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Putting it Together: The Unique Process of Devised Theater

The Thespian Thoughts blog posts are meant to be a college student’s point of view on various topics in the world of theater to educate all on what encompasses this particular area of the arts.

This week I am in a play. But not just any play, it is a play created through the process of devised theater. What’s devised theater? Well, to quote our director Melissa Thompson, it is making a show ”from the gut up, rather than the brain down.”  I know that this still doesn’t make total sense, so allow me to explain the process my castmates and I went through.

Five weeks ago our show didn’t exist. All we had was a title, a scenic design and a theme of resistance. We did table work asking each other questions such as what does it mean to resist? When and why do we resist? What prevents us from resisting? What does resistance look like? Etc.

Then we moved on to physical exercises starting with theatrical composition work in which we watched each other sitting in chairs doing “nothing”. For you see even when you do nothing, something is happening and when you add other people into the tableau the story changes and grows. Our next step was to work on physical specificity and articulation of body movement. We all came up with specific physical gestures to do as individuals and once we had them down we could then articulate how we did them by either increasing or decreasing certain things such as frequency, tension, size, speed  and energy. In the show we are using these articulations to demonstrate the personalities and feelings of our characters. For example, if I was to walk quickly with lots of tension in my muscles, that says something totally different than if I were to walk slowly with my muscles loose and flailing.

After we understood these concepts we were then ready to create content for the piece. We presented personal prompts as well as splitting into groups and pairs to create different sequences that correlated to our theme of resistance. We showed them to each other, edited, revised and finally staged them. Now we have an original performance piece that is definitely not a traditional stage play, but is something all its own.

It has been an honor to collaborate with my fellow castmates and as we approach opening night I just want to thank them and our entire crew for their hard work. Wish us all broken legs!


Shameless plug time! If you are in the Farmington area this week and would like to see our show Staring Up at Giants at the Alumni Theater, the dates are the following:

March 1st-3rd at 7:30 pm

March 4th at 2:00 pm

Tickets are $8.00 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for UMF students with I.D.

To reserve tickets please call the reservation line at (207)-778-7465



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