One of the fuller, long-term dramatic writing as the creative form that this experiment would take and charged the students with generating a final collaborative product--a few pieces of dramatic writing, which would be staged.
The STEAM Panel collaboration with NJIT reverberated greatly with our students. Because there were several presentations, different students took different approaches in their creative processes and a few plays came from this experience.
One in particular proved enduring and fruitful, the presentation of NJIT professor Simon Garnier and his ideas on swarm theory--in particular how simple organisms achieve complicated ends by self organizing.
From that germinal idea, students and I began to devise a series of rules, prompts and pathways to decentralize the creative process, take away personal investment in story, and crowd source material before a rigorous editorial process begins--what the students called The Swarm Plays process.
The process was whimsical, filled with false starts an invigorating.
In its basic structure the students generated an open source document and established a set of random rules and prompts which allow writers to input, edit or delete material in a random pattern. As this process develops, participants agreed to avoid discussion of plot, theme or concept, thus shutting away social hierarchies and pressures.
The process went on for two months. After that we “harvested” material and began the editorial process.
What we would like to let you experience today is the effect of the beginning process the students used to generate a “seed” document.
Even in a small workshop, participants may experience the liberation of using words as building blocks, unlocking creativity, and generating unexpected material before a more conscious process begins.