In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • The Hypocrites
  • Sean Graney (bio)

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Fig. 1.

All Our Tragic. (Photo: Evan Hanover.)

On Self-Definition

I think devised work is a process in which everything is created in the room with the artists involved. It involves a really exciting melding of more traditional theatre positions, every artist [End Page E-7] involved becomes a director, dramaturge, and designer. A problem that can come from devised work is the lack of a playwright. Devised theatre at its pinnacle can transcend story and verbal language, but those performances are rare and I often find myself longing for more recognizable drama. My approach is to attempt to borrow the wonderfully collaborative elements of a devised process and apply it to a prewritten script. I want to create a rehearsal room that is full of creativity, ideas, and optimism, to craft a beautiful physical and visual landscape, but I also want to tell a story about people interacting with one another. I often use the word active, meaning that there is more doing than talking. In rehearsal, the cast and I consider the text at every moment: Can it be thrown out or altered? Nothing is sacred, and ideally everything is inspirational. (See figure 2.)

Impulse Origins

Texts remain the largest impetus for me to be drawn into a creative process. I am very traditional in this regard—actually, I’m very traditional in many regards.

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Fig. 2.

The Pirates of Penzance. (Photo: Evan Hanover.)

Developmental Processes

I start by finding the source material that excites me, then I write a play based on this material. I like this to be a longer process, where I can write and rewrite. During this phase I also get my script in front of a few people to give me feedback. Then I do more and more rewrites. Once I am happy with the first full draft, I try to organize workshops. During this phase I encourage the actors to bring up any issue. Then I will go home and make modifications on every issue mentioned, whether I agree or not. Then I hope to have a public reading, during which I sense where the crowd is engaged, bored, or confused. Then I do several rewrites based on the information gathered. I like to repeat the workshop/reading phase a few times, if possible. Then, if the script is good enough to [End Page E-8] be programmed, we will begin rehearsals. In the rehearsal room, as I mentioned earlier, the script gets modified in order to be more actor friendly. We also add the physical life of the characters. I tend not to be abstract in movement, but drawn to a more unique visual/physical world. I tend to stay away from the abstract. Then we do a lot of edits based on the clarity of storytelling. Most of all, in the rehearsal room, we start thinking about the experience of the audience while trying to remain inspired.

I think any piece of theatre thrives on multidisciplined people being in a room together; if everyone has the ability to act as dramaturge, director, and designer, the process will be all the more rich. I do believe in the formal structure of theatre, that the director needs to be held responsible for the end product. So there needs to be a few times when the director can veto decisions for the sake of time. But the more open and optimistic a rehearsal room is, the better it is for everyone. (See figure 3.)

My Kind of Town

Chicago is a wonderful city that supports so many theatre companies. But Chicago still likes its realism; if you try to be expressive beyond realism, you still need to satisfy certain tenants of realism. When I was younger this frustrated me, but now I just accept it and move on. It has shaped me as an artist for better or worse. I often think: “What will this audience that demands realism think of this moment?”

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Fig. 3.

The Pirates of Penzance. (Photo: Evan Hanover.)

[End Page E-9...


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