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Devising Work - formerly The Great Deviser

Media: DVD
DUR: 100+ mins
Product Code: DV
Price: £75.00

An invaluable and inspirational two-disc guide to the process of creating an original piece of drama. Ways of getting started are evaluated and professional practitioners introduce the strategies they use to generate ideas, movement and text.

Disc 1 Filmed with companies from three continents, this disc contains a feature film’s worth of edited interviews, demonstrations, rehearsal footage and performance outcome clips from some of the world’s most creative devisers - Goat Island (US), Forced Entertainment (UK), Ushio Amagatsu/Sankai Juku (Japan).  The practitioners explain the ideas that influence and inform their work, how they start a piece – including research strategies and sourcing “raw ingredients”; games and other ways of generating movement and text and how they refine and structure their material.

Disc 2 provides extensive teaching resources including how to manage the conceptual process.  It contains almost limitless ideas, strategies and materials to help devisors, including: video examples of student work informed by some of the practitioners on disc 1, specially commissioned copyright free “music to devise by”, materials from Goat Island/Forced Entertainment and an introduction to the Great Devisers Great Devising Project – an online collaboration in which students are invited to upload performative and other responses to materials created by leading international practitioners.



Recommended by AQA's Chief Examiner for Drama and Theatre Studies in the AQA Teachers' Resource Bank for Drama and Theatre studies


Endorsed by Edexcel for use with the:


Edexcel GCE Drama and Theatre Studies Unit 1 Exploration of Drama and Theatre

Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Performing Arts (various Units)

Edexcel BTEC Level 4 HNC Diploma and Level 5 HND Diploma in Performing Arts (various Units) 




“I have a sneaking suspicion that more feet will be beating a path to the library in search of these gems than for most of the other drama resources on the reading list put together.” 

Lorna Smith,
Course Leader, Secondary English PGCE, Bath Spa University

As someone relatively new to the PGCE lecturing game, and conscious that the course I took over needed a sharp injection of practical drama sessions to prepare trainees effectively for their school practice (as well as to relieve the bums-numbing monotony of some of the more theoretical aspects of the course), I was looking round for some recent, relevant and racy drama resources for some stimulation. Fortunately, I lit upon these three titles (Devising Work: The Great Deviser, Ensemble Building and Creating Physical Theatre) from the appealingly-named Pumpkin TV, which ticked all those boxes and did more besides.

This is a series of double DVDs that is perhaps most obviously suited to the AQA AS level syllabus (particularly Unit 1: Devised Drama), but I will encourage my trainees to look at them for ideas for work across all secondary age groups too.

‘The Great Deviser’ is typical of the trio in featuring leading international drama groups including Goat Island (US), Forced Entertainment (UK), Ushio Amagatsu/Sankai Juku (Japan). We see the drama groups themselves in rehearsal and performance, but also we see them working with students, thus helping to emphasise that ‘real’ actors approach their work in the same way that students are encouraged to do in school. (That’s the inhibition hurdle down.)

The same DVD goes on to show how the different groups are inspired to get started on a new piece (hurdle two flattened) and continues by exploring how pieces are developed and honed (for example, by adding music or lighting effects). Because the three drama groups each explain their approaches to camera, and we see the effects of their choices in action, it is made clear that there are no single ‘right’ answers (hurdle three…).

In one amusing yet thought-provoking section, Forced Entertainment perform an improvised piece on the development of mankind, set against a serious spoken text on man’s great achievements. The actors are dressed in deliberately comic bearskins, presenting a picture of the rise of humans that is at odds with what is heard. It is all intriguing and inspiring: compulsive viewing.

A further great advantage to the whole package is that the DVDs contain offline and online resources to supplement the main aspects featured. In this way, learning can go on beyond the drama studio: students can go away and explore what has most interested them.

The whole package of DVDs (each as rich as ‘The Great Deviser’) have already been recommended by the chief examiner for Drama and Theatre studies in the AQA’s list of relevant resources and I will certainly be adding them to the menu for my trainees. I have a sneaking suspicion that more feet will be beating a path to the library in search of these gems than for most of the other drama resources on the reading list put together.

Lorna Smith,
Course Leader, Secondary English PGCE, Bath Spa University,
Review in the NATE journal Classroom, September 2008

Suggested exam board specification links


GCE Unit 1

Devised Drama

Unit 4 Devised Drama
GCE Unit 3 Devised Drama

Related Titles

Artaud: Practical approaches to the Theatre of Cruelty



Creating Physical Theatre



 Ensemble Building