BWW Blog: Devising as a Way to Achieve Clarity - by Luci DeVoy
I'm going to ask you to write a show about "The Body". Write a show for an audience that will represent them and your own experience and give them new ideas presented in a meaningful way.
Are your thoughts concise enough to even explain fundamentally what your own experience is?
Dear god, immediately it's overwhelming, daunting, exhausting, exhilarating. Though, you'd still have something to say about it. Right?
The first day of joining Honest Accomplice Theatre (HAT) with their new show ReconFIGUREd, I had a vague notion of what to expect and it made me desperately nervous.
I grew up on a reservation surrounded by strong Native people whose entire lives were devoted to advocacy work for better representation of tribal identity. I had worried that I didn't bring enough ability to respectfully and succinctly share that experience.
In addition to that I am so much more than just Native. I'm a woman, I'm queer, I'm plus sized, I'm educated, I'm so many things and none of those things.
Devised theatre is an incredibly unique experience. You are forming something that comes directly from your own opinions and voice, with no previously written notions or a script. You form the structure with discussions and exercises that mean little in that moment, but come together when you bring them to the group as a whole. They become organic scenes and topics that have meaning and weighted resonance. They tackle issue after issue with the grace and comedy that can only come from real life.
Our work ends up redefining the audiences' narrative. In order to do that, you have to recognize what your own narrative is. These projects that are made and produced by HAT move toward a recognition that is about celebrating the diversity of that experience.
HAT's past and current projects are refreshingly unique in that they are hoping to provoke more conversation, more writing, more thinking about how we can all do better at embracing everyone who seeks a role in the arts. The more people who are moved and affected by their experience with HAT, the stronger our stories collectively become.
HAT projects are never frozen in time, they grow with the people in their ensemble and their audiences as fellow artists.
HAT's use of social media and technology allows for a democratization of viewpoints. It's not just carrying my voice while in the devising space, it's carrying all of our voices. With online surveys that allow everyone input, anyone who is as passionate as we at HAT has a voice with us. Our use of technology allows us to remain connected and to come to a process of consensus that hasn't always been possible or before utilized.
We never subscribe to "the one and done theory" in our efforts to collaborate with our intersectional communities. We hope to begin conversations and dialogue. We hope it enriches our work and our lives through personal growth, learning, validation and recognition of a life we lead. As difficult as it is to clarify your own experience, HAT gives us the tools and the platform to represent our stories as we choose to portray them.