Devising Theatre: Scene to Script

Devised Theatre refers to original performances created, workshopped, and produced by an ensemble. Unlike traditional forms of theatre, devised theatre does not begin with a script. Rather, it begins with a vision, some source material, and a willingness to experiment collaboratively. The challenge of Devised Theatre isn't the experimentation, but rather the construction of a final product.


Devised Theatre might be analogized as a collage. Finding ideas, colors, and cuttings for the collage is not difficult, but organizing your findings and sticking them to the final surface can be painstaking. This is where improvised theatre can help. Long Form improv structures provide a powerful template for devised theatre. 

Improvisation is often misunderstood as unplanned theatre made up "on the spot." While it's certainly true that improv is created in the moment, it is not random, spontaneous, or disorganized. Imagine a musician trying to improvise jazz having never played an instrument. It can't be done! Improvisers spend weeks rehearsing, not their content, but their craft. They improvise around a set of principles and structures. Understanding these techniques is essential for the devising theatre artist.

In this intermediate workshop we will demystify the devising process by studying Long Form improv structures, including "The Harold" and "The Deconstruction." These structures are ideal templates for Devised Theatre because they prioritize thematic exploration over plot. They encourage actors to play at the top of their intelligence, unearthing the intuitive. The Harold and The Deconstruction serve as case studies for how improv techniques can guide the devising process, opening up worlds of possibility for the blending of Long Form and Devised Theater.

Students will walk away understanding how to approach source material through thematic reflection, how to identify potential narrative connections, and how to customize Long Form improv to suit the needs of their devising company. We will adopt and discover new ways to talk about improv by cultivating awareness and connectivity with our bodies and each other. Using a new vocabulary of creation and presence, students will be able to explore the dream-like quality of improv scenes, creating organic compositions that are transformative, communal, and impactful.