DEVISING IN PLACES (collaborative place-based performance workshop)

Praise for Devising in Places: 

“In the spring of 2016, I had the pleasure of hosting Shimshon Obadia at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts. He conducted the ‘Devising in Places’ workshop for my Grade 10 Dramatic Arts students, as well as for our Grade 11 and 12 Drama Production classes. Shimshon was professional and clear in communicating his intentions for the workshop and showed great flexibility in making it fit the needs of my classes and curriculum. He provided a detailed plan beforehand, was responsive to feedback, and adapted to my students’ need easily. The workshop itself was creative, innovative, and highly successful with my students. It challenged them to think about art-making in different ways, and was highly active and exploratory. Shimshon communicated well with students, used his time effectively, and showed humour and generosity in his interactions with students. I would most definitely recommend Shimshon’s work and this workshop for educators interested in challenging their students to create social-justice based art work.”

– Kim Snider, Teacher, Arts Education Consultant, Workshop Facilitator.

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 7.54.17 PM CLICK HERE to buy the Devising in Places workshop eBook to use these lesson plans in your classroom today!

Over the past few years, I’ve been leading an eco-art project with youth called Daylighting the Classroom in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. This collaborative project worked with middle school students using a direct, creative connection to the natural world to foster a sense of planetary stewardship in their communities. Now, building on that work, I’m touring a new collaborative workshop for youth focusing on inhabiting where we are and doing what we can there. This, I propose, is an antidote to the popular bleak visions of a polluted dystopia in the discourse of environmentalism. In my experience as an activist and an artist, these dystopian visions come from fixating on where we’re going, or how we got here, and what we should have done better in the past, or need to do in the future. I believe this kind of thinking can drain hope from the conversation; I believe hope can be found and fostered in the present.

This is why I’ve designed this workshop specifically for high school students. Historically, activism has done an excellent and necessary job of bringing to light what has been done wrong, and challenging how things can be done better in the future. But we are living in a time of great change and what I believe is needed from this generation of activists is to invest in the moments and places we are in right now. This interdisciplinary performance-based workshop will take place in the form of two or three class blocks, or one day in two sessions. Using and developing theatre devising skills, participants will collaboratively create a short devised performance in conversation with the physical place they are in and their social relationships to it. Based in a project-based exploration of BC’s new core competencies, specific skills covered in this workshop will be determined by the group’s interest and may include, but are not limited to: physical theatre, object performance, and live new media.

When I was picking a post-secondary path as my high school career drew to a close, I found myself under tremendous pressure to pick “the right course of action” and as a result ended up becoming very preoccupied with the future. But I was lucky, I had many teachers who were constantly telling me to “stay in the moment,” a tenet of their improv classes. Little did I know at the time, I was of course not the only high school student to ever go through this experience, and this would also not be the last time I’d be questioning the course my life is on. But I always heard their voices in my head reminding me to “stay in the moment,” because of that, throughout my career as an artist, I’ve been able to continually pick the course of action that’s not only right for me, but for my community as well.

This project is funded by the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies.

Photo credit: Jeannette Angel

Photo credit: Jeannette Angel