Devising Our Show

by Spencer Duncan, dramaturg

And so it began… the biggest week of our rehearsals so far.

Recently, our talented group of actors met from 7 or 8 am-2 pm to rehearse our show. In the evening, they took home assignments to prep them for the next day’s work. Talk about a full day!

What exactly are they doing in rehearsal?

Despite looking confused, actor Haley Flanders DOES know what she’s doing. She communicating in a physical storytelling exercise.

While these photos may make rehearsal look all fun and games (and truly, it is fun), these actors are engaging in carefully designed learning exercises.

Actors Michael Comp (left) and Oksana Poliakova (right).

Because Water Sings Blue is a devised piece, there was not a traditional script. Instead, the cast created the plot collaboratively under the guidance of our director, Teresa Dayley Love. The results were short, audience-interactive vignettes of story revolving around Kate Coombs’ poetry, woven together to tell about a day at the beach and in the sea.

Actor Arianna Krenk (right) and director Teresa Dayley Love (far-right) coach actors Logan Ruesch (left), Michael Comp (center-left), and Danny Brown (center-right). The actors are practicing Aristotelian plot structure using events from Arianna’s summer.

However, such a process takes a lot of imagination and hard work.

Actors Michael Comp (left) and Danny Brown (right).

To prepare, actors had to:

  • memorize their poems
  • come with rich character backgrounds
  • study the marine life they will portray¬†physically
  • understand storytelling techniques and story structure

Then in rehearsal, by engaging in the carefully-designed activities and improvisations, consistent blocking and a poem-based script solidified.

You can learn more about devised work, a increasingly popular form of creating theatre, from these videos by the National Theatre.

From left to right: actors Lauren Wilkins, Sierra Docken, Oksana Poliakova, Haley Flanders, and Logan Ruesch.

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