As someone who would probably be considered a bit of a jock in high school the world of theater is something I have never been exposed to. Prior to this class I had no idea what to expect. The only form of theater I have ever been around are Broadway plays. So my initial impression was that we would be studying Broadway plays and everything that goes into the Broadway process. On the first day of class I realized that were would be exploring a different type of theater.
Early in the semester I decided it would be wise to familiarize myself with devised theater so I began to read the text. I was inspired by the theatre companies we read about because of their creative process to develop performances with limited resources. Our class was in the same situation during our process because we didn’t have a large budget so we had to work with what we had, which wasn’t much. Looking back on it I think it’s pretty awesome that we were able to develop a powerful performance with no costumes, props or high tech lighting systems that most plays would use.
To develop our performance we dug deep into stories of our ancestors in order to generate material. This part was challenging for me because my mother and father know absolutely nothing about their ancestors. So I decided to focus on the stories of aunts, uncles and grandparents that were important people in my parent’s lives. These were also people whom I did not know very well during my lifetime because they passed away when I was very young. Through this process I was able to learn some pretty fascinating things about my great uncle and great grandfather. The stories I had about them were inspiring and made this project fun and exciting. Without this class I would never have thought to explore the lives people like Pop and my great uncle Jim. This process of devising our performance opened up a whole new world to me that has forced me to want to know more about my ancestors and cousins I never met. It is because of this class and the devising process that I now have a high level of curiosity about my ancestors and their stories.
One really important thing I learned from taking this course is that theater doesn’t have to be singing and dancing with high tech lighting, music and fancy costumes. Devised theater is a gateway to exploring our level of creativity. We started this class with absolutely no material or knowledge of how the process works but in the end we came out with a performance that allowed us to explore our family’s past. As a business major I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn about influential people in my family since that’s not something you would typically do in a business course. I’m thankful for this class and what I got out of it even though I’m not the most talented actor on stage. Our performance and my positive experience of exploring my ancestors is an example of how devised theater can be highly beneficial to our lives.