New England-based Davis Robinson has condensed over thirty years’ of knowledge and expertise into this thorough examination of ensemble theatre, to lead the reader through the process of making collaborative performance. The book explores the whole process from warm-ups and generating ideas to editing and polishing a performance.
The theory is supplemented by practical exercises including examples from the rehearsal room of Robinson’s own company, Beau Jest, as well as from the processes of notable international companies and practitioners. There are references to dozens of companies and productions throughout.
The book begins by looking at the origins and definitions of ensemble theatre before moving on to the practical work, including the fundamentals of rhythm and movement. It examines short prompts to inspire and stimulate the company, such as lists of actions, paintings, props and choreographic structures. Large prompts which can be used as springboards for devised work include inspiration from novels, stories, epic tales and mash-ups.
A chapter on organisational structures looks at working methods and models for students and professionals as well as the thorny issue of leadership in an ensemble setting. A section on the practical considerations of developing and framing full-length works provides a detailed approach with many practical examples to guide ensembles through potential pitfalls and the polishing of the final work.
If you are serious about devising ensemble-based physical theatre as a student or practitioner, then this well-informed book will provide valuable guidance and inspiration to steer you through the process.