Devised Theatre Project
Devising is loosely defined as the process of collaboratively creating a new work without a pre-existing script wherein the collaborators are also the performers. I say loosely because every devising company creates their own method of working based on the subject of investigation and the strengths of the collaborators. Not every company member must perform for it to be a devised piece, but the majority often does. In short, the collaborative creators are also the performers.
In the standard theatre model, a single playwright writes the text and then a director casts actors and selects designers to interpret that text, resulting in a theatre production. With devised theatre, however, the collective artists begin without a script. They might even decide to liberate themselves by surrendering their traditional, specialized theatrical roles of actors, designers, playwrights, or directors and start as theatre generalists (or cross-trainers) with an idea, a hunch, that takes them into a studio space to investigate collaboratively – to unpack that hunch. A devised piece of theatre can literally start with anything: a painting, a song, a real-life event, a novel to adapt, a KCACTF national prompt, etc.
Again, multiple ways to devise exist. However, a deep study of devising shows that many companies’ processes include five key stages: research, creation, development, rehearsal, and performance. It has been my experience that these stages should have roughly the same duration of time, knowing that the borders of each stage will continually be crossed by the devisers as they move through their process.