17th April 2010
Rose Bruford College, Sidcup
THIS EVENT HAS TAKEN PLACE
As the final event in a remarkably crowded seven days of workshops and performances the Oral History Conference was held at Rose Bruford College on 17th April. Following a week of appearances by a clutch of leading performers and playwrights, a very professional group of researchers gathered to swap ideas.
They heard about projects large and small: telling the history of Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre, gathering the life stories of leading stage designers, restaging the first stirrings of performance theatre in Wales, collecting the memories of those involved in the early development of Asian theatre in Britain, mapping the growth of the sixties Fringe - the list goes on.
What came out of the day and its final 'where do we go from here?' session was a series of questions rather than a set of easy answers. How does a new researcher avoid unnecessary duplication? What is the best equipment to use, audio and video? What should interviewees know about how their recollections are going to be used? Who holds the copyright? Where should records be deposited to achieve maximum visibility? How are they to be preserved? Does anyone know of a good, cheap transcription service? When is someone going to produce decent voice-recognition software?
A suggested way to work towards answering some of these questions was to set up an on-line forum, to which those with the most experience of these problems could contribute from their own experience. It could carry Which-style reviews of equipment and user recommendations, specimen forms to guide both interviewers and interviewees on their responsibilities and ownership of copyright, and ongoing news of new projects being set up, new interviews being added to existing projects. It might also carry a directory of experienced interviewers willing to offer advice, even mentoring, to those wishing to start in the field. Unless anyone out there knows of such a forum already in existence, the STR will look at the possibility of hosting it on its website str.org.uk, where you can already find a complete, downloadable copy of Susan Croft's original research document.
The day ended with an example of living oral history, a lecture-performance by Cindy Oswin recalling her experiences as a leading performer in the early days of the Fringe. As well as appearing with many of the key groups of the period - often without her clothes - Cindy has since conducted a fascinating series of interviews with Fringe luminaries, which are available to be heard in the British Library Sound Archive.
Related STR Pages
Oral History Survey
2nd May 2010