Group devised theatre: a theoretical and practical examination of devising processes
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 09:13 authored by Rosemary Frances Parsons
This non-traditional thesis explores the practical and theoretical processes of group-devised theatre. The research informing this thesis is derived from two interrelated components - a practical project in group devising, and a theoretical study of alternative theatre, devising methodologies, and performance theory. -- Chapter One defines "devising" before tracing its origins through the development of experimental practices from the historical avant-garde to the present day. These practices include radical disruptions to discursive language and structure, increased multimedia, reconsiderations of the performer's function and the use of improvisation. This genealogy is argued to be a "literature of practice" capable of informing contemporary devising projects, as well as helping to establish the position of devising within contemporary performance theory. -- Chapter Two examines how creative collaborators begin to form and function as a devising group, a period I theoretically term "pre-devising". By examining the experiences of my group, gaps in devising literature concerning group formation and composition are identified, complemented by an investigation into the role of theatre games in building ensemble. -- Chapter Three draws upon the genealogy of devising, devising literature and performance theory to interrogate the process of devising our production, This Is Not An Exit. The theoretical and practical problems of our methods are explored. These methods include organising the group as an artistic democracy, developing naturalistic characters, and establishing a "postmodern aesthetic". By analysing our experiences, this chapter attempts to illustrate the complex tangle of influences informing contemporary performance practitioners, and highlight areas ripe for future critical research.