Photo by Simon Tang
The Boyfriend Trick
The Boyfriend Trick is a Practice as Research (PaR) project that forms part of Alison Porter's PhD thesis on 'Mediating Victimhood: verbatim methodologies as advocacy strategies for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking'. The practice is an in-depth investigation of how playwrights mediate verbatim material to create simultaneously entertainment and advocacy. The project takes the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking from Albania as a case study working with verbatim material gathered through three charities, the National Crime Agency, and a visit to Albania. The work challenges verbatim convention with structural, technological, and visual experimentation. Through her practice Alison explores the transition from traditional verbatim methodologies to post-verbatim strategies, arguing that more mediation does not necessarily mean less authenticity.
There are estimated to be 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, many of them working in nail bars, car washes, the sex trade and criminal enterprises. The Boyfriend Trick portfolio tells the true story of one survivor from Albania. The work is shaped by the need to engage different voices in the process of activist public engagement. Ultimately neither theatre nor activism are solo processes - the project reflects that collectivism and asks how the arts and charities can work together to improve public awareness, and advocate for victims
- How could verbatim theatre play a useful role in communicating the issues identified by scholars, charities and officials working on the problems of modern slavery and human trafficking and support their advocacy for victims?
- How effective are the mediums of text, body and artefacts in conveying meaning and emotional connection in the re-presentation of verbatim material?
- How might stylisation and abstraction take us away from mere representation towards a deeper dialogical involvement between the writer, the subject and the audience?
The portfolio of work available to view on this website consists of:
Text - Land of Eagles, five 4 minute audio monologues
Body - The Boyfriend Trick, a 4 minute dance film
Artefacts - a collection of objects from the story
Early Explorations - Car Wash movement sequences and soundscape.
The dramatic interpretation takes inspiration from the Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini, a code of laws produced by a fifteenth century Albanian prince and its enduring influence on Albanian society. The practice explores the dramaturgical processes and aesthetics of verbatim theatre and investigates the effectiveness of the mediums of text, body and artefacts in communicating meaning and emotion. Throughout the process the importance of public engagement and the role of different stakeholders such as charities, NGOs, academia and artists has framed the aesthetics and activism of the practice.