The DeWitt stage was the location for the first of a workshop series for the launch of faculty member Rich Perez’s new devised project.
The Hope College Theatre Department has a strong commitment to creating new plays and specifically devised work. The department has partnered with Nathan Allen for Rose and the Rime (2007) and with The Hinterlands for Goodbye Beauty, Hello Dust (2015) and recreated The House Theatre of Chicago’s, The Sparrow (2015).
Last spring, students devised The Line Between with Hope Theatre alums Dan Kwiatkowski and Erik Saxvik. The opportunity sparked a flame for students to use their voices and tell their own stories.
Devised theatre is a collaborative process in which the script is developed with the entire company of actors and designers. The method can vary, but in The Line Between, students created the work through workshops, writing prompts, movement exercises, imagery, and structured improve, to create the original play.
This upcoming spring, that flame with spark again. Faculty member Rich Perez will direct the final production of the season, a devised piece completely created by students.
The production hopes to pull influence from the classic Western and martial arts. Perez hopes to take these dominantly male genres and flip them on their heads – creating opportunities to showcase powerful women.
The workshop began with the group of students participants split into three groups – poets, musicians, and dancers. Each group took 20 minutes to come up with a creative presentation in their area with only the word ‘transformation’ as inspiration.
20 minutes later, each group gathered and shared their performances. The musicians had each brought an ordinary object – a fork, a knife, a box of push pins – and together they created a groovy kind of orchestra.
The dancers began spread out across stage and each started slight movements in their own time. Together they clumped in the middle, reaching toward the sky. Continuing their performance, they formed into a single file line and followed each other and repeated the movements of the leader at the front.
The poets stood up and each person read a short five to eight line poem they had wrote. Each one offered a new take on the word ‘transformation’.
Perez couldn’t have been more thrilled about the workshop.
“I felt incredibly inspired by our first devising workshop! Those who participated were courageous, energetic and worked extremely well together,” Perez said. “I was able to gain insights into our actors’ strengths and challenges, which will give them a leg-up in ensuing workshops and the subsequent audition. It is my goal is to make sure everyone is on an equal playing field when they come to audition in November. Hopefully even more people will attend our next workshop, focusing on stage violence.”