Book Review – A Beginner’s Guide to Devising Theatre  

By Jess Thorpe & Tashi Gore
Published by Methuen Drama

Theatre does not have to start with a script and a story given to the cast by someone else. Watch any group of children in a playground playing a make-believe game. The story is emerging as they play.

Well slightly more formal theatre can, of course, be devised and developed in the same way. In this useful, practical book Jess Thorpe and Tashi Gore, the artistic directors of young people’s performance company, Junction 25, share methodology for creating theatre from scratch.

First you need to build a group dynamic – which means lots of bonding, games, activities until eventually the group is ready to experiment with topics, focusing on participants’ ideas, experiences and opinions, before finding one to work on in more depth. The work then goes through various stages including creating a structure, reflecting and, in the end, sharing it with an audience.

The central how-to section is preceded by an opening section telling the reader more about the work of Junction 25 (founded 2005) and discussing the rationale for devised theatre. The penultimate section of the book comprises five interviews with practitioners and specific shows they have devised which broadens the scope. 

Once the structure and order of the show is agreed it is important to document it, say Thorpe and Gore. And there are examples of “running orders” at the end of the book. 

The emphasis, throughout, is on collaboration – an essential life skill. In its way, although I doubt it was the prime intention, this book demonstrates just how much drama can contribute to educational development. Any young person who comes successfully through this process will be equipped for almost anything.

Reviewed by Susan Elkin

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.