The Riverstory, a devised theatrical piece, was developed by Kristin Linklater and Paula Langton. Devised theatre is a method of creating theatrical pieces using improvisation and ensemble work. An ensemble of actors draws from their own experiences to create a script, share their work with one another for feedback, and then revise their pieces to create a cohesive story. The Riverstory is a way for theatre artists to explore the various human experiences that have the potential to form creative blocks that inhibit the natural voice. Actors are asked to imagine that their life is a river that flows from one side of the stage to the other. Along this river are six stepping stones, each stone representing a significant moment of their life. Actors create a performance in six beats, connecting each beat using improvised movement and sound. The following criteria are used to create the piece:
- Birth: Tell the audience how you feel about your own birth in a short phrase or share a significant detail about your birth. This beat should begin with your full name, birth date, and the place in which you are born
- Dialogue: Consider a significant conversation you have had and retell it in six lines of dialogue. You will play both parts. If you did not get to say everything that you wanted to, you can conclude the dialogue by adding what you wish you had said or what you felt at the time of the conversation. Give the piece a title and tell the audience how old you were at the time of the conversation.
- Monologue: Consider a significant moment in your life and relive it in the present. This is done in the form of the monologue. Give this piece a title and tell the audience how old you were at the time.
- Song: Perform a song (or a verse of a song) that holds significant meaning for you. Give this piece a title and tell the audience how old you were at the time.
- Six Words: Consider a significant moment or memory and summarize it in a list or phrase of six words. Give this piece a title and tell the audience how old you were at the time.
- Present: Write a three to five-line poem to your voice. For example, this poem can be about how you feel about your voice currently or how you wish you felt about your voice. Create a title for this section and tell the audience your current age.
- The six beat performance ends with the following sentence: “Here I am in this room, with all of you, and I feel...” Complete the sentence with whatever you are feeling in the moment.
For the purposes of this unit, I am using The Riverstory as a form for my students to explore their relationships with the digital world. In the lessons that follow, I describe how some of the pieces of The Riverstory will come together to tell this story.