A Piece of Verbatim Theatre with Music
Performance on January 20, 2019
Why create a piece of verbatim theater about freedom?
Facebook was founded in 2004. All of its users have friends from various life phases. Julia Schwartz, for example, has many Facebook contacts from her childhood and youth in the USA. Many posts unsettle her, as some of her contacts are slaphappy or even militant bearers of guns. Others write in a disrespectful manner about people who are different-minded - and consider that to be freedom of speech. They boast of wasteful actions – and consider that also to be part of their innate freedom. The word freedom is ubiquitous: freedom to, freedom from, to be free, to feel so free as to… We all utter this word without thinking. Verbatim theater is an ideal form to broach the question, “What does freedom mean to us today?”
How did the concept for Freedom Papers develop?
In the fall of 2017 Julia Schwartz launched a call for texts and ideas about freedom with the intention of building a theater piece with them. The texts could be personal, direct or even raw. As it turns out, funny, sad, biting, crass and contemplative texts arrived in her email box. They took the form of short stories, memories, song lyrics and aphorisms. She wove the material she collected into a theatrical work and composed music to the lyrics. Everyone who contributed was represented by at least one text. The essence of the contributions and of verbatim theater remained intact.
What does Julia want to say with Freedom Papers?
The diversity of the text material shows that there is not one single freedom that is more important than any other. There are big and small freedoms. There are freedoms that limit the freedoms of others. There are cultural differences. For example, what would pass as a freedom in the USA might not pass as one in Switzerland.
It was not the intention to offer established writers a platform, with the exception of Regi Claire and her short story “When our lives begin.” It was rather the aim to let people like you and me have our say. In order for the piece to be truly authentic, the texts were purposely not condensed or censored intellectually.
In performance we opened the colorful fan of freedom for the audience and demonstrated that the experience of freedom isn’t all light, but indeed has its shadowy sides. Freedom Papers makes no claim to be comprehensive, indeed it cannot be so.
The State Archive in Frauenfeld, Switzerland is a building that houses a rich variety of historical documents and for that reason was the perfect place to perform Freedom Papers.
See gallery for photos.