This Martin Luther King Day I facilitated a Devising Workshop. I posted on my personal Facebook how excited I was that the workshop was on the day commemorating the late Dr. MLK Jr. How better to celebrate the man who wanted us to build a better world- than by giving a group of people the tools with which to do so.
If you don't know what I mean by devise then let me define it for you.
Devised Theatre is any piece born out of group collaboration
Devised theatre comes in many forms but each form yields the same results.
Devising Creates Team Players
Creating original work is an incredibly grueling task. You start with nothing and in the best circumstance have a vague outline of what you would like to create. The kicker is that every individual involved in the process has filled in that outline in a completely different way. The devising process helps train collaborative minds. Enza and I enjoy the phrase, "Step up, step back." If you've been talking and sharing, step back. If you haven't said a word, step up. This give and take happens in all workplaces, relationships, and car rides you can think of.
Devising Creates Intelligent Individuals
Devising only works if everyone chips in. Remember "Step up, step back." This type of check in makes sure that each person has to form their own opinion. Collaborative work produces a space where every voice is needed so every voice is valued.
Devising Creates Confidence
No matter how often I do it- I'm amazed that devising pieces works. I stop and think to myself, "How did this group make something out of nothing?!" The truth is that we as people are enough. We have enough in our singular being to create something beautiful. Experiencing one's enough-ness builds confidence in oneself and in others. (Yeah, enough-ness. That's a thing)
Devising Creates Compassion
When you create with a group of people you don't only have to listen to what they say- you have to open yourself to understanding their point of view. Every person you meet has an experience unique to themselves- this is what makes the world so diverse. While in every day life it is easy to villainize "the other" in devising you have to accept "the other" as your partner. You have to learn and embrace their truth as a truth. As you embrace the truth of others you begin to abolish ignorance in yourself.
Devising Creates Our Future
Our world is broken and imperfect. There will always be multiple views on how to solve each problem. We will get no where if we just all stand shouting at one another or if we all rush to fix up the world on our own. We have to build anew. Devising a theatre piece is a practical and way to replicate the process of building a better world. HECK! We can devise the process by which our world improves. We each have an idea of how to fill in the outline- we just have to do it together. It might be theatre work- but it's still work.
As Dr. MLK Jr. Would Say...
No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.