skip navigation | text only | accessibility | site map
The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

KCACTF Devised Theatre Project

The Prompt

Title: Entrance without papers is forbidden

  • Ensemble will select their sources of inspiration as their creative container (examples: a photograph, a poem, a fictional or non-fictional short story, a memory, interviews, a question, etc.). Ensemble will be asked to clearly articulate how their sources informed process and product, form and content.

  • Each ensemble will create a unique performance vocabulary informed by their source materials. This vocabulary should include movement, voice, visual image, sonic landscape, text and scenic environment and communicate the piece's style and aesthetic.

  • Ensemble should consider time restraints and travel considerations. These parameters are designed to form a creative container to spark your imaginations and deepen your exploration.

  • Logistics/parameters

    Approximately 16'X16' playing space, ensemble determines audience placement & interaction.

    Work lights up/down provided, any additional lighting will be ensemble-generated.

    Regions provide electrical power, ensemble must provide all technical sources (boom box, extension cords, projector, clip lights, etc).

    20 minute time limit which must include set-up, performance and strike.

  • Set up and strike can be part of the performance.

  • Company size – no more than nine members.

    Contributions of the ensemble are to be balanced and evenly distributed.

    Not every member of the ensemble must perform, but the majority should.

    Faculty advisors may provide outside-eye feedback, but students should drive the work.

    No live flame.

    No smoking.

    No functional weapons.

    Additional Information

  • Each showing will be given a short response from regional faculty and/or devising guest artists. Each deviser will be expected to speak articulately about their work, displaying rigor of process and responsibility for form and content.

  • Devising isn't an aesthetic; it's a process. This approach to creating new work includes multiple aesthetics, production value spectrums, and performance styles.

  • Regions will only provide the space; ensembles must bring everything else. Be careful about making assumptions (availability of chairs, acting blocks, etc)

  • Deadline for submission – October 31st (or set by individual region coordinators)

  • To participate, send an email to your regional chair who will connect you to the regional devising coordinator.

  • What is Devising?

    by Rich Brown, PhD. Western Washington University, Region 7 Devising Coordinator

    The following text is intended as descriptive rather than prescriptive information. This page has been assembled to help guide students in programs where no devising training currently exists. Our intention is not to say, "this is how you devise," for each devising ensemble must tackle that question themselves, but hopefully, this will give you a bit of guidance on your journey.

    What is Devising?

    Devising is loosely defined as the process of collaboratively creating a new work without a pre-existing script wherein the collaborators are also the performers. I say loosely because every devising company creates their own method of working based on the subject of investigation and the strengths of the collaborators. Not every company member must perform for it to be a devised piece, but the majority often does. In short, the collaborative creators are also the performers.

    In the standard theatre model, a single playwright writes the text and then a director casts actors and selects designers to interpret that text, resulting in a theatre production. With devised theatre, however, the collective artists begin without a script. They might even decide to liberate themselves by surrendering their traditional, specialized theatrical roles of actors, designers, playwrights, or directors and start as theatre generalists (or cross-trainers) with an idea, a hunch, that takes them into a studio space to investigate collaboratively – to unpack that hunch. A devised piece of theatre can literally start with anything: a painting, a song, a real-life event, a novel to adapt, a KC/ACTF national prompt, etc.

    Again, multiple ways to devise exist. However, a deep study of devising shows that many companies' processes include five key stages: research, creation, development, rehearsal, and performance. It has been my experience that these stages should have roughly the same duration of time, knowing that the borders of each stage will continually be crossed by the devisers as they move through their process.

    Helpful resources to get started

    Rather than including a lengthy biography here, I have chosen to limit this list to a few helpful texts and short Youtube videos.

    Bicat, Tina and Baldwin, Chris. Devised and Collaborative Theatre: A Practical Guide. Ramsbury, Marlborough: The Crowood Press Ltd, 2002.

    Govan, Emma and Nicholson, Helen and Normington, Katie. Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. New York: Routledge, 2007.

    Kerrigan, Sheila. The Performer's Guide to the Collaborative Process. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001.

    Theatre Topics. Volume 15, Number 1, March 2005. Special Issue: Devising ( "The Making of US." Western Washington University's mainstage devised work 2011 – 10 minutes. (

    "The Making of The American Family." A collaboration between Bucknell University, Western Washington University, and Tectonic Theatre Project (NYC) performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011 – 45 minutes. (

    "Benefits of Devising for Students." A brief "why devise" philosophy – 4 minutes. (