Documentary theatre

Share

Plays

audio Additional Dialogue: An Evening With Dalton Trumbo

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In 1947, witty, outspoken, irascible Dalton Trumbo - the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of Roman Holiday and Spartacus - went to prison for defying the House Committee on Un-American Activities and became one of the framed Hollywood Ten. Through his wildly funny and thought-provoking correspondence, Trumbo’s son has created a touching portrait of an extraordinary man.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jeff Corey, Harry Groener, Christopher Trumbo and Paul Winfield.

Featuring: Jeff Corey, Harry Groener, Christopher Trumbo, Paul Winfield

audio Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In the mid-1950’s, the House Un-American Activities Committee began investigating the communist influence in the entertainment industry. This searing docudrama from actual transcripts of the hearings reveals how decent people were persuaded to “name names,” and the steep price paid by those who refused.

An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance featuring: René Auberjonois, Edward Asner, Bonnie Bedelia, Jack Coleman, Bud Cort, Richard Dreyfuss, Hector Elizondo, Robert Foxworth, Harry Hamlin, James Earl Jones, Richard Masur, Franklyn Seales, Joe Spano, James Whitmore, Michael York, and Harris Yulin.

Featuring: Ryan Vincent Anderson, Michael Canavan, Jake Green, Harry Hamlin, Shannon Holt, Alan Mandell, James Morrison, David Selby, Kate Steele, Nick Toren, John Vickery

audio Betrayed

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Based on the journalist-playwright’s original article in The New Yorker, Betrayed is the story of three young Iraqi translators who risk everything for America's promise of freedom while their country collapses around them. “The clarity of the writing, the urgency of the story being told … give the play a sharp dramatic impact and a plain-spoken beauty. Painful human experience is presented here as just that. Nothing else is necessary to awaken sympathy, despair and awareness of a grave moral failure on the part of the American government.” - New York Post

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Jeremy Beck, Kevin Daniels, Andrea Gabriel, John Getz, Sevan Greene, Sam Kanater and Waleed F. Zuaiter.

Recorded before a live audience at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles.

Featuring: Jeremy Beck, Kevin Daniels, Andrea Gabriel, John Getz, Sevan Greene, Sam Kanater, Waleed F. Zuaiter

The Blue Ball

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

The Blue Ball is a strange and melodic play, an attempt to comprehend the experience of space travel.

Paul Godfrey used a travel grant from the National Theatre to visit centres of space travel in America and Russia to research The Blue Ball. His conversations with astronauts inspired the play and are partly replicated within it, as the play weaves his interviews into the story of a fictional first man in space.

It is an imaginative investigation of a culture in which the wondrous is rendered mundane, what seems commonplace is rendered absurd, and no-one ever stops asking, ‘What is it like?’ Godfrey explores the myths surrounding astronauts, and the impossibility of describing space, in scenes alive with irony and sharp comedy, creating a play which is both delicate and vastly ambitious.

The Blue Ball premiered at the Cottesloe Theatre in 1995.

audio The Chicago Conspiracy Trial

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

Reality is stranger than fiction when seven 1960’s radicals refuse to behave in Judge Julius Hoffman’s courtroom. Based on actual trial transcripts and starring a cast of top Chicago actors, this play centers on events following the protests and riots during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Amandes, George Czarnecki, Christine Dunford, Richard Fire, Kevin Gudahl, Gary Houston, Tony Mockus, George Murdock, Mike Nussbaum, Peggy Roeder, David Schwimmer, Jeff Still, Ron West, Ed Wheeler and Andrew White.

Featuring: Tom Amandes, George Czarnecki, Christine Dunford, Richard Fire, Kevin Gudahl, Gary Houston, Tony Mockus, George Murdock, Mike Nussbaum, Peggy Roeder, David Schwimmer, Jeff Still, Ron West, Ed Wheeler, Andrew White

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Amandes, George Czarnecki, Christine Dunford, Richard Fire, Kevin Gudahl, Gary Houston, Tony Mockus, George Murdock, Mike Nussbaum, Peggy Roeder, David Schwimmer, Jeff Still, Ron West, Ed Wheeler and Andrew White.

Featuring: Tom Amandes, George Czarnecki, Christine Dunford, Richard Fire, Kevin Gudahl, Gary Houston, Tony Mockus, George Murdock, Mike Nussbaum, Peggy Roeder, David Schwimmer, Jeff Still, Ron West, Ed Wheeler, Andrew White

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring Tom Amandes, George Czarnecki, Christine Dunford, Richard Fire, Kevin Gudahl, Gary Houston, Tony Mockus, George Murdock, Mike Nussbaum, Peggy Roeder, David Schwimmer, Jeff Still, Ron West, Ed Wheeler and Andrew White.

