Sam and Zoe, founders and creative directors of Écoute Theatre Company, have decided to interview each other for this Fringe Review blog post. You can catch their show Take Care (Online) as part of the digital Living Record Festival for a whole month. Lucky you! You can find links to the Living Record Festival, as well as links to Ecoute’s website and social media throughout this interview. Enjoy!
INTRODUCING ÉCOUTE THEATRE AND THEIR SHOW TAKE CARE (ONLINE)
Sam: Right Zoe, out of the two of us, I’d say you are the most professional. So for the sake of good first impressions can you introduce us and give a rundown of our show Take Care (Online)? What’s it all about Zoe?
Zoe: Yep. AbsoLUTELY I can. Hello, my name is Zoe, this is Sam and we are at the helm of award winning verbatim company Écoute Theatre. We create inventive and challenging pieces of theatre that shine a light on pockets of society that usually go unheard.
“Verbatim” literally means “in exactly the same words as were used originally”. So all the text in our plays comes from interviews we have conducted around the UK. We don’t have a “writer” in the typical sense, as none of the script is written – it’s been transcribed from hours of interviews and structured into a form that makes it work dramatically. Basically, we’re as close to documentary theatre as it gets.
Take Care (Online) is a fantastic show (if we do say so ourselves) looking into the lives of carers of the elderly, crafted from interviews taken with key workers over six years. It follows multiple stories but focuses on ‘Pam’, a woman fighting for better end-of-life care for her mother. We follow her journey as she goes from working on complaints at British Airways to becoming a full out campaigner and political spokesperson.
Sam: Amazing. I think that reads pretty well. Sounds almost as good as it does on our website.
Sam: Almost pretty much exactly like the ‘about us’ on our website.
Zoe: Well if people would like to compare the two, how will they find the website Sam?
Zoe: Okay, Sam, I have a question for you.
Sam: Go on…
Zoe: Take Care (Online) started out as a live theatre show – Take Care -, and has now diversified into a spectacular online show as part of Living Record.
Sam: This is a statement, not a question, Zo.
Zoe: My question is, how do you think the show translates as a filmed piece and what have been the biggest joys and obstacles with creating a show during lockdown life?
Sam: This is now two questions.
Zoe: Will you answer the questions please?
Okay so in reference to part one of the question: I think Take Care works brilliantly as a filmed piece. We talk directly to the camera, straight down the lens, pretty much for the entirety of the show. This brings an intimacy and connection between the audience and the actor because it feels like the actor is talking to you. In fact, the biggest challenge of creating a show during lockdown, which was that everything was filmed remotely, became a real strong suit for Take Care. It forced everything to be scaled back. We had no stage to move about on, no rooms full of audience to focus on. We would film completely on our own, with Zoe calling in as director, our set was what we had in our homes. But all of this meant we really focused in on creating a relationship between the actor and the camera which sounds a bit suspect when you write it, but what I mean is, making it really appear as if there is someone at the other end of the line. Like the actors are connected to each other, and the audience. I think we managed it pretty damn successfully. I don’t know if you want to add anything Zoe?
Sam: This is a question I feel important to cover. You said earlier about Take Care being six years in the making…
Zoe: I said “Interviews conducted over six years”.
Sam: Words-shmurds. Why has it been such a long process and why is the show relevant and important for now?
Zoe: Well, we believe that carers are an undervalued section of society and this is something that has only got worse in our recent history. Creating a piece that is developed and steeped in a longer timeline means we all gain a better understanding of the context of what it means to be a carer in Britain today. We link our interviews with what is going on in the UK politically.
Sam: Making the political personal.
Zoe: Yep thanks Sam. This means that audiences can see how changes in politics are really and continually affecting our carers.
Also building relationships with the people we are talking to is really important to us. We are interested in how their lives are changing and if situations are improving or regressing. Keeping in contact allows us to do this and means audiences get a more detailed picture of an individual’s circumstance and a better understanding of the bigger socio-political picture.
Sam: And doing the show now, during covid, when the spotlight is on carers, makes the show super relevant and important for now.
Sam: I’ve got one last question and it’s: how has it been working with me over these last six years?Zoe: Important.
Sam: Strange answer.
Zoe: You can watch Take Care (Online) via Living Records Festival at: (link here)