Devising Theatre and Performance (Book)

Curious Methods

This book makes a major contribution to the fields of theatre and performance studies, devised performance practice, and practice-based research. The authors provide a treasure-trove of performance exercises that will be invaluable to performance-makers, educators and students as they develop their creative practice. 10 half-tones.


Leslie Hill is a Professor of Theatre and Performance Making at the University of Roehampton London and Artistic Director of Curious. She is interested in the intersections of theatre and Live Art with politics, activism and social justice movements. She is author of several books, including Sex, Suffrage and the Stage: First Wave Feminism in British Theatre which was published for the UK suffrage centenary in 2018 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Helen Paris is an award winning artist and Artistic Director of Curious, a London-based performance company that has shown work in 17 countries. Paris is currently Artist in Residence at Canterbury Christ Church University. Paris has published widely, specializing in somatic and immersive work and interdisciplinary research through her collaborations with the biological and ecological sciences. Her debut novel, Lost Property, is published by Penguin Doubleday.

Curious ( has produced over 50 innovative works for theatres and festivals including the London Cultural Olympiad, the Edinburgh Festival, Centre Pompidou and Sydney Opera House. Frequently edgy, often humorous and always authentic, Curious plough a furrow between theatre, live art, installation and research. Curious combine rigorous dramaturgy and community outreach with performance-making to create impactful work that has been called ‘as smart as it is seductive’ (Irish Times). Curious deliver an international programme of workshops and mentoring alongside award winning publications and research. Curious are produced by Artsadmin.

List of Illustrations


1.         Curious Methods

2.         Pep Talk

Daily Practice

Outfoxing the Censor


A Time and a Place
Failing Better

3.         Working from the Body

Arrivals and Departures
Begin Again


Body Map

Body Memory

The Sense of Smell


Olfactory Portraits

Fight Flight Freeze

Gut Feelings

Secret Duets

Inheritance Tracks

Family Traits and Mannerisms


Walk This Way

Building a Persona

4.         Working with Objects

Tactile Memory

Exquisite and Mundane

Inherited Objects

Box Stories

‘The Lovers’


5.         Working with Site

Give and Take

Ghost Library

Ghost Duets

In Search of a Gesture

You Are Here
Map Making, Three Ways

Blurring Time and Place

Things ain’t what they used to be

Best Foot Forward

Marks and Scars

Dancing Place and Space

Private, Keep Out!

Taking Up Residence

Infinitesimal Detail

Fifteen Quick Freewrites on Place

Autotopographically Speaking

Silent Stroll

Closing Thoughts

6.         Working with Pairings

Failure & Text

Desire & Proximity
Ritual & Object

7.         Activism


Impulse Manifesto

Make Manifest

Lending and Borrowing


Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

On Location

Stand Up, Speak Out

Living Newspaper

Ripped from the Headlines


Choose Your Battles

Verbatim Theatre

Explosive Material – a Journalistic Exercise

Explosive Compounds – an Ethnographic Exercise

One-Minute Plays

Mix Tape

Produce, Adapt or Devise?

A Moment in History

Cross That Line

Closed Border

Open Border

Tactical Toolkit

Make a Spectacle


8.         Production Workbook

Operating Instructions

Kick-Starting Process

Realm of Concern

I’ve always wanted to be able to …
Feathering the Nest

Look Book


Space and Composition

Dream Island

Fleshing It Out

Dancing the Dynamics


Index Card Storyboard

Dear Dead Darlings

Remember the Audience

Dear Audience


Three Adjectives

Performance Response

Brief Hauntings

Companion Piece

Invited Guests




Pen Pal

Favourite Performance You Never Saw

9.         A Practice-Based Research Workbook

Performing Knowledges

Back Stage

Escape Velocity

Glorious Manifestations

Generative Research

Mapping Your Practice

Diagrammatic Praxis

Secret Fear

Abstractions on Secret Fears

Defining Your Dramaturgy

Signatures of Practice


Love Letter

Artist-Scholar Family Album



Doing a Phenomenology

Phenomenological Journal


Project Descriptions in 1st and 3rd

Specialist Knowledge

Autoethnographic Journal

Keeping a Lab Notebook

Designing Bespoke PBR Exercises – Two Case Studies

Gut Feelings


Sowing from Seed

PBR Evaluation and Critique

Bespoke Evaluation Rubric

Amalgamated Evaluation Rubric

Bibliography and Further Reading


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