by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg
One of the most well known theatrical companies to use the devising method is the Tectonic Theater Project headed by Moisés Kaufman. Some of their most well known works include 33 Variations, Gross Indecency, and The Laramie Project. In each of these cases, the company implements the technique of horizontal theater.
The traditional setup of theater is vertical. You begin with a text. Then you add set, costumes, lights, a director’s concept, and actors. You build upwards always referencing the foundation (i.e. the text) off of which every decision is based.
Horizontal theater on the other hand treats every aspect of theater as equally important. Instead of building one on top of the other they come to fruition at the same time, with theater practitioners working together and influencing one another. Kaufman refers to these theater makers as “performance writers,” as they are all trying to create the performance as opposed to being assigned to specific roles like actor, writer, costumer, designer, or dramaturg. We all work together to write the performance.
Through out the process we are constantly keeping the end in mind. Our moments are not just words on the page but mini-performances that attempt to convey our message not just textually, but performatively.
In the upcoming week, we will be choosing the moments that we love the most and piecing them together (ordering them into a cohesive play) to write our performance.
Stay tuned to hear more about our process from our other performance writers!