The Practical Performance Proposal and Devising

While working with my IB class recently we created some original work based on the devising process of Frantic Assembly, and then created pieces in physical theatre, immersive promenade theatre and a fusion of Brechtian and Forum theatre styles. My students were influenced and inspired by many practitioners:

  • Brecht
  • Boal
  • Grotowski
  • Stanislavsky
  • Pina Bausch
  • Anne Bogart

and theatre companies including:

  • Punchdrunk
  • Frantic Assembly
  • DV8

This post will move away from this devising process and give you a few ideas that you may want to use yourself in your own devising or Practical Performance Proposal vision.

Recently I directed ‘Macbeth’ at school and included intermediality aspects with pre recorded film, live film, images, gobos, live and amplified voice (with various effects) and adopted a style of performance that drew on duality in characterisation inspired by Francoise Delsarte.

Below are images to illustrate these aspects in performance so you can see how they could work. If you want to imitate, be inspired or influenced by these ideas, then please do be!

This image shows the duality of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. At this point there is suspended energy, and complete duality and group understanding. The two Macbeths are as one, as are the Lady Macbeth’s, but the use of space reflects how they feel – they cannot reach each other, even though they are close physically or emotionally.

This shows the duality – both outer and inner. One position reflects how they are actually behaving, the other reflects the inner emotions and thoughts. Together they are one complete character.


Lady Macbeths

Here the two Lady Macbeths are reading the letter from Macbeth that tells of the prophesies of the wild women. The use of footlight, back projection of curtains in the breeze and the synchronised movement shows her grace, class, power, beauty and both outer and inner thoughts as during the speech lines are shared – as one speaks, the other shows the remaining 90% of communication, that is not through voice (Stanislavsky).



Battle + glass

This is a battle scene that I inserted at the start of the play to establish the context of war. The battle was choreographed with short movements and blackouts. After each blackout a fresh image came on the screen to reflect harm, danger, restriction and crime. Images included barbed wire, broken glass, wall with razor sharp blades on the top and broken bottles with blood on.


Duncan + street

This scene is when Duncan finds out about Cawdor’s betrayal and that the battle has been won. As this was set in modern days, the battle scene behind is in an ordinary street. The backdrop was moving film of rubbish moving in the wind – a deserted, dirty street, that is clearly in decay.