Devise content – rather than write content

To DEVISE is “to imagine, to compose, to suppose, to guess, to purpose, to mediate, to describe, to depict, to scheme, to contrive…”

Last week, I was getting a client ready to get up in front of a crowd of 1000 or more people to introduce a much beloved celebrity.  It’s a daunting task.

Initially, my client created her script. When we rehearsed it, it was clear that this won’t work.  It was a collection of words that she struggled with to come out of her mouth in the order she created them.

We needed to take a different tack to make it work for her.

In the moment, I tried out a theatre technique called devising.

Devising is improvisational where you explore, compose, create thoughts around the stories, feelings and intention that needs to come across.

From the short devising improvisations, we wrote.

And out of it emerges the dynamic content. Words and messages that she will have the heart for – and so will her audience.

It worked. Why? It came from the heart. It came from the gut. It was out of the head. Words from the head are disconnected from the whole.

We played – yes, played with all the different messages until the ones that felt right from the audience’s point of view rose up like cream to the top. How do we stimulate the reflex to create by devising?

  1. Be open to what will most resonate most with your audience.  Find a context.
  2. Relax to remove tension.
  3. Use your breath and stance – deep and grounded to connect fully.
    1. Note: the word, inspiration is from the Latin root spire which means breath. Inspiration is to “add breath”
  4. Get on your feet. Walk around. Movement stimulates thought – it’s called writing on your feet.
  5. Play with it until the right amount of the right insight comes to the surface.

For more information about theatre devising: One renowned theatre company, Theatre Complicite’ uses devising for all of their productions.

Here is a link to their teachers packet for more information:


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