May I ask…?

Strategies and methods for dealing fairly with biographical material obtained in interviews and edited for the stage

Speaking to members of your family about death, colleagues about experiences with racism or sexism, or strangers about social decline, and then transforming it all into a stage play: What should you bear in mind when interviewing people about their life story? How does a project manager deal in an appreciative, fair and transparent way with people who share painful and private experiences with him or her – people who may even embody these experiences themselves on stage? Which methods and approaches from journalism, social anthropology, but also psychology help to defuse the process and make it as fair as possible for all those involved? How is the transformation of what is said onto the stage accomplished and how are the participants (actors and lay people) involved?

What experience can we draw from interviewees and theatre authors who work in this way? And how can we avoid making attributions and (re)traumatising the people being interviewed? We are creating a handout that intends to clarify important principles and set out methods on the art of undertaking this area of theatrical work, ultimately enhancing awareness in this area. We want to gather and tap into experience and specialist knowledge to make the textual process more respectful, less stressful and higher in quality. We = Dennis Schwabenland, director and actor, and Katja Zellweger, cultural journalist and specialist in German studies.

People involved

Dennis Schwabenland, co-manager, director and actor, Bern

Katja Zellweger, co-manager, cultural journalist and specialist in German studies, Bern

Ramun Bernetta, head of production, Zurich

More information