My Experience of Devised Theatre


As an individual who has always appreciated the art of theatre, but has also had consistently miserable experiences partaking in it, I was reluctant to registering for this course. I had assumed that it would consist of various in-class skits and dialogue, little did I know that I would be participating in a performance that was planned to take place in our University’s recital hall. When this was made clear to me within our first couple weeks of class my brain had processed every possible way I escape this particular course requirement. I obviously failed miserably.

I began to learn and understand the intricacies of devised theatre and it began to seem like a realistic way that I could become involved in something completely foreign to my prior experiences within theatre. The collaborative process was more than uncomfortable at first, but once I could see the way our in class activities could potentially inspire our main performance; it became captivating. The devised process allowed us all to approach the intimidating final performance in our own ways, which ultimately made it feel natural and less like “acting.”

Although the reading was very interesting to me the whole way through our course discussions, I found myself faced with an unsurpassable obstacle for nearly one month of our course. We had been assigned the task of collecting old, family heirlooms and artifacts that would make our stories come to life. It would seems as though this was such a simple assignment, unless of course you’re from Minnesota (like myself) with no plans of visiting until fall break. I had so much hope that I would find the missing piece to my puzzle when I went home that when I’d realized I still had very little to contribute towards this project I became even more disheartened.

It wasn’t until two weeks prior to our performance that Daniel suggested I focus on the mystery of my great-great-grandmother Ingaborg. I’d always known that she was cold and mean, but I never thought so much as to look into it. She was the intriguing family mystery that I’d overlooked time after time. By bringing my honest, discouragement to the table I offered Daniel and my peers a critical lens through which to view my stories in hope of showing me something I’d been scanning over; sure enough that was the case the whole time.

Not only did this project allow me a reason to look deeper into my family’s history, but also I feel as though my classmates and I developed a very unique bond with one another. Not only because we came to know so much about each others families, we were all willing to be vulnerable in a setting unfamiliar to us – the stage. We embraced each other’s stories, mistakes, and accomplishments as we all overcame our stage fright together.

I would be really interested to facilitate a devised performance myself. I really enjoyed learning of the devised projects within the prison system and I think that this technique could do great work in various fields of therapy to encourage personal growth. I know I felt empowered to have done something so far out of my comfort zone as to perform on stage, in an intimate setting, in front of so many strangers.

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