hovey at [email protected]