Michela Sisti, 25 January 2015

I called this session in order to have a conversation about the different possibilities of collaborating with composers, musicians, designers and other creatives during the devising process.

I've never devised anything myself. An article I read back in December about an orangutan who was pronounced a “non-human person” by an Argentinian court and subsequently released from the zoo that was keeping her got all sorts of questions about consciousness, personhood, and the stories we tell ourselves as a human species firing around in my head. I'm burning to start exploring these questions in the rehearsal room with people of all sorts of creative backgrounds. Today's session was extremely helpful in bringing to light the different challenges and possibilities of devising work. It showed me that there is really is no one method or fixed set of techniques that people use. If anything - bravery, trust and a willingness to play came up again and again as the core principles of devising.

Here are some notes from our conversations:

- The possibilities for a designer to be involved in the creation of a piece are pretty much endless. Some examples: The designer can stay in the rehearsal room as an observer, take in what is being produced and draw up designs in response to the

work. The designer can become an active part of the devising ensemble, doing everything thing that the performers do in the rehearsal room. The designer can have materials to work with in the rehearsal room and create props, costumes and architecture on the spot that become stimuli for the performers. There can be an exchange of rapid response between the creations of the designer and the creations of the performers. Any of these models could also work with a composer, writer, painter, you-name-it in the room.

- You can set research tasks to everyone involved in the creation of the show.

- You can give each team (team design, team music, team performance) the same creative prompt - eg. How do we create the experience of a wave crashing against the shore? - have them work on it, and then come back and share it with each other.

- Prompts can be tasks (How to we represent ___?) but they can also be questions (What is consciousness?)

- You can experiment with getting the designers to work on music, the composers and musician to work on performance, the performers to work on design, etc. Often great ideas come from people working outside their specialty.

- Viewpoints: developed as a shared language for people to use with each other when collaborating across the arts. There is a Viewpoints book to check out.

- Having a sense of what you want you audience to come away with after seeing your show can be a good focusing tool for sprawling material.

- Frantic Assembly has published a book with exercises and points of departure for devising.

- There is a course on devised performance taught by Catherine Alexander (Complicite) at Central

As a next step, I am going to hold a series of R and D sessions on my project “The Dangers and Rewards of Looking Outside of Ourselves.” I would love to play around and devise with all sorts of people from across the arts. I will be posting more details in the next few days!

Thank you to everyone who attended this session and shared their experiences and ideas.

- Michela