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Why devise?

March 11, 2014

This semester, I’m finally taking a class I have been waiting for: Devising. The waiting was worth it – I’m doing the kind of theatre I’ve been craving and the results astound me in every class.

Instead of starting with a text, we skip the script and we play. Isn’t that what we are? Players? Through improv and collaboration, a simple exercise found itself focused in on the word “protect” and the idea of daddy issues was turned into planets orbiting and eventually became a scene about public transportation. I couldn’t tell you how we went from daddy issues to the subway, but we devised.

But WHY? Why devise theatre? What’s wrong with pulling some good old Shakespeare off the shelf, or following the stage directions?

Nothing. Nothing is wrong with that. I’ve only started the class this semester but I have used devising exercises to create pieces for two different shows now and by far, I am more satisfied with those final performances that involved devising than any other production I have worked on. Instead of obsessing with blocking and beats, I am intimately involved by playing and that play opens me up to the possibilities. I’m more physically challenged and mentally connected. Emotionally, I’m closer to others – we are not just cast-mates but collaborators. When I started off in college, the only kind of theatre I knew about was musicals – now that I’m about to graduate, I consider myself lucky that I’m graduating from a school that taught me more and let me learn about all theatre so now I know that I want to keep on devising.

Now, enjoy this video by the incredible Frantic Assembly (and should they read this blog post…Let me know if you are holding auditions for non-British college students):

College Sig

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