This week Sheffield audiences can enjoy a new play at the Theatre Deli. Same Same Different is a verbatim play from Naomi Sumner, inspired by her own experiences as a transracial adoptee. Naomi explained, “I was adopted as a baby from Hong Kong adopted into a white British family, so not only did I look very different from my family, then growing up and hanging out together, I realised that I’m quite different personality wise as well as what I like to do and what they like to do. So I wondered, if other adoptees felt the same.”
Following this Naomi started the project, meeting other adoptees and talking about their experiences. A majority of responses were collected through face to face interviews, however in cases where people wished to remain anonymous, an online survey was offered instead. Naomi explained that she’d ask about ways people felt they were similar to their adopted family as well as the ways they felt they were different, she asked whether people still had contact with their birth family and repeat the question. Reflecting on the interviews, Naomi said: “It was about exploring the whole idea of nature and nurture, what most influences your character and personality and what makes you you.”
These interviews went on to form the script of the play, as the show landed in a verbatim style. Verbatim is a documentary style of theatre based on the spoken words of real people. Traditionally actors will listen to recordings of people speaking in the rehearsal room, but Naomi chose just to give her actors the transcripts, choosing to focus more on their stories than creating a “perfect imitation of them.” Going on to say: “I’ve filled them in with bits and bobs on the people that I’ve met, so I’ve mentioned whether people are good storytellers, charismatic, nervous, and then any sort of significant physical things that I’ve passed on but I’m not really trying to do super accurate impressions of people, it’s more than just getting a sense of their stories and their energies if you know what I mean.”
Naomi is excited to see the reactions the show received at it’s tour venues, as it touches on a side of adoption that isn’t often shown: “It’s looking at adoption in a way that most people don’t really look at it. A lot of people look at the process, or reunion stories, but this is much more about what happens afterwards in day-to-day family life,” so it’s sure to be an interesting night.
Same Same Different is on 9 May at Theatre Deli as part of Festival of Debate.
Image Credit: Shaun Conway