This essay considers the opportunities and limitations of Contemporary Commedia as an antiracist / anti-oppressive form of theatre and the role of a director-as-facilitator in relationship to Lecoq’s actor-creator through reflection on a practice-as-research project: devising an “Antiracist Commedia for Zoom” with undergraduate students at an American university. Blending The Ume Group’s Devising Methodology, Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, Theatrical Intimacy Education Best Practices, aspects of Black Acting Methods/Hip Hop Theatre and Nicole Brewer’s Antiracist Theatre principles, one can see a variety of paths for consent-forward, harm preventative approaches to devising and improvising in the traditionally free-wheeling territories of improvised comedy and satire. While challenging to assess dramaturgically, improvised or partially-improvised forms like commedia which emphasize the autonomy and agency of the actor may actually help to create space for much-needed focus on mental health, harm prevention, and the explication of antiracist or other philosophical statements of belief around which a devised theatrical project can revolve and an ensemble can cohere. Consent-forward approaches, improvisation, and an expanded role for the actor-creator may demand a shift in the role of the director from auteur to facilitator, for which shift change theories such as Emergent Strategy may be well suited to support.
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