Normal Non-Fluency and Verbatim Theatre: a Linguistic and Performative Analysis


  • Eleonora Fois UNIV. OF CAGLIARI
  • Daniela Francesca Virdis



 The main inspiration for developing a creative verbatim theatre performance is the recording of members of a community, highlighting the claim that the interviewees’ exact words are entirely preserved so that the audience knows it is an authentic word-for-word account. While the common non-fluency features that characterize everyday speech abound in the language of verbatim theatre, the conventions of a theatrical script are strictly connected to their embodiment in performance, so some dramatic transformations are inevitable. The role of playwrights and actors in a genre which seemingly binds and limits them will be investigated through a linguistic and performative analysis of normal non-fluency features in The Laramie Project (2000), a verbatim play by Moisés Kaufman, in which such features are expected to feature prominently, and in Fleabag (2013), a non-verbatim play by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in which their occurrence would presumably be more limited. The two plays provide a similar background to the investigation of normal non-fluency. The spartan set and the simplicity of costumes and props manage to create an informal and intimate theatrical experience in both The Laramie Project and Fleabag. The two plays are built around the revelation of people’s deepest desires and the confessions of their private thoughts; moreover, they both employ the technique of directly addressing the audience in the performance in order to develop an emotional connection with them. Our analysis of normal non-fluency will be grounded in plays belonging to different genres but with a common purpose and a common dialogical structure. By contrasting the scripts of the two texts and the transcriptions of their performances, the analysis aims to bring to light the complexity of the notion and interpretation of ‘verbatim’. It does so by examining the occurrences of normal non-fluency and exploring the performative function of omissions or additions.

Keywords: verbatin theatre; normal non-fluency; The Laramie Project; Fleabag; linguistic analysis; performative analysis