Stepping Forward: An Exploration of Devised Theatre’s Democratic Designs in an Actor-Training Setting

In: World Political Theatre and Performance
Evi Stamatiou
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Devised theatre offers an alternative set of practices to those used in standard actor-training. It invites participants to explore different forms of authorship and encourages the emergence of different collaboration dynamics and forms of agency. The assumption is that creative decisions are taken after pitching and voting processes. The prioritising of collective interests over the expression of individual beliefs counters neoliberal logic. However, this becomes particularly complex in actor training: the students cannot opt out from participation when their individual political, religious or moral beliefs are targeted, undermined or ignored by the group. Using methodologies from theatre studies and education, this essay theorises the devised theatre participant as a social and political agent in the light of an analysis of democratic designs in the actor-training space. It illuminates the trainer’s challenge to protect individual rights within devised theatre processes in the context of a neoliberal logic that favours individual and consumer rights over popular sovereignty and voting processes.

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