collective creation

Definition

Theater

  • A method of creating new plays through the collaboration ofactors and other company members with a dramatist. Some collectivegroups have a director who makes final decisions, but the full company'sideas are considered throughout the play's development and staging.British companies based on collective creation have included the PeopleShow (founded in 1966), Pip Simmons Theatre Group (1968), and WelfareState International (1968).

    Collective creation was probably practised to some degreeby the 16th-century commedia dell'arte troupes and Elizabethancompanies. The modern movement was pioneered by New York's LivingTheatre, formed in 1947 by Julian Beck and Judith Malina. Thereaction against commercial and bureaucratic methods of productiongathered pace during the 1960s, when small alternative theater groupsproliferated. Improvisation became fashionable and collective creationwas an apt way of catering for it.

    Experimentation on stage was a strong point with such groupsas the Performance Group in New York (1967) and the Mabou Mimes inNova Scotia, Canada (1970). Other companies had explicit politicalaims, such as El Teatro Campesino (1965), which supported Chicanomigrant farm workers (see Chicano theater), and theFree Southern Theatre (1963) of New Orleans, which advocated Blackcivil rights. In the 1970s and 1980s collective creation became thenorm for Feminist Theatre companies such as At the Foot of the Mountainin Minneapolis and the Women's Experimental Theatre in New York.

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