When I walked into the first class for Seminar in Devising Theatre: Health and Care, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I had signed up for it last semester to fulfill my last seminar class as an undergraduate theatre studies major at Kent. I was extremely apprehensive when I signed up for a class that so intensely involves acting, considering I am engaged in a stage management concentration and I haven’t been on the stage since high school. I was pleasantly surprised.
After going over a few housekeeping notes (syllabus, etc.), we began to play a few games to get to know the people in the room (which by the way is a huge class—about 30 or so). One game that struck me as extremely interesting involved everyone in the room grouping themselves together (based on an instruction given by instructor Katherine Burke) without speaking. This led to flapping arms, pointing at things, and some valiant, yet unrecognizable efforts at pantomiming (an example would be favorite food—try and pantomime Greek food. It’s hard). While some of it was comical, the idea that most of the people in the room became aware of was the fact that although it is entirely possible, it is still extremely difficult to communicate without speech. We had to work together as a company to obtain a common goal.
One exercise that we did that truly inspired me took place near the end of our first class. One person went into the middle of a circle created by the rest of the group and said exactly how they were feeling in that moment. Anyone from the outside of the circle could then tap the person in the middle on the shoulder, and build on that statement of how they were feeling. People made statements that a lot of times you may be thinking, but are afraid to say out loud. It was extremely organic and honest. This is one of the unique things that Devising Theatre allows artists to do: it enables them to collaborate on a project in a very organic and vulnerable way.
Although I was very inspired, I am still trying to work my way out of my ‘I like to be in the booth and call the show, not be on stage’ shell. I believe that this class will allow me to grow as a theatre artist, giving me the opportunity to see theatre from a completely different angle. I am hoping that next time I will be able to step into the circle and proclaim to the world exactly how I feel.