First-hand accounts are a vital way of capturing history for posterity in the form of special projects: not only as they bring alive what may – purely written – cover dry subjects, but because all listeners can relate on some level to the accounts being told.
Other merits include giving a real account of a person (accent/dialect, reflection of cultural background), the anecdotal (that often isn’t included in an edited transcript), and particularly context – the best oral histories (when revisited in future generations) will give a pungent sense of a time and place.
When a number of testimonies are accumulated about a place, culture, time-period or conditions, the differences and ‘gaps’ between the accounts can also convey telling information about what happened and its impact on everyday people. This provides particularly fertile ground for rendering through artistic forms: using theatre groups to record, shape and perform histories (as live performances, or through broadcast radio recordings) can be a rich source to reach a range of audiences and community-influencers to bring themes to the fore.
The best oral histories require enthusiasm, tact and enough subject-insight to ask the right questions:
Mark’s proven record in achieving this is apparent in the following Project recordings