Transcript to Script: turning oral history into plays for stage and radio (online course)

Course Structure

This online training course is delivered over Zoom video call. Each course is run over two morning sessions, 9.30am – 1.15pm, with half hour breaks mid-morning. In between the two sessions participants complete a practical script-writing exercise.

Please note:

  • There will be no refunds for cancelled places.
  • Due to high demand and in order to ensure that each course has attendees with a variety of interests and backgrounds, a maximum of two people from any one institution may attend each course.
  • There are two methods of payment. You can pay online via PayPal, debit or credit card or you can make an offline payment where an invoice will be sent to your organisation. Please select the appropriate option in the booking form.

Hourly Schedule

Day 1

9.30 - 9.45
Welcome and Introductions
9.45 - 11.00
Introduction to oral history-based theatre:
Brief history of genre in UK including the Radio Ballads, Victoria Theatre in Stoke, The Living Archive, Age Exchange, the National Theatre and BBC productions. - Oral history as research material only. - Fictional characters but words from the tape. - Non-fictional characters: strict and loose forms of documentary/ ‘verbatim’ theatre. - Improvising around memory without transcript
11.00 - 11.30
11.30 - 12.45
Telling the story
Planning the interviews and other research for the project. - Deciding upon what the story actually is. - Shaping the script. - Ground rules for creation of documentary dialogue. - Use of direct and indirect speech. - Use of music, song and non-verbal story-telling. - Incorporation of non-oral documentary material. - The contract with the audience. - Combining sources: oral history and documents. - Writing for radio, writing for stage
12.45 - 13.15
Creating the script
An example of oral history as central research for drama. - An example of documentary theatre. - Introducing material to be turned into scenes..
Between days 1 and 2 participants write documentary scenes using transcript extracts provided, and then send them to the course administrator.

Day 2

9.30 - 10.30
Some examples of verbatim theatre
10.30 - 11.00
Reading and comparing scripts prepared by the group
11.00 - 11.30
11.30 - 12.30
Reading and comparing scripts prepared by the group, continued
12.30 - 13.15
Legal and ethical issues, and archiving the script
Summarising, transcription, copyright, archiving


06 - 09 Dec 2021


9:30 am - 1:15 pm


Zoom call Time zone: London, United Kingdom GB


Camille Johnston

Oral History Training Administrator


  • Rib Davis
    Rib Davis

    The tutor, Rib Davis, is an OHS/NLS-BL accredited trainer and over the past thirty years has been interviewer/writer/director for many oral history-based plays and radio drama productions. This course is organised jointly by National Life Stories at the British Library and the Oral History Society.

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