Devising ‘madness’: Physical dramaturgy in The Ophelia Project and Asylum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Dramaturgy is the design of emotional experience. Dramaturgy has concerned itself with structuring the emotional experience of the audience since its very beginnings. The dramaturgical phase, particularly focusing on writing about women and madness, revealed a disturbing past of confinement, torture, and misdiagnosis. This chapter suggests that traditional dramaturgy and physical dramaturgy go hand-in-hand, with each informing the other in important and potent ways. It focuses on two - The Ophelia Project and Asylum - each developed over a two to three-year period, tracing devising process through five distinct period. It includes a six-month dramaturgical phase; a physical dramaturgy phase/devising jam; a weeklong physical theatre intensive at the beginning of each rehearsal process that combines Lecoq, Rasaboxes, and exercises from Richard Schechner’s performance workshop; the devising/rehearsal phase; and the production phase. The dramatic impulse for Asylum came from a series of twenty photographs a student designer sent to the author of abandoned asylums from around the country.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhysical Dramaturgy
Subtitle of host publicationPerspectives from the Field
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781134827428
ISBN (Print)9781138682870
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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