Let’s Make a Play:  Devising Theatre

Instructor: Robert Cooper

Course Description and Objectives

Using the ideas and suggestions outlined in Alison Oddey’s Devising Theatre, and other improvisation techniques, students will create and produce a performance piece.  Devised theatre may be defined as “works which are not initially or primarily scripted by a playwright or dominated by a director-auteur’s score, works which are instead created primarily by performers, with designers and directors in intensive collaboration” (J. B. Schmor, “Devising New Theatre for College Programs”).

 Goals

Students will:

1.     expand and improve their abilities to use English, both written and spoken, through writing, discussions, and rehearsals;

2.    develop their creativity through improvisation and scene creation;

3.    develop an understanding to theatre, what it is, and how it is created;

4.    expand their ability to work collaboratively for a greater cause.

Texts

No text is required for this course.  Readings will be given to the students as needed.

Requirements & Grading

The final grade will be determined based on the following criteria:

                         --    2 Self-Assessments                 20%

                        --    3 Idea Journals                          30%   

                        --    Participation and attendance  50%

                                                                                 100%

Student Self-Assessments

Students will write two evaluations in which they will assess their participation in the programme, their weaknesses and their strengths, and their progress.  They will also be welcome to evaluate the course itself.  Each evaluation will be graded out of 10, according to the perceived honesty of the evaluation and its completeness.

Journals

Students will write daily entries into their creative journals.  These are meant to encourage creativity and the exploration of ideas.  They will be collected for review three times.

Each journal will be graded out of 10 according to the completeness of entries, the student’s willingness to risk and explore ideas, and the writer’s ability to write.

Tentative Schedule

Specific reading assignments will be announced in class.  I reserve the right to make changes in the course schedule as required.

M = Monday, T=Tuesday, W=Wednesday, R=Thursday

 

Class

Week

Day

Date

Topic

Assignment

Assignment Due

1

1

T

06/26

Introduction(s)

Discussion

Warm-ups

Write ideas

 

2

1

W

06/27

Planning & Discussion

Warm-ups

Improvisations

*See note

 

Written ideas for presentation

3

1

R

06/28

Voice and elocution

Improvisations

 

 

4

2

M

07/2

Playback Theatre

Planning

Rehearsals

 

Journal #1

5

2

T

07/3

Costumes Planning Rehearsals

 

 

6

2

W

07/4

Sets Planning

Rehearsals

 

 

7

2

R

07/5

Sets

Rehearsals

 

Written evaluation #1

8

3

M

07/9

Sound

Rehearsals

 

Journal #2

9

3

T

07/10

Costumes and sets

Rehearsals

 

 

10

3

W

07/11

Costumes and sets

Rehearsals

 

 

11

3

R

07/12

Rehearsals

First Run-through

 

 

12

4

M

07/16

Scene Rehearsals

 

Journal #3

 13

4

T

07/17

Scene Rehearsals

 

 

 14

4

W

07/18

Dress Rehearsal(s)

 

Written evaluation #2

15

4

R

07/09

Final Performance

 

 

*Note:  Most class sessions will begin with a preliminary planning meeting/discussion, followed by warm-ups and improvisations.

These will be followed by break-out groups to plan and rehearse the groups’ segments for the Final Performance.

Bibliography

 Booth, David W., Improvisation: Learning Through Drama.  Don Mills, Ontario:  Academic Press Canada, 1985.

 Buys, William E. and James M. Copeland, Non-competitive Speech Activities.  Lincolnwood, Illinois: National Textbook Company, 1985.

 Courtney, Richard, Re-Play:  Studies of Human Drama in Education.  Toronto: OISE Press, 1982.

 Oddey, Allison, Devising Theatre: A practical and theoretical handbook.  London: Routledge, 1994.

 Salas, Jo, Improvising Real Life. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt, 1996.

 Way, Brian,  Development through Drama.  London: Longman, 1967.

 

Student Self-Assessment  (By Laure Paquette, PhD)

First Assignment: Personal Goals Statement
Prepare a paper (at least 750 words) that identifies your personal goals for this course. This statement should be specific and detailed. The paper should also contain a description of how you plan to meet your goals. If it helps, you are welcome to set weekly goals and a time schedule. You should do whatever will help you think through why you are taking this particular course and how it fits in with your overall learning goals.

Last Assignment: What Have You Learned from the Class?
Write a self evaluation paper (at least 750 words) in which you analyze how well you met your personal goals for the course. If your goals changed, discuss how and if unforeseen goals emerged, describe what they were. Conclude the paper by assigning yourself an overall-grade based on your performance in the course. That grade will constitute 10 of the 30 points available for this assignment.