Christopher Harrisson, 25 January 2015


Our discussion started by centering around these term; the group concluded that they

would be fairly general terms referring to whether a piece of work had a script (words)

as its starting point, or another starting point more typical of devised theatre and work

in visual/physical genres.

Whatever the starting point, we discussed the possibility of this as a false binary,

images and words being tools for the same purpose. This led the discussion onto:

Are theatres, producers and organisations aware enough of the processes

involved in creating both types of work, and do they have levels of support in

place to accomodate them?

Experience in the group was that producing and receiving theatres seem to be

growing increasingly risk-averse regarding non script-based work, signalling a lack of

trust between venues and artists. This is similarly reflecting in the legal frameworks in

place for the creation of work- the contracting system feeling increasingly outdated,

with the creators on a devising project being employed (and thus paid) through

restrictive categories of writer, director etc. The group discussed the possibility of

pushing for a better vocabulary in producing work, but perhaps also in the response to

such work as critics, audiences and collaborators. An observation was made that in

the world of visual art, a broad and varied audience had grown accustomed and

responded to abstract and impressionist art, but that leap had yet to be made in

theatre, with new work remaining literal and literary.

A point was made there is perhaps a false perception, particularly among

non-practitioners, that devising work requires more time, which forgets the time spent

workshopping, developing and writing a script before rehearsals. Devising companies

are often required to create their play in a short amount of time, the absence of a

writer being viewed as a cost-saving measure (one less person to employ!) rather than

as a different way of working. It also discredits the writer as a deviser and perpetuates

the myth of the writer as a solo being divorced from the collaborative nature of theatre



As artists, programmers and consumers, we should push for public perception of the

two types of work as non-exclusive to each other, in each case responding to the

collaborative nature of text-based work and the concept of image-led, devised work as

‘written’. This should be reflected in contracting and crediting for creatives- companies

and artists should work with venues, companies etc. to create a new vocabulary to

better reflect collective ownership of a work. The responsibility for this lies with both

parties, but the artists may have to lead the discussion.


Programming, programming, Writing, Script-based, writing, devised, word-led,

risk-averse, creating, image-led, contracts, credit