With script, or without?

The first in a series of acta Foundation seminars, to bring together experienced practitioners, students, academics and people looking to develop a career in the sector, to share & learn. acta Foundation seminars are free to attend.

Friday 25 April, 2014, 1.30 – 4.30pm at acta centre, Bristol

Devising community theatre – with script, or without?

All acta shows are devised by the group, but not all of them are scripted.

When we choose to work ‘without a script’, there is an agreed  pattern of words, scenes, and action that is created and rehearsed so that each performance has the same framework, but not always exactly the same words.

Why do we sometimes choose not to write a script at all?

How do we decide whether to script the whole show, just certain scenes, or use only a scenario?

Do you always need a script when you have a larger cast?

How is the rehearsal period different when a show is not scripted, and does the role of the directors change when there is no script?

How much of yourself goes into the play, both as facilitator of the devising process, and as scriptwriter; is community theatre a process of co-authorship?

The panel for this seminar will include the following experts:-

  • David Slater is Artistic Director of the south London based participatory arts company, Entelechy Arts. He has extensive experience of working with theatre and communities, and has a particular interest in the development of programmes that work with the isolated old, supporting them to connect and contribute to the cultural life of their communities.
  • Jonathan Petherbridge, Creative Director of London Bubble Theatre Company, has been making different sorts of theatre for three decades, some orthodox stuff, shows developed from the work of a writer (Shakespeare, Brecht, Brenton), some inspired by places (parks, cliff tops, vaults), some driven by social purposes (young people, intergenerational projects, theatre for early years). An early practitioner of Promenade he has worked with London Bubble since 1990 to develop a model of an open theatre company that generates great theatre with, and for local people.
  • Neil Beddow, is Artistic Director and co-founder of acta. He specialises in devising, writing and directing original community theatre with the diverse communities of Bristol. His work has ranged from large-scale plays with casts of hundreds, to small-scale community touring shows; working with all ages and across generations.
  • Ingrid Jones, is Associate Director at acta. She has been working for the Company since 1994, focusing mainly on youth theatre, but also devising and directing inter-generational and adult community productions.

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Anything else we need to know

NB acta recognises that globally, people use different words to describe often similar processes in creating theatre. For the purpose of our sharing and learning in the acta Foundation seminar series, acta defines “community theatre” as follows:

•            non-professional participants and professional theatre facilitators working together as artists

•            the creation of original work, based on stories generated from communities

•            theatre created and performed by non-professional community members

•            creating theatre which is relevant, to delight new audiences discovering theatre for first time

For acta Community Theatre principles are centred on the idea that everybody has a story to tell; that individual life-experiences have a relevance to the rest of society. The methodology of identifying and releasing these stories does vary between countries and companies, but in general it involves the interaction between trained professional community theatre practitioners – facilitators, writers, directors – and participants who volunteer their time.

The interaction between Community Theatre practitioners and participants involves a process of discussion, deliberation, and theatre techniques such as role-play, improvisation, play-making, character work, narrative.