Research activities

Performing Oral History - Day Two Programme

12th April 2022 (IN-PERSON at the University of Greenwich Theatre in Bathway, Woolwich, London SE10 6QX) with presentations, keynote addresses and practical workshops.

Final programme timings will be shown here soon.

Keynote Speakers:

Creating Verbatim Productions

David Thacker will reflect on his verbatim theatre productions ‘The Rose Between Two Thorns’ and ‘The Enemies Within’, supported by actors who worked on the productions. This will develop into a practical demonstration of his methodology in creating verbatim productions.

David Thacker is Professor of Theatre in the School of the Arts at the University of Bolton. He has been Artistic Director of Dukes Playhouse Lancaster, The Young Vic and the Octagon Theatre Bolton. He was Director-in-Residence at the RSC, directing nine productions. He has directed over 150 theatre productions in the UK and internationally and over 30 films and TV productions for BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

Rights of Passage

Clare Summerskill is a writer, performer and oral historian who has developed verbatim theatre productions on a range of subjects: most significantly using the recorded memories and current experiences of older members of the LGBTQ population. She has also written about the experiences of patients on an NHS secure psychiatric ward. Clare Summerskill will speak about her play, ‘Rights of Passage’, based on interviews with LGBTQ asylum seekers in the UK, exploring ethical and practical concerns in the scripting of verbatim theatre.

Clare completed her PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London, on the experience of contributors in verbatim theatre processes. Her publications include ‘Creating Verbatim Theatre from Oral Histories’, (Routledge, 2020) and “Gateway To Heaven: Fifty Years of Lesbian and Gay Oral History” (Tollington Press, 2012). She has worked for several years with Pam Schweitzer on Reminiscence Theatre.

Making Theatre From Memories

Pam Schweitzer will give a practical demonstration of the processes involved in making a verbatim show from group and individual interviews. She will consider the impact of this work on the older audiences for whom they are performed and the actors who tour with the productions. She will also discuss the fascinating process by which older people become the performers of their own memories

Pam Schweitzer is a writer, producer and director of ReminiscenceTheatre. As Artistic Director of Age Exchange Theatre and Reminiscence Centre from 1983 - 2005, Pam created thirty professional touring productions and later many shows performed by older people themselves. Pam is Honorary Research Fellow and Hon Doc Arts from the University of Greenwich, where she teaches Reminiscence Theatre. Pam founded and directs the European Reminiscence Network. She is also a Regional Networker (London) for the Oral History Society.


Positive in Prison

Janet Weston and Kate Valentine present their audio drama based on interviews on the HIV Aids unit in Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. The 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis may be recent history, but the experiences of those who lived through it are rapidly disappearing from the public mind. Historian Janet Weston created an audio drama with partners Digital Drama, directed by Kate Valentine.

Dr Janet Weston is an Assistant Professor at the Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She has researched and published on histories of forensic psychiatry, HIV/AIDS, mental health law, and the ethics of public health. Kate Valentine is director of Digital Drama and has worked extensively as a director in theatre and at the BBC as a radio producer. She is currently undertaking a PhD by Creative Practice at the University of York.
Avant Gardening and the LGBT+ Staff Community, researchers and artists will discuss the tensions and experiences of using creative methods to explore and disseminate traditional interview testimony. It will explore the beginnings of a co-design process between traditional researchers, the LGBT+ community and artists, which started in 2022 as an extension of the LGBT+ Culture research project at the University of Greenwich initiated in 2021.Paul Green from Avant Gardening and Bijou Stories team, Panagiotis Pentaris, Associate Professor of Social Work and Thanatology and research lead of the LGBT+ Culture research project, Alan Dudley, research officer and David Hockham, Chair of the LGBT+ Staff community (Greenwich University) researcher and theatre manager.

Working with our mothers’ stories

Pamela Franklin will talk to their experience of working with the stories of her mother’s generation, in the Caribbean Social Forum, through performance and arts based practices.

Pamela Franklin set up and leads the Caribbean Social Forum, a 600 strong community of elder Caribbean people based in the borough of Greenwich.


Performing Oral History

Kate Saffin and Heather Wastie of Alarum Productions will run a practical workshop on Performing Oral History celebrating UK waterways. They will explore the theoretical perspectives that underpin their work and demonstrate practically their specific methodology.

Kate is a boater, writer, storyteller and actor, who has lived on a narrow boat since 1999 telling stories of the waterways. Heather is a poet, singer-songwriter and accordion player working with oral history.


This event is free to attend thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, but all participants whether online or in-person must register. For those attending online the Zoom link will be emailed in advance.