Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Devising: my favourite definitions


Devising, as a concept, is a tricky thing to pin down. Companies that devise and academics often talk in loose terms about how devising works. Alison Oddey, in her book Devising Theatre introduced it saying that "devised theatre can start from anything. It is determined by a group of people who set up an initial framework or structure to explore and experiment with ideas, images, concepts, themes, or specific stimuli that might include music, text, objects, paintings, or movement. A devised theatrical performance originates with the group while making the performance, rather than starting from a play text that someone else has written to be interpreted."

For me, as an artist and a teacher, there are three companies that have majorly influenced my understanding of devising. Goat Island and Forced Ents both have excellent resources and books which I recommend as great reading if wanting to know more about devising.

Unfortunately Goat island stopped making work in 2007, and their resources might be tough to get your hands on, but their little Schoolbook 2 described their process wonderfully. Replace the words Goat Island with your own class or group and this methodology can be something to aim for.

Tim Etchells eloquently describes the process of Forced Entertainment, in his book Certain Fragments

This one's a bit different, in that it was a company I co-founded with four friends. We worked together for four years before heading off on our separate ways, but in this time we developed our own practice of devising; a methodology which still guides me today.


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