Training the Future of Verbatim Performance
The popularity of the VPL continues to grow, with more than a dozen student interns this past year and a core acting ensemble of 10, many of whom are alumni or adjunct faculty of the Educational Theatre program. This summer, 13 students participated in an intensive course in which they learned how to create, stage, and facilitate verbatim performances themselves.
The VPL is also engaging in cross-disciplinary research with Elisabeth King, associate professor of international education and politics in Steinhardt’s Department of Applied Statistics, Social Science, and Humanities to quantify what reversed identities do to audiences’ perceptions, first looking at interactions from the 2020 Democratic primary between Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. Soon they will explore what happens when both gender and race are flipped in a performance of the 2020 Vice Presidential Debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris – the infamous “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking” exchange. This project has received support from the American Political Science Association (APSA) through the Herring Fund for Political Art.
“Verbatim performance has a way of encouraging people to engage in conversations in a productive way,” says Salvatore. “The work is not about asking folks to change their minds; it’s about helping them to recognize and understand why they believe what they believe. Along the way if that creates some cognitive dissonance around the assumptions that people make, then I think that’s really useful.”