Physical Dramaturgy and the Generative Process

​Research supported by the Network of Ensemble Theaters, October 2020

Vagabond Invention has, for years, experienced a common challenge for actor-devised physical theater: the co-visionaries of a project are also performing in it. In order to push a work to its full potential, creator-performers often need the perspective of an "outside eye" coaching the work’s development. Although this relationship can be a challenging negotiation between visions and creative decision-making, Vagabond Inventions has had a rich experience working with Physical Dramaturg Penelope McCourty. Penelope explains that , colloquially, she is really a "Process Doula." She offered feedback and questioning around Requiem for a Stranger, the project Vagabond Inventions is creating with singer/ composer Renee Benson. Our two sessions with Penelope offered a taste of the rich potential of this relationship inside an early generative devising process.

Grief Mapping and Anti-Colonial Ideas of Time

​Research supported by Alternate Roots, September 2020

Vagabond Inventions and Renee Benson began the third creation phase of our project, Requiem for a Stranger, with a workshop facilitated by Alaina Comeaux, the Raconteur who created the Decolonized Walks of Bulbancha. Alaina guided a questioning and searching process about our relationship to the land we live, work, dream, and grieve on. Through readings and discussion (defining the difference between de-colonial and anti-colonial), our ensemble explored how to understand time and grieving through an anti-colonial lens. As part of the workshop, ensemble members created personal "Grief Maps", physicalizing this rich learning process - a process which is ongoing for the company.

The Playwright and Collaboratively Devised Theater

​Research supported by the Network of Ensemble Theaters' Travel & Exchange Network, June 2016

Vagabond Inventions and visiting writer Zina Camblin explored the role of a playwright inside of a collaborative devising process. Physical actor/ director-generated theater often struggles with a weakness in the craft of language and story. However, involving a playwright in the haphazard process of devising a new work can be challenging. There can be a natural and profound difference of process between devised, physical theater creators and writers who often come from a background of working autonomously. The company spent a week exploring this process in June 2016. Zina and the ensemble developed language and story for the company’s show, A Kingdom, A Chasm, when the project was in a crucial late-stage of development. 
Read the results of our exchange here:

Notes on Working with a Writer in Ensemble-Devised Theater

"It’s always nerve-wracking coming into something you don’t know at all with people you don’t know at all. You have, not just the work, but also you have four different personalities that you don’t know how to negotiate yet. You’re tiptoeing a little at first, until you get a sense of people’s energies. But it felt like a safe space to come in and try things. That’s important on my end. It felt like everybody was open."                                                                                      Zina Camblin


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