Joan Littlewood on devising

Thursday 22nd December 2016

Joan Littlewood
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One from the archives: “Littlewood recalled that during one rehearsal, actress Ann Beach came to her in tears crying, ‘We’re all lost. We’re getting nowhere. Can’t we just do a straightforward play?’ Littlewood retorted, ‘If we don’t get lost, we’ll never find a new route.’ This episode, small and anecdotal as it is, is a reminder that combining devising with scripting in a collaborative process that relies on material generated by performers but controlled and organized by a single figure such as a writer/director has the potential to be inspiring but also difficult and frustrating, especially if the company in question has not worked in this way before and does not have a shared language for working and a shared understanding of the ultimate goal.” (Sarah Sigal’s Writing in Collaborative Theatre-Making [2016])

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