Devising & Collaborative Theatre Course Overview
These type of courses are good for the actor who wants to learn and train in theatre but wishes to use the skills to create their own original theatre work or maybe produce performances which are staged ‘outside of the theatre’. The devising actor may also want to create their own theatre for educational purposes. Devised theatre is created as a collaboration rather than from one writer. Theatre and films can be created using improvisation, for example Mike Leigh uses this type of method when creating a new piece of work. Many historical and contemporary theatre pieces and film works have been created using this method.
The student actor will be asked to experiment with ideas and techniques to help them discover their own creative voice. Recently in 2011, a group of recently graduated students from Central took SOLD (a play they devised as part of the course) to the Edinburgh Fringe and won the Amnesty International Award and a Media Award from the Human Trafficking Foundation. This type of ‘new theatre’ is becoming more and more popular and is being shown not only on stage but on screen.
The school may offer a course that introduces the student to a variety of methods for devising theatre in group contexts. There will no doubt be an historical look into devised theatre and practitioners that have worked in this way like Jerzy Grotowski, Peter Brook and Joan Littlewood of the Theatre Workshop.
The course may also introduce the student to all the aspects of theatre production like lighting design, stage design, music and sound, costume and props. A professional theatre devisor will need an insight into all the elements of putting a production together from start to finish.
The courses in devised theatre do differ but you may find that you will create a series of devised performances, each one getting more complex as the course progresses. Collaborative ability, communication skills, imagination, and risk-taking are the foundations for these rigorous courses. Some schools will offer short courses like playwriting, dramaturgy, scene studies, the history of ensemble theatre and directing. Other aspects of work could involve mask work, dance, voice work not to mention an in depth study into playwrights and practitioners. The work of Brecht is very popular in the devising world.
But before we go onto some useful audition tips, we just want to point out that a Devising and Collaborative Theatre Course is different from a straight acting course. Although you will be trained in the fundamental skills of acting, there comes with it a wide range of additional tools to help the actor create their own theatre work from scratch. The course tutors and audition panel will therefore be looking for those extra qualities that help you stand out from other performers.
So here is a list of useful tips on preparing yourself for that all important audition. As we have said before, the panel will be looking for more than a standard actor, singer or performer. As an actor devisor you will need to have imagination, passion, dedication and an edge that sets you apart from others. You will need to be able to prove that you have a unique theatrical voice and be able to get your point across in a clear, concise and creative way.