The Verbatim Formula

The Verbatim Formula

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The Verbatim Formula is an applied performance research project which is currently working with looked after children and young people. It records the words of participants and shares them through performance. The process is being developed by Dr Sylvan BakerDr Maggie Inchley and Dr Sadhvi Dar at Queen Mary University of London’s Drama Department and produced by People’s Palace Projects, in partnership with the Greater London Authority Peer Outreach Team.


The Verbatim Formula projects are currently:
Portable Testimony Service: What Does Love Look Like? (with young people and adults)
No Dream is Too Big: University Residential Workshops (with 14-18 year olds)


Why drama?

Creative environments offer a way of valuing individual contributions in an environment where energy can be harnessed by skilled practitioners and there is no wrong answer. Drama participation has been shown to build confidence, communication skills, discipline & concentration as well as increasing young people’s motivation and sense of personal capacity for achievement. Applied arts work can change the way young people see themselves, and empower them to explore & reflect on their choices, building their belief in their own ability to follow new pathways.

Amongst approaches more traditionally used in applied practice with young people, we are using processes drawn from verbatim theatre. These allow us to invite participants to be collaborators on the project and literally place the voices of the participants at the centre of the research.

We believe that there is a strong case for using applied practice not only in supporting looked after young people in articulating their experiences and in shaping a sense of their own identities, but in order to open meaningful dialogue and listening with adults responsible for their care.

What are our aims?
One of our aims is to take the young people to perform the research to MPs in Parliament, at an All Party Parliamentary Committee. We will also be keeping the Children’s Commissioner’s office updated on the project, by invitation, in line with the Commissioner’s remit of listening to children.  The ultimate aims of the project are:

  • * To create spaces where adults working at all levels in the UK social care system engage with children, listen to children’s voices and talk to children about their concerns
  • * Looked after children have happier lives, with better educational and social outcomes
  • * We develop an understanding of the potential of verbatim practice as a research, evaluation and dissemination tool in a children’s social care context.
  • * We develop a performative inquiry practice that takes aesthetics as seriously as it does rigour.