Surrealism and Subversion

In the process of developing the script for 33 minutes, the group were strongly influenced by French surrealist writers such as Breton and Eluard, and dadaists such as Tristen Tzara. These writers, who were strongly influenced by fruedianist theory and the world of dreams, created performances and literature which were bizzarre and “extraordinarily difficult to read” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia) due to the way that they were “interested in the  associations and implications of words, rather than their literal meanings” (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia) this definition of what surrealist writers were interested in, explains exactly what 33 Minutes was looking at portraying, the meaning and connotations of individual words and phrases and not the literal meaning. By taking fragmented text and subverting its meaning by exploring how it is said or even sung, will hopefully have this effect. Another influence on the use of language within the piece is Beckett. By borrowing fragments of the script and playing with the way language is presented and broken down, the piece could be compared to Beckett’s work, as “Beckett may have recognised the possibilities of a delirious use of language, which by playing with conventions of sense and meaning, could subvert and challenge established literary techniques” (Keatinge, (2008), p.88) The subversion of language is an important factor within our process, looking at how to portray an emotional sentence, for example, with no emotion in the voice, or an opposite emotion to what an audience would be expecting is a crucial part of the piece.

Another style of writing which has influenced our scripting process is ‘verbatim’, “Albert Einstein once observed that ‘The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.’…Verbatim does the opposite.” (Hammond, (2008), p.1)  the group took the phone conversation that Amanda Berry had with the police when she escaped confinement and created a transcript which would be used in the final script as an ending to the piece. The word for word presentation of the phone call caused some issues however. As we had already decided to create a subverted version of this verbatim script, we needed to decide how to subvert it. We eventually decided to give the conversation a different situation, we decided on presenting it as a game show, in which the meaning of each line was completely changed by tone of voice and the semiotics of language, that are learnt through the medium of intonation and sound, when one experiences such things as game shows.

Phone Call Gameshow Transcript


Works Cited

Hammond, W (2008) Verbatim, Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre, London: Oberon Books

“Verbatim.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 2013.


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