Essential Videos on Devising: Part 1

This week we take a look at a range of ‘devising’ theatre companies. We have used the companies featured in The Contemporary Ensemble: Interviews with Theatre-Makers edited by Duška Radosavljević and Devising in Process edited by Alex Mermikides and Jackie Smart. This can be a visual accompaniment to these fantastic books.


Song of the Goat

In this interview Grzegorz Bral director of Song of the Goat Theatre and LSPAP talks about London School of Performing Arts Practices, Brave festival, coordination technique and his approach to theatre and performing arts.

The Riot Group


By Adriano Shaplin

Directed by Rebecca Wright

Performed by Kristen BaileyDrew FriedmanAdriano ShaplinMary TuomanenStephanie Viola

Set by Caitlin Lainoff / Lights by Maria Shaplin / Costumes by Katherine Fritz / Sound by Adriano Shaplin

Performed at Incubator Arts Project, May 2012, NYC

“Delicately hilarious…a clear-eyed ethnography of our own species at a specific developmental stage…the ensemble seems exquisitely tuned to a difficult chord of poignancy and awkwardness.” Time Out

SOPHIE 5-18-12 MASTER H264 1280×720 from The Riot Group on Vimeo.


By Adriano Shaplin

Directed by Whit MacLaughlin

Performed by Drew FriedmanMcKenna KerriganJeb KreagerMary McCoolPaul SchnabelAdriano ShaplinStephanie Viola

Lights Maria Shaplin / Costumes Rosemarie McKelvey / Sound Whit MacLaughlin / Projection Design Jorge Cousineau / Production Stage Manager Emily Rea / Executive Producer: New Paradise Laboratories

Freedom Club was made possible with the support of Princeton University, Drexel University, the Off-Center for Dramatic Arts, the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage through the Philadelphia Theatre Initiative, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Epic theatre…possessing a unique, violent, and total language, at once written, spoken, and played.” –CultureBot

“In Freedom Club the darker underpinnings of human liberty are considered with a grim cackle.” –The New York Times

“A daring mashup by two experimental companies (Philadelphia’s New Paradise Laboratories and New York’s the Riot Group) and two eras (1865 and 2015), “Freedom Club” indicts fanatical radicalism in America. Aptly self-described as “a hallucination on national themes,” the satire vividly skewers self-aggrandizing extremists from John Wilkes Booth to a feminist collective that spawns another presidential assassin.” -Variety

Freedom Club from The Riot Group on Vimeo.

The Neo-Futurists

A short documentary about The Neo-Futurists and their long running late night show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. Contains clips from the show and interviews with, Jay Torrence, Heather Riordan, Caitlin Stainken, Greg Allen and others. The Neo-Futurist are a Chicago based theater company who produce the longest running show in Chicago, T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B. (30 plays in 60 minutes) , as well as a full season of original primetime shows.

Ontroerend Goed

History oktober 2014 deel 2 from Ontroerend Goed on Vimeo.

ALL THAT IS WRONG – FULL PLAY from Ontroerend Goed on Vimeo.

Tom Nicholas caught Ontroerend Goed’s £¥€$ (or Lies) at the Drum Theatre this week ahead of its transfer to Summerhall and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This interactive piece by the Belgian provocateurs sees the theatre transformed into a casino and audiences into freewheeling free market capitalists. Here’s Tom’s performance analysis of the show.

Tom is an exciting theatre vlogger putting out interesting new videos every week discussing theatre and playwriting from the perspective of an aspirant and (some might say) emerging playwright, theatre maker and academic. Support this fantastic tool with a subscription.

Twitter: @Tom_Nicholas


The People Show

People Show 121: The Detective Show from People Show on Vimeo.

Station House Opera

Julian Maynard Smith is the founder and artistic director of Station House Opera. Founded in 1978, Station House Opera creates solo and group performance work as well as sculpture and installation. Dissolved is the company’s first new work since the city scale site specific project Dominoes in 2009 and follows earlier intercontinental performances developed as far back as 2004. Their distinctive engagement with audiences crosses new boundaries with an installation and performance that uses live video streaming to dissolve spaces in London and Berlin, bringing people from both cities into dynamic connection.

dissolved (extract) from julian maynard smith on Vimeo.

Station House Opera – Snakes and Ladders from julian maynard smith on Vimeo.

Station House Opera – Mind Out from julian maynard smith on Vimeo.

Theatre O

This is Theatre O’s vision statement. Rather than just have something written down on a piece of paper, they thought it would better to reflect how they approach work by making something a little more visual. They worked with animator and long term collaborator, Paddy Molloy, who made a stop frame animation of the creation and destruction of a drawing he made based on our previous work.

Vision from theatre O on Vimeo.

Delirium Trailer from theatre O on Vimeo.

The Argument – Car Crash from theatre O on Vimeo.

The Argument – On Old Age from theatre O on Vimeo.


Gecko Compilation 2015 from Gecko Theatre on Vimeo.

About Gecko | Education from Gecko Theatre on Vimeo.

Amit FAQs | Education | Gecko from Gecko Theatre on Vimeo.

FAQs for a Gecko Performer | Education | Gecko from Gecko Theatre on Vimeo.

Third Angel

Third Angel have always worked with rules when making shows, and they’ve always enjoyed the creativity that those restrictions give us – as well as enjoying the moment when you realise that the rules need to be broken. Popcorn is a performance for both camera and live audience reflecting on rules, time, making stuff, shared language, shared history and friendship. Performed and filmed on location at The Holt cafe and art-space, Sheffield.

Third Angel: POPCORN from Third Angel on Vimeo.

Essential Videos on Movement

This weeks video resources focus on movement. Here is a selection of video content from around the web. There is the full spectrum here, from abstract dance to more naturalistic theatre. Some are training masterclasses and some are performances. I hope each can serve as an inspiration for your own creativity.

