A few thoughts on devising

The Snow Queen Rehearsals - Robin Guiver, Alexander Parsonage and Tony Cleary

There are no fixed rules when it comes to devising. Each project is different. But here are some suggestions we’ve found useful:

1) Start with as much stuff as you can in the room. Begin by bringing in as much stuff as you can and create a safe environment for your devisers to play with it. If they’re physical objects make sure they’re not irreplaceable / too valuable to play with, if it’s stories make sure they’re not too emotionally valuable to play with. Be generous and give your devisers as much as you can.

2) If content is important – script it. Devising rooms are good places to find play, they are not so good at honing text. If the content of the text is important either pre-script and then find the play in staging it. Or find play in the devising room without worrying about content and then hone the text afterwards and weave the ‘message’ in.

3) Don’t worry about end product while devising. Play, play, play. End gaming will close down the fun and stop you creating.

4) Set up a clear structure that everyone can understand and then stick to it. Structure helps people play. Time frame, breaks, the rules of the game – the more structures there are (that people don’t need to question or worry about) the more free they’ll be to play in the space that’s left.

5) Know who’s in charge. Either of a specific exercise, or of the whole process. Having someone in charge at any given time is part of giving people a structure they can play in.

6)  Be light on your feet and have fun – so if your not enjoying something have the flexibility to just move on. There’s no point in grinding away at something if its not fun. If you’re not enjoying yourself making it – it’s a fair bet the audience won’t enjoy watching it. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is stop. Don’t be afraid to call it a day – putting in hours for the sake if it will do no one any favours.

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