Headphone Verbatim Training for Guild of Psychotherapists



The organisers of The Guild of Psychotherapists summer conference 2019 were delighted to work with Kristine Landon-Smith to prepare and perform original piece of verbatim theatre for the opening evening of the event.

Conference organiser and trainee psychoanalyst Anshu Srivastava writes:

When I and my colleagues Mariana Dodig and Tom Tomaszewski chose The Turner Contemporary in Margate to host the conference, we didn’t just want the event to helicopter into the town and then leave again without touching the sides. We wanted to make contact with the place and its people and bring those experiences and voices into the conference in a way that was neither superficial nor exploitative, and in some way that spoke to a psychoanalytic register of listening and thinking. Given that we were holding the conference in an art gallery, the idea also took hold to try and do something that was original and artistic.

I came across verbatim through the work of renowned theatre director Kristine Landon-Smith and she responded with extraordinary skill and generosity to help us, as complete novices, create and then act the piece. An important part of Kristine’s expertise led us to mix voices from the streets of Margate with others from our own organisation based in London. This allowed for a dramatic relationship between stories and voices that would otherwise not usually find themselves in dialogue and this certainly elevated both the performance and engagement with the audience.

Kristine is a wonderful teacher and theatre practitioner, we really loved working with her and the feedback from colleagues to the piece has been hugely positive.--

In January of this year a good friend and colleague Anshu Srivastava approached me saying he was one of a group of psychotherapists who were curating the annual conference for the guild this year. The conference was to be in Margate and was on the subject of alienation. Anshu had studied with me when he was exploring a range of possibilities for himself and through his training as a theatre director with me he came to know about the technique that I so often employ : headphone verbatim. He asked if I could teach and empower him and two of his colleagues to make their own show using this technique. I was happy to share this technique with him and give him all he needed to know to make his own work. Headphone verbatim is a tool that can be so effectively used to explore the civic and social issues of our time so I was excited to teach him and his two colleagues, Marianne and Tom how to interview, how to edit, what makes a good edit, ethics and performance techniques. 

They took to the technique believing that  becoming  conduits for the stories of others ( which is what the technique demands) was the perfect solution to present what they wanted to say at the conference. 

I gave only two training sessions of three hours each and some emails in between. The work was of quality and integrity as the video shows and the audience response affirmed that the presentation method had allowed a very intimate connection with the material which then stimulated the rich conversation for the remainder of the conference.