PLEASE NOTE: Not all movement exercises are suitable for everyone and this or any other movement exercise may result in injury. To reduce the risk of injury, never force or strain, use the exercises only as intended and demonstrated, and follow all instructions carefully.

A Eurhythmics introduction and demonstration with Lisa Parker, director of the Dalcroze Eurhythmics program at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA. Lisa discusses Eurhythmics, its goals and benefits through a lesson on measure shape.

In the 1990’s, after the opening of archives in the former Soviet Union, an original source of Biomechanics became known. Nikolai Kustow, the Biomechanics instructor in Meyerhold’s Theater, maintained a “hidden” school and secretly passed on principles and etudes to a new generation of actors. In this video, Russian actor and pedagogue, Gennadi Bogdanov is shown presenting the most important etudes and principles of Biomechanics. In addition to historical film and photodocumentation of Biomechanics, the video also displays recent scenic work from Europe and the USA developed from the basis of Meyerhold’s Biomechanics. In English, 43 mins, colour & Black & white.

Gennadi Bogdanov demonstrates a Biomechanics study created by Meyerhold. Then he applies the work to a study of Lucky’s monologue in Waiting for Godot.

The study of Meyerhold’s ‘Throwing the Stone’. This video shows a demonstration of Meyerhold’s study by Ralf Réuker, student of Gennadi Bogdanov, and analyzed by Eugenio Barba. It was taken during a series of lectures organized in 1997 by the Center for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, Wales. During the demonstration Barba sometimes addresses the audience and in Ralph, the student of Biomechanics.

Revolutionary dancer and choreographer Mary Wigman introduces some of her work.

Martha Graham discusses her craft in A Dancer’s World.

Choreographer Merce Cunningham took chances. Over a seven decade career, his explorations reshaped dance into a new kind of art form, deeply influencing visual art, film, and music along the way. Through experimental collaborations with John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Marcel Duchamp, and others, he became the 20th century’s most influential choreographer. In conjunction with the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time, we look at the many sides of Cunningham: dance maker, collaborator, chance-taker, innovator, film producer, and teacher.

In the spring of 1981, during a residency at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage sat down to discuss their work and artistic process. As frequent collaborators, Cage and Cunningham pioneered a new framework of performance. Their novel approach allowed for mediums to exist independently, or rather cohabitate, within a performance, thus abandoning the co-dependent model of dance and music. Cage and Cunningham go on to discuss the methodology and motivations behind chance operations, a term used to describe artistic decisions based on unpredictability. Wanting to free himself of his likes and dislikes, Cage describes how Zen Buddhism influenced his work, leading him to use tools of chance. These new methods, adopted by both Cunningham and Cage, overturned a whole foundation of thought around music, movement, and the process of creating art.

Taken from a television special called The Body Speaks, Ryszard Cieslak of Grotowski’s Laboratory briefly speaking and then presenting some exercises in the Plastiques and Corporals with two Danish students.

We all use our body on a daily basis, and yet few of us think about our physicality the way Wayne McGregor does. He demonstrates how a choreographer communicates ideas to an audience, working with two dancers to build phrases of dance, live and unscripted, on the TEDGlobal stage.

Wayne McGregor is well known for his physically testing choreography and ground-breaking collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science. In 2000, he and his company Wayne McGregor | Random Dance embarked on a series of projects investigating aspects of creativity in dance with researchers from other fields such as cognitive and social science.

A series of systems developed for choreographers to engage more fully the imaginations of performers tasked with generating new movement material.

Spring Dance 2011 hosted the world premiere of DV8’s newest work Can We Talk About This? The performance deals with freedom of speech, censorship and Islam using real life interviews and archive footage to examine influences on multicultural policies, press freedom and artistic censorship. Australian Lloyd Newson conceived and directed the work and founded DV8 in 1986.

The clip starts at a monologue with hand choreography that is particularly interesting.

Masterclass with Akram Khan including interviews

Follow Akram Khan for a day

Clip from Zero Degrees – ‘zero degrees is the reference point where everything begins…and everything ends’. Akram Khan

zero degrees, Akram Khan Company from Akram Khan Company on Vimeo.

In order to help students and teachers who wish to use Hofesh’s work as a stimulus to perform a solo in the style of a specified practitioner, Hofesh and the company offer this short film resource and accompanying study notes which can be downloaded here: http://hofesh-media.s3-eu-west-1.amaz… In this resource Hofesh shares an extract from his 2010 work Political Mother, which he feels best encapsulates his movement style. This extract is danced by company member Chien-Ming Chang (known to us all as Ming) who was an original cast member of Political Mother.

Maze is an immersive new performance presented by Jasmin Vardimon Company and Turner Contemporary, choreographed by critically-acclaimed director Jasmin Vardimon, in collaboration with Ron Arad and artist Guy Bar-Amotz. This film gives an incredible insight into Jasmin’s creation process for both the structure and the performance. It provides a deeper look at the working methods of her company, and how they’ve been adapted to the unique new environment, and exploring some of the motivations and challenges encountered.

Jasmin Vardimon Company Repertoire

Gecko has fantastic video resources with many of their full shows available here. I have chosen The Time of Your Life that was developed specifically as a piece of filmed theatre. It is a great introduction to their work.

Vanessa Ewan leads this movement direction masterclass, guiding an actor playing Nora from A Doll’s House using techniques to explore physicality and enhance character transformation.

Ever wondered what a Movement Director does? In this short film we hear from Movement Directors Joseph Alford, Kate Flatt, Imogen Knight and Diane Alison-Mitchell explaining their role in a production, the key differences between movement direction and choreography and how movement develops its own theatrical language in performance.