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THTRFLM 2DP3 Devising Processes

Academic Year: Fall 2015

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Catherine Graham


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 403

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27665

Office Hours: Wednesdays 2:00 - 3:00 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Devising is a method of performance creation that treats performance as a research practice allowing us to understand human interactions through performative experimentation.  The emphasis in this class will be on developing effective participation in devising processes that bring individual experiences together with cultural artifacts to create performances that allow new insights into social and cultural life.  We will work together to come to a better understanding of how performance communicates, to learn key devising processes that can generate new performance texts through collective work, and to reflect on the effectiveness of different creation techniques in different situations.  Skills covered will include:

  •     effective creative collaboration in small groups
  •     identifying resource materials for performance creation and exploring their potential
  •     creating scenarios that lead to greater cultural understanding
  •     interpreting a text in performance using devising methodologies
  •     analyzing the usefulness of different devising methods.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All texts can be accessed by links on Avenue to Learn.  

A deposit of $20 is required to obtain a keycard that allows entry to the Performance Lab for rehearsals outside of regular class hours.  Cards can be obtained from the School of the Arts office, TSH 414, and the deposit will be reimbursed when the keycard is returned.





Method of Assessment:



Quizzes on Avenue:

Four short quizzes on AVENUE will allow you to demonstrate your understanding of key concepts raised in readings and lectures.  These timed quizzes will be available on AVENUE for 2 days and will not be available after the deadline.

Performance Presentations

Each unit will end with a group presentation.  You will be evaluated on how thoroughly you have explored the performances resources available to you, how well you have combined them to create new insights, and on how precise and focused your performance images are.  Students who are absent on the day of performance will receive a grade of 0 unless they present documentation of a medical condition, or the equivalent, that prevented them from coming to the University.

Structured Reflections:

At the end of each unit students will write a reflection about the devising processes they have worked with, the strengths and weaknesses of the performance they have created as a result, the feedback they have received about their contributions from other group members and general feedback from the audience.  Each reflection will be 500-700 words long and should serve to guide your thinking about future devising work.  Detailed information about the requirements for each reflection will be posted on AVENUE and this is where you will submit these assignments.

Because this class is not lecture-based, you will not be able to take notes as you might in other classes.  For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you keep ongoing “creation logs’ that record the resources you discovered, the activities you participated in, both in class and in preparation for performance presentations, the decisions that were made, and a record of what was most striking about each of these activities. Your log should also record any feedback you received about your contributions to the project.  While the log itself will not be marked, it will provide the evidence of your activity that you will need for the Structured Reflections and for making a convincing case about your contributions to the collaborative processes. By the end of term, this combination of logs and creation reports should form a workbook of devising processes that you could use to create other creation projects in the future.

Completing tasks on schedule is an important aspect of creative work. For this reason, late submissions will be assessed a 2% per day penalty, including Saturday and Sunday.  Papers that are more than 7 days late will not be accepted.  Exceptions will only be made for students who present documentation of a medical condition, or the equivalent, that prevented them from completing academic work at the time when the assignment was due.

Effective Participation in Collaborative Processes

The class will work collectively to develop effective devising processes that can generate performance texts.  For this reason, attendance at all classes is compulsory unless a medical condition, or the equivalent, prevents you from coming to the university. Your grade for effective participation in collaborative processes will consider the following:

  • quality of preparation,
  • initiative and engagement in collaborative situations
  • creation of opportunities for others to participate,
  • contribution to focusing group attention
  • openness to alternative viewpoints
  • effective use of feedback
  • ability to negotiate priorities and commitment to follow-through on agreements.

NB:  Students who miss more than 1 class in a module should expect a grade of F for the collaborative processes for that module.

A Discussion Board on Avenue will be used as a Group Log and every student will be expected to answer the question posted there each week in order to capture important insights that arise from group work.

Regular self-assessments and group discussions of collaborative processes will be an important part of the course work.  Group members will be expected to share a self-assessment, including evidence to support their claims, with other members of their group near the end of each module.  You will also comment on the self-assessments of every member of your group. At the end of term you will write an overall self-assessment of your strengths and areas for improvement in collaborative processes. Your grade will be based on your discussion of your own strengths and plans for improvement, as well as on your ability to comment effectively on the work of others.




Reading Quizzes on Avenue:                                                                               10%

  • Sept. 18 (1%) Oct. 2 (3%),  Oct. 30 (3%), Nov. 20(3%)

Performance Presentations                                                                                   25%

  • Oct 5: 5%  Nov. 4: 10%  Nov. 30/Dec 2: 10%

Reflection Papers on Performance Creation Process                                           40%

  • Oct. 9: 10%  Nov.11: 15%  Dec. 8: 15%

Effective Participation in Collaborative Processes                                                25%

  • Weekly posts to Group Log Discussion Board (9*1.66%)
  • Final self-assessment of collaborative skills due Dec. 8(10%)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late Penalties: 

There will be a 2% per day penalty for up to 7 days on late written submissions.  After 7 days, no submission will be accepted.

Missed Presentations:  Students who miss their group presentation will receive a grade of 0 for that assignment.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

After a brief introduction, course work will be divided into three units: RSVP Cycles, Image-Based Performance, and Text-based Devising.  Readings, notes and descriptioms of assignments are all available on Avenue.  Work for each unit will consist of experiential exercises done in class, discussion of readings, followed by individual and collective reflection on the effectiveness of the processes used. The broad theme for all the exercises we will do together this term will be “curiosity and order.”

Other Course Information:


Students must adhere to the Performance Lab Standard Operating Procedures posted on the AVENUE site and inside the lab.  Failure to do so will result in suspension of key privileges for the space.  Students can get a key to the lab from the School of the Arts office (TSH 414) on payment of a deposit. The space may be booked using the online tool on Avenue to rehearse your performances.  Please do not book more space or time than you really need, as students in several classes will be using the lab this term.

NB  All furniture, props etc. must be returned to their storage position before you leave the Lab.


This class will involve movement, so please wear comfortable clothing and footwear in which you can move easily and safely.  Closed-toed shoes with non-slip soles must be worn at all times.  In wet and winter conditions outdoor footwear must be removed and left on the winter mats near the main door. Students must have indoor shoes for working in the space. We will often work on the floor and we need to keep it clean. Working in stocking feet is dangerous and will not be permitted.