Sunday, 6 March 2016

21st Century Skills From Devising


Drama matters, now as much as ever, and devising is a particularly important and powerful part of the subject. In a recent post, my colleague Alan and I talked about why Drama = Life and here I want to expand on how devising supports this. If you're not sure what devising is, or want to her some of my take on it, then I have a blog post on it here: Devising: My Favourite Definitions.

This is also in response to the blog post 21st Century Skills In The Drama Classroom
written by Lindsay Price on the fantastic Theatrefolk blog.

The Four E's


Pic: Frantic Assembly- Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime
(words by me)

Without the relative safety of a script guiding the rehearsal process, students find themselves exploring the realms of uncertainty. Devising provides us an opportunity to develop ideas without a predefined understanding of the final performance. We can discover surprising, new ideas and themes as we go, enjoying the ever-shifting nature of the process.

There is no script for life. Unexpected events happen all the time and having a positive, open-minded approach to the unknown is important to develop.


Pic: Forced Entertainment- The Last Adventures
(words by me)

With the strict roles of playwright/director/actor/crew and their associated hierarchies becoming challenged more and more in the performing arts, we find ourselves in a field were many people can be many things. Dancers make the costumes and have an influence over the content of their work. Performers have written their own scripts and created the video trailers to promote their shows.   

The best devising promotes collaboration in a more egalitarian hierarchies. By using the right strategies and methodologies , everyone involved can have an influence on the process, production and performance of their work. 


Pic: Tanztheater Wuppertal - Vollmond
(words by me)

Performance has always been about self-expression but devising puts it at the heart of the creative process; importantly, for everyone not just the writer and director. Devising harnesses the makers personal stories, thoughts, skills and ideas and embeds them into the art. 


Pic: Cupola Bobber- The Field, The Mantel
(words by me)

Without a script acting as road-map, without a single vision from a director, and with a wealth of stories and ideas to rub together, experimentation is the engine through which sparks of inspiration are developed into final material. Innovators are supported by their other collaborators, who are in turn innovating themselves. Together they can dabble or dive into all manner of disciplines, styles and techniques during the course of any given process.

If Performance is the body of the theatrical art forms, then for me devising is its soul. It has been the method by which many great contemporary performance companies have made their work. Personally, it forms the core of both my artistic and teaching practices and continues to accompany me through my life.


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