How Moment Work Leads to Narrating with the Elements of the Stage

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Lisa Silberman Brenner
Barbara Pitts McAdams


In spring of 2017, X University partnered with the Tectonic Theater Project to devise a play with its theatre capstone class entitled A Metamorphosis, inspired by Kafka’s well-known story of a man transformed into a giant insect. This year-long residency provided a full opportunity for students to implement Tectonic’s Level One and Level Two Moment Work training and experience the final mastery of threading Moments into a fully-produced play (Level Three). X students had the opportunity to deepen their understanding of what Tectonic calls “the elements of the stage,” a non-hierarchal inventory used to structure a narrative and heighten theatricality. This essay focuses on how Tectonic’s technique of narrating with the non-textual elements leads to a richer, more engaging theatrical experience—both for the creators and the audience members of the production. 

The authors content that Moment Work helps devisers create a more engaging, impactful artistic experience than working in a traditional (autocratic and text-centric) theatre praxis. Moreover, Moment Work  helped them build skills valued in the professional theatre, such as collaboration and artistic risk-taking. They advocate that Moment Work reaps these benefits because it is a systematic way of creating theatrical narratives. Moment Work proceeds from experimentation (sketching in the rehearsal room) to a product based on the needs of the show. 

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Author Biographies

Lisa Silberman Brenner, Drew University

Associate Professor, Theatre

Drew University 

Barbara Pitts McAdams, Tectonic Theater

Company Member, 

Tectonic Theater Project