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Throw away the book: devising and higher education

Faculty Advisor




devised performance, higher education

Abstract (summary)

In the theatre world, ‘off book’ signifies a deadline in the creative process: the date by which performers are to have memorized their lines and will no longer be allowed to carry their play script – the ‘book’ – on stage. As such, Off Book makes a strangely appropriate title for a book about devised performance in higher education. In its usual context, ‘off book’ captures the tension between ephemeral, live performance and durable, authorized literature: in one sense, the book – the written play – is the essential core, the seed that gives the performance life and meaning. Yet the opposite could be equally true: an ‘on book’ performance would not really be a play at all, and an actor reciting lines out of a script in hand is not really acting. A play is only realized in, or through, a performance. We cannot really learn, or play, our part until we can put the book down and enter the stage without it.

Publication Information

Fitzsimmons Frey, H., Hyland, N., & McKinnon, J. (2024). Throw away the Book: Devising and Higher Education." In H. Fitzsimmons Frey, N. Hyland, & J. McKinnon (Eds.), Off Book: Devised Performance and Higher Education (Ch. 1, pp 10-24). Intellect, UK.



Item Type

Book Chapter



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