Monday, 7 February 2011


1. Wildflowers real and metaphorical Pioneers?
2. How can you be a parent of young children and a theatre maker?
3. Branding: Help Me!
4. Where the hell do we begin? The Graduate Dream
5. How to get in the industry as a foreign actor
6. How do we keep theatres and arts centres in Darlington and Barnet open…
7. Dr Theatre: Theatre Arts and the Healing Arts: Possibilities and Stuff to Discuss
8. Singing off key: the beauty of failure
9. Who Will Study the Arts at School now that the English Baccalreureate is success?
10. Motley Theatre Design Course is closing down: what are we going to do about it?
11. Big Plays. Big Casts. Where have they gone?
12. Practical composition
13. How can we make the process of tour-booking better for artists and companies?
14. I’m a producer. Do you have something you want me to produce?
15. International Crisis/ The Whitest Room
16. Making work that’s a bit taboo, a little bit naughty
17. I have a big idea but I don’t feel “big” enough to make it happen…
18. Training directors. Is it possible?
19. How can theatres support artists without dictating to them?
20. How Screwed Are We? Please Can Someone Come And Explain The Funding Cuts?
21. We all have resources – how can we share them? A Resource Sharing Network
22. Surfing or Opera?
23. Theatre and fashion : what can we learn from each other?
24. Can we still find new ways to communicate on stage.
25. Spaces + Places + Funding in The East Midlands and the North
26. How do I overcome the patriarchal blocks to my development/nurture/journey as an artist
27. Performing instructions
28. DEATH …Playing dying… How! Please help. What does death/facing your own death means to you?
29. Remaking and restaging. How to make it as big an adventure the second time around?
30. How Are You?
31. Cut the Arts, Save The Day Centre. How do you defend yourself against this argument?
32. Ok, Lets rant, really rant, rant til we’re blue in the face, red in the gills ‘cos that’s where our creativity o’erspills
33. How can I have an ensemble and make it work over a long period?
34. Crowd funding is here. Resistance is futile.
35. Does Theatre Need Age Badges?
36. Theatre and Games
37. Can Telly help, or would it balls things up even more?
38. What is theatre going to do about closing libraries?
39. Ritual in Theatre: Can Theatre Learn anything from Religion?
40. Such Tweet Sorrow - how can we stop it from ever happening again? (Or, what can we learn from it)
41. Theatre and Astrology
42. A Theatre with Glass Walls: How can we let the world in?
43. Who is going to cut the umbilical cord?
44. “I am young, theatre is not cool enough to go to.” How can we inspire young people to see theatre as cool?
45.Form Filling: have you had enough?
46. We really are all fucked or the death of thinking
47. How do we best nurture and encourage the next generation(s)* of playwrights?
48. What do I do with this theatre company I have lying about from September to July? (What options do new theatre companies have outside of the Fringe?),
49. Site-Specific theatre and theatre in non-standard spaces – Practicalities
50. Artist and organizer over 60- how does it work
51. Is blocking the equivalent of match-fixing? Do we root it out? How?
52. ‘How do you solve a problem like Peterborough’? Ode to Peterborough: Not in the South, not in the North, Not in the East, not in the West. Not in the fucking Midlands
53. How do small organisations get big organisations to play with them?
54. Lullaby for our Dark Time
55. Touring to Bosnia and the Balkans
56. Is there anyone else here from Cardiff?
57. IT’S NOT ALL CHEESE Why do people look down on musical theatre?
58. What does Punk Theatre look like now?
59. How do we reclaim a space in society for art for its own sake?
60. Is it fair to ask people to work for free?
61. Hackney Empire – not just for pantos?
62. Marrying an artist: HOW DO YOU SURVIVE?
63. How can we support the next generation of theatre makers?
64. What is your elephant in the room? & “We’re not talking about what really matters.” Well, come on then.
65. Are correspondence courses that promise to help you become a successful writer any good or are they a waste of time?
66. Theatre and Outer Space
67. Theatre in the public sphere: are we making a good account and could we do more?
68. Calling all the Dreamers
69. The Burning Man Festival: Immersive Theatre for 50,000 people?
70. Audience as Agent - What can theatre learn from video games?
71. I have the projects – as a young producer, how do I make them happen?
72. ‘Our ideas are in everyone’s heads’: performance and destroying capitalism
73. Do you miss your pet? Living or alive? Would you like to talk to me about it?
74. I’m often working alone – what about peer review or peer mentoring?
75. My friend Sally is really fit and brilliant. She would like a boyfriend.
76. Archives and Archivists: Dust and Paper
77. Does theatre have a role in climate change awareness?
78. Science and Art
79. Change: react or create? What do we want to make?
80. Theatre, therapies and religion: can there be a dialogue (If so, how and where?)
81. The kids are alright – Don’t dismiss youth theatre as bad theatre
82. What can we sell apart from tickets?
83. How best to integrate and delineate the roles of writer and director
84. Isn’t the time ripe for Good comedy?
85. Theatre companies can sometimes feel as though they exist in a vacuum, how can we encourage them to work with one another to challenge/build upon their practice?
86. Plan B: You have just lost your funding. What next?
87. How creative can access get in theatre?
88. Artist led performance platforms: What can they be?
89. Tea and Tax returns
90. Can you help me make a movement choir?
91. How can theatre make the world a better place?
92. D&D National Roadshow 2012 and WOSonOS (World Open Space on Open Space)
93. Not just talking about a revolution: showing solidarity with Egypt and Tunisia and artistic responses
94. DO IT WITH STRANGERS! (or, I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers)
95. I want to get on the international touring circuit. Help!
96. If I find spectacle dull, have I worked in theatre too long?
97. We are a venue! We would like to help support and develop artists. What is it that artists want/need?
98. Deaf theatre – integration and moving forward in the artistic sector
99. How can theatre as a place be more real than the lives we find ourselves living?
100.How to survive success
101. (we accidentally didn’t assign this number!)
102. What can we do with Forum Theatre?
103. Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
104. Sit Com
105. Brainstorm – What does an un-capitalist mode of performance look like?
106. Actors and writers collaborating live; anyone interested in helping me make it happen?
107. Making theatre happen in gig/club environments – any ideas?
108. NON STUDENTS ACTORS UNITE! – How can a drama school reject find work as a performer?
109. Theatre for Development
111. In the dark times, will there be laughing?
112. HOORAY!
113. Continued actor training
114. The great song exchange
115. The Hollywood Fringe
116. Developing New Work
117. Group Interaction, Connection, Presence. What can we perceive of each other, what can we express of ourselves?
118. "SIGNING IN THE DARK TIMES" - can anyone teach me some sign language?
119. Arts Journalism in 2011
120. Artist Resource Network
121. Teach me about the people on the D&D Map.
122. Encouraging Philanthropy or schmoozing the rich
123. What are we going to do to bring thinking back to life">


120. My theatre company is a car, can anyone else drive it?
121. What has happened to notions of gender equality? Is feminisim a dead duck? Is this ok or not?
122. Meditation as preparation – what do you do?
123. How do we make theatre cross borders of language and country?
124. Hollywood is in its second year this June, what can they do to bring/attract international theatre companies?
125. Just in case: absolute last minute panic attack!
126. How to develop a culture of continuing actor training?
127. Anyone know a production manager who’s free this week?
128. Stretching / yoga
129. How do we find and nurture devoted audiences outside of that big London?
130. Write a play, squat a building, create a pop-up theatre: how direct action can create platforms for new work.
131. Optimism?
132. What keeps you awake at night?
133. 1 minute manifesto: fancy it? 1-2-1’s running through the day. Group sharing of manifestos at lunchtime. Find me!
134. I’ve got some lines to learn this weekend – anyone else need to learn some too? Maybe we can help each other.
135. Engaging audiences: imagination and play
136. Enchanting the suits: if only 20% of FTSE100 companies sponsor the arts – how to excite the 80%
138. In the dark times, will there be laughing? Taking the comic seriously (the ‘comic’ as opposed to the ‘tragic’ and why they shouldn’t be opposed)
139. How do I set up D&D in The Netherlands?
140. Gender or something or other. Just not about Sky Sports commentators.
141. Group interaction, connection, presence. What we perceive of each other, what can we express of ourselves?
142. Does anyone want to learn/share some songs?
143. The craft of the actor how can we support each others to work on this?
144. I’m currently finding Canadian tax laws taxing: can you help?
145. Fight 2.0. Come and have a fight!
146. Our friends in the North. Tracing the diaspora – are you connected to the north? If so, did you leave? Why? Why not? Would you like just a little bit of a connection?
147. Dancing in the dark: anyone want to focus on dance in 2010/11?
148. Let’s get together and act!
149. How can I use the arts to emigrate and keep working in the arts?
150. Afternoon tea and biscuits with the gays
151. A song for the dark times
152. What does it mean for an artist to have a career? And does such a thing exist?
153. Help me to make some nice signs for Open Space in a school on Monday
154. Politics: how theatre supports the systems that are failing us and (the unmentionable) class
155. Why should classical music be ‘relaxing’? Let’s tickle the ears and inflame the passions.
156. Is theatre a place which can be more real and more accountable than the lives we find ourselves living?
157. How do we nurture and encourages the next generation(s) of playwrights?!


Called on Monday

- March 26th: how might we contribute?

- Marking change- as things are cut/morph is there a need to theatricalise/ritualise this?

- Mindfulness- being in the moment

- Making my big idea

- Is it fair to as people to work for free? Part 2

- A graduate open space (but not “open space” in the D&D sense)

- Developing new work

- Connecting artists and organisations who work locally and quietly

- Affectively

- What resources are there for working more in Europe (and further afield)

- Can you teach me (briefly) what the people on the map did?


Issue: Encouraging Philanthropy or Schmoozin' the Rich

Convener(s): Olga Petrakova

Participants: Josh Neicho, Antonio Ferrara, Clara Giraud, Tanja Raaste, Ed Bartram, Lisa Turner, Sue Frumin, Jean Paul Dal Monte

The meeting was suggested during a previous session held by Daniel Goldman: "Big Plays. Big Casts. Where have they gone?", when I raised a question if/how it is possible to attract an Impresario to support