Using stimuli to develop ideas

There are a wide range of stimuli to choose from, from which a devised work can be created. These include:

  • pictures
  • poems
  • music
  • articles
  • artefacts
  • paintings

It is important to allow a limited time frame to discuss responses to the starting point or stimulus. Ask:

  • Who are the target audience?
  • What should be said to them?
  • What should be shown to them?
  • How should they feel by the end of the drama?

From the very start of the process, ideas should be tried out practically. For example:

  • create six tableaux immediately - this could lead to other ideas
  • write spontaneously for two minutes in response to the starting point
  • share ideas
  • improvise a two-minute scene without thinking or planning - this could generate new ideas
  • set tasks
  • research the topic - get images, facts, statistics, interviews, etc
  • explore real-life events and use spoken or written stories from people - this may lift practical work to a higher standard.


It is important to work together as a team and commit clearly to that group:

  • turn up on time
  • be positive
  • say yes to ideas
  • respect other opinions
  • take it in turns to lead a warm-up or direct a section of the piece

At the very beginning of the devising, things will not be perfect. Remember the bigger picture and be positive, knowing that details can be fine-tuned later on. Groups that are always evolving and experimenting with their ideas can experience more success with their work.