Featuring: Tom Amandes, George Czarnecki, Christine Dunford, Richard Fire, Kevin Gudahl, Gary Houston, Tony Mockus, George Murdock, Mike Nussbaum, Peggy Roeder, David Schwimmer, Jeff Still, Ron West, Ed Wheeler, Andrew White

audio Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

LA Theatre Works
Type: Audio

In three short months, Oscar Wilde, the most celebrated playwright and wit of Victorian England, was toppled from the apex of British society into humiliation and ruin. Drawing from trial documents, newspaper accounts, and writings of the key players, Moisés Kaufman ignites an incendiary mix of sex and censorship, with a cast of characters ranging from George Bernard Shaw to Queen Victoria herself.

An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance featuring JB Blanc, Dakin Matthews, Ian Ogilvy, Peter Paige, Julian Sands, Simon Templeman, John Vickery, Douglas Weston and Matthew Wolf.

Featuring: JB Blanc, Dakin Matthews, Ian Ogilvy, Peter Paige, Julian Sands, Simon Templeman, John Vickery, Douglas Weston, Matthew Wolf

Katrina

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Katrina uses survivor testimonies and the rich cultural tradition of New Orleans to tell the story of the eponymous hurricane and its immediate aftermath, charting the infamous devastation that will live long in the American psyche.

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina narrowly missed New Orleans. The resulting storms breached rotting levees and emptied Lake Pontchartrain into the city. Marooned by floodwater that swamped over 80% of their homes, the inhabitants had to wait a week without food or clean water before their own government came to their aid.

Shedding light on some of the more extraordinary and under-reported aspects of the tragedy, the play is an odyssey through a drowned space, a series of encounters with individuals displaced and abandoned within their own city. The plot follows from the death of Virgil, a decadent old New Orleanian, who has been killed by Hurricane Katrina. Trapped by the rising floodwater his partner Beatrice determines to take his body to safety at the City Hall. During her journey she encounters a number of other survivors and hears their stories.

Katrina was first performed in 2009 at The Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf.

Once in a While the Odd Thing Happens

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

Once in a While the Odd Thing Happens is drawn from the life of Benjamin Britten and informed by many personal interviews with the composer's friends and especially his sister Beth. The play has an austere beauty which serves to reveal the humanity of the composer and affords a glance at the ambition of the man. It explores the conflict between his association with W. H. Auden and his partnership with Peter Pears cuminating in the triumphant première of Peter Grimes in 1945. This is neither 'faction' nor drama documentary but a play which resonates beyond its specific characters.

Once in a While the Odd Thing Happens premièred at the Cottesloe in September 1990, in a production directed by Paul Godfrey.

Terms using ‘documentary’ and ‘drama’ in combination (most of which relate more to the world of television than to the stage) can be confusing. ‘Documentary drama’, describing plays with a close relationship to their factual base, is a twentieth-century extension of historical drama or the pièce à thèse where the factual basis gives the action its credibility. In ‘documentary theatre’, documents themselves are projected into text and performance. Documentary theatre has a declared purpose and an evident factual base. It follows the model pioneered in the 1920s by Erwin Piscator. Non-naturalistic epic theatre techniques are used in documentary theatre to present oppositional critiques of dominant ideologies. Its four major functions are to reassess national/ local histories; to celebrate communities/ marginalized groups and their histories; to investigate important events and issues past and present; and to be openly didactic in its use of information. In documentary theatre, photographs and/ or film project actualities; placards and/ or slides project quotations from source documents; actors and/ or loudspeakers address the audience directly with facts and information; voices of participants in historical events are used on tape/ film. In addition, authentic music and song can add a critique of events, and acting techniques like Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt (Alienation Effect) can enable representation (rather than impersonation) of historical figures to take place. Information becomes the protagonist through a rhetoric of fact (printed documents, statistics, graphs, maps, actuality tape, film and photograph, song), as it did in the Federal Theater’s Living Newspaper. Such theatricalization is the opposite of naturalistic drama, which seeks to mask performance techniques in favour of surface realisms, especially of character. Documentary theatre was sometimes called Theatre of Fact in the 1960s, following Piscator’s Berlin productions of Rolf Hochhuth’s The Representative (1963), Heinar Kipphardt’s The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1964) and Peter Weiss’s The Investigation (1965). Theatre Workshop’s Oh, What a Lovely War! (1963) and Peter Brook’s US (1966) were landmark productions in Britain, where the methodology derived from these plays became briefly a staple in repertory theatre, having been pioneered by Peter Cheeseman at the Victoria Theatre, Stoke-on-Trent. The ‘verbatim play’ was a 1980s variant of the local documentary. Britain’s 7:84 and America’s San Francisco Mime Troupe were notable alternative theatre exponents of documentary theatre, and the British Theatre in Education movement used it extensively as does radical theatre in the Third World.

from Derek Paget, The Continuum Companion to Twentieth-Century Theatre, ed. Colin Chambers (London, 2002).