‘The Talk’ – a play to get adults talking about relationship and sex education

Created from interviews with almost 100 people, ‘The Talk’ is a headphone verbatim play about the history of sex education in England.  

‘The Talk’ is about how we learnt, or didn’t learn, about sex and relationships. The play features personal tales of first times and crossed lines; the education and awareness we wanted, needed, didn’t like, or didn’t get. It is also the political story of the subject’s formal position in the education system, featuring interview material from Ed Balls, Nicky Morgan and Jim Knight. 

From parents and teachers, inquisitive 11-year-olds and angry 15-year-olds, doctors and former education secretaries, playwright Neela Doležalová listened to people from their teens to their nineties. These very personal interviews form the content for a 55-minute play that encourages people to talk more about Relationship and Sex Education (RSE). 

‘The Talk’ gives voice, literally, to those not often heard in the current debates about sex and relationships education, notably young people and their parents.’
— Jane Lees, Chair of the Sex Ed Forum.

What is headphone verbatim? Headphone verbatim theatre is an intimate storytelling method. The actors perform the edited interviews whilst listening to the recorded material through headphones. In effect this means the audience watches the actors as they keep up with the pace/tone/intonation of the voice they hear. The audience only hears the actor’s voice, not the original speaker. 

‘Presentation beyond anything I could visualise, very powerful, emotional, sad, funny, thought-provoking and relevant. Should be seen by many more.’
— Audience feedback on 'The Talk' at Rich Mix

‘The Talk’ has performed at Rich Mix, VAULT Festival 2018 (Awarded Highly Commended), the ESRC Festival, Omnibus Theatre’s Perception Festival, and at colleges and universities across England thanks to support from the Arts Council England. Some extracts of ‘The Talk’ have been filmed for free educational use.

‘The Talk’ has been featured in the TES, and you can read more about why Neela created the play on the BERA blog and SH:24 blog.

Trailer for “The Talk”

‘The Talk’ was first performed on the 20th January 2018 with the following company: Director Kristine Landon-Smith, Design Sue Mayes, Cast Ken Birk, Divian Ladwa, Nyla Levy, Stephen Myott-Meadows, Anna Nguyen and Josephine Starte. The team has since been joined by Sarah Meadows as Associate Director on tour, and performed by Radhika Aggarwal, Calum Callaghan, Chloe Ewart, Bayo Gbadamosi, Eloise Joseph, Samia LaVirgne, Jennifer Tan, and Fadia Qaraman. 

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‘The Talk’ couldn’t be more timely. Not only does it raise vitally important issues... but it is an incredibly powerful piece of theatre in its own right – funny, sad, moving and thought-provoking in equal measure, I’d recommend it to anyone for whom children, young people and education matter.’
— Jenny Barksfield, Deputy CEO of the PSHE Association.