Foraging in the Forest: Student Projects at Drew

By: Nina Campli, Assistant Editor of Student Life and Arts

This week’s Foraging in the Forest takes us back to the Theatre department to talk to Madeleine Blossom (’18).  Some people may know her as the person who sends out emails asking for ushers for the various productions in the Theatre department. However, Blossom is also a Baldwin Honors Scholar who is currently writing her thesis.

Her thesis focuses on how directing Devised Theatre differs from directing traditional theatre. Devised Theatre is created with a group of collaborators as opposed to those involved working in one designated role. Blossom said, “Usually a playwright goes into a room and writes a play and then hands it to a director who goes to another room and directs the play with actors and designers, making choices depending on the script.” She added, “But with Devised Theatre, as we’ve been learning about throughout the NY Semester on Theatre, we do not start with a play but instead a company of theatre artists who focus on the elements of the stage (lights, costumes, props, etc.) and how they tell stories without any written text.”

During winter break six people (five writers and one dramaturg) wrote a piece based on the Tectonic Theatre Project’s  “Moment Work” process, which is the way Tectonic Theatre Project devises a piece. Blossom will be directing the show in March and stated, “My big question is how the director navigates authority between her own directorial vision and the collaborative nature of this piece. We all started as equals, but now I have to step up and into a position of authority and make choices, but how do I go about making decisions that change/alter a show we have all equally worked on to create?”

Blossom chose to do her thesis on this because after the New York semester she became quite interested in Devised Theatre, the Tectonic Theatre Project and “Moment Work.” Having only directed Traditional theatre she “had a million questions of how a director goes about stepping up and into this position, because it is so different than I’ve experienced before… I was excited by the idea of going out of my comfort zone and learning something new.”

For her research, Blossom has looked into directing in general as well as other companies that do Devised Theatre and how they do it. She also compares them with previous notes she has taken as well as her own experience working in Devised Theatre.

After she finishes her time here at Drew she hopes to continue “learning more about devised theatre, and continue to explore directing in general. I’ve learned a great deal in just the short amount of time we’ve been working, and I want to take this knowledge and experience and apply it to future endeavors.”

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