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Verbatim Theater – A Review

When she stood, she was a 17-year-old secondary school student. Her voice was reflective and calm. When she sat, she was the voice of a transgendered person who was recalling confusion of who they are and a fear of their father. She would stand again and talk about what they taught her. The audience was silent; taking in what was said. It was moving, powerful and profound.

There were other stories of laughter, pain, sadness, fear, confusion, acceptance, uncomfortableness. They were all stories from the LGBT+ community. It was all mixed with music and a bit of dancing. The performers had never acted before, never done in-depth interviews, they never even worked together, but in only five days the worked together to interview members of the LGBIT+ community and put on a show on the sixth day.

“I think the performance was one of the best we have done! It was funny, poignant, inventive, informative and our shortest performance to date,” said Steve Reynolds, the director of the project.  “It also had a huge positive impact on the students learning and self-discovery!”

The Verbatim Theatre, as it is known, is performed by students at Li Po Chun United World College in Ma On Shan. This is the seventh year of the project. In previous years they collaborated and performed with physically & mentally challenged youth in Beijing, orphans in Cambodia and refugees, ex-prison offenders and the homeless here in Hong Kong.

This year they chose stores from the Hong Kong LGBIT+ community under the title of ‘Clocked & Closeted.’ The students worked with Pink Alliance, Community Business, Ambition and HKU to find partners for the students to work with.

The subjects were funny as the students inhabited their partners. One of them was the story of Louis a closeted married Hong Konger with two children. He told his wife about being gay back in 1997 and still live together, but he sleeps in the living room while she sleeps in the bedroom. They stayed together for the sake of the children but the way it is told it is a mixture of shame sadness and uneasiness. With such a complex story, the performers help to simplify it and make it easy for the audience to connect with the character.

Everyone has a story to tell, and it is these stories that help bring a level of acceptance within our community and Hong Kong. The work done by these students have helped bring more understanding in the everyday lives of the LGBT+ community.

The final show will be on Friday, March 16th at 7:30 @ Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong, 10 Lok Wo Sha Lane, Sai Sha Rd. Shatin.

Published in Sights and Travels

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