How to spark ideas in devising

The other day I was working with a group of adults, where we were all starting to devise from a starting point. They ways in we used could be used by anyone that is starting to create original theatre, or is working using a collaborative approach. This blog will share ideas from our own starting point and also some ideas about how to share our own reactions to the starting point.

Our starting point was THE DRAGON, and below are some links to resources that you may want to use:

Phase 1 – familiarity with the starting point

This phase is very important, as it is a chance for your to be honest with YOUR reposes. It is important that this phase is done alone. Below is our starting point. When you are reading and looking at the ideas, identify what it is that:

  • moves you?
  • inspires you?
  • sparks your imagination?
  • sparks your curiosity?
  • is an area you want to research more?
  • creates clear images in your head, vivid moments?

Phase 2 – who you are in what inspired you (done in pairs then as a whole group)

This next phase is a chance to share your ideas and perspective. It is important that are honest at this point, it is also very important that the rest of the group really LISTENS to what you have to say. When this sharing takes place the rest of the group should not listen with the intend to respond, but purely with the intention of understanding what you have said, and why these things inspired you.

In this phase each individual shares:

  1. Share what they took from phase 1 – their inspirations, ideas, moments
  2. Explain these moments referring to the starting point and their own notes
  3. Explain why these things had an impact on them, and maybe relate to themselves and their own context

N.B. At this stage there needs to be a note-taker so that all ideas are recorded, when all ideas are shared with the group

Phase 3 – Development (done in pairs and then as a whole group)

At this stage it is a chance to share and consolidate ideas, as well as to see how ideas grow when articulated. As there is the chance to speak to a partner and then the group, this is a chance to see how ideas grow when there is a reaction from a listener and ideas are vocalised.

  1. What would you like to develop?
  2. What direction are you going in as an artist in terms of style?
  3. What can you see in this performance?
  4. What key elements of the starting point are you using and developing? How?

Phase 4 – Practical development  (done in pairs then as a whole group)

This phase is crucial as it is when the work starts to take shape in practical terms. Each participant explains to a partner the following ideas sparked by the questions.

  • What will actually do to explore these ideas?
  • How will you practically show these ideas?
  • What ideas and techniques will you play with?
  • What practical work have you done that you can change and adapt?
  • What have you seen in practical work that you would like to try?
  • What is something you have never done before that you would like to try out?
  • What is the feel of your piece? Is is movement based? Is there music? Is there a message/meaning/story?
  • What is the intended impact of the piece on others?

Phase 5 – Doing the work & creating!

Now it is time to start working. By following these steps the collaborative team has a clear vision of what inspires them, how they want to work, and what they want to develop. They are now free to start the work, and see where it leads. The trick of this process is to always return to what your original intentions were, and not lose site of the starting point. The work may go off on a tangent, but it still needs to be clear where the final work grew from.

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