The Exeter Blitz Project: staging memories of war

Enright, H (2018) The Exeter Blitz Project: staging memories of war. In: IOHA 2018 Memory & Narration, The XX International Oral History Association Conference, 18 - 21 June 2018, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Official URL: https://www.jyu.fi/en/congress/ioha2018/program-1

Abstract

Between 1940 and 1942 the city of Exeter was blitzed by the German Luftwaffe 19 times. The worst raid took place in the early hours of May 4th, 1942, an event which was to dramatically alter the landscape of the city forever. To commemorate the 70th anniversary of that night in May 2012, theatre practitioners Jessica Beck and Helena Enright created The Exeter Blitz Project using first hand testimonies from a number of people who had witnessed the raids. Turning oral history interview transcripts into theatre is filled with tensions both ethical and practical. How do you find the appropriate theatrical framework to hold the material? Once decided what material do you include? What material do you leave out? Whose experience do you privilege and whose is more suited to the 'cutting room floor'? Once you have decided on the material, how then do you get the actors to embody the narratives and memories in a way that stays true to and respects the voice and experience of the original storyteller? In this paper we discuss our approaches to collecting the material and some of the challenges we faced, both practical and ethical as we attempted to stage these memories of war. In doing so we consider how bringing these stories to life led to re-ignited friendships, forged connections across generations and encouraged residents to see their city in a new light. Our aim is to encourage other oral historians and theatre makers to embrace the complexities of this work and discover the rich journey that it can take you and participants on.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2018 12:22
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2018 09:01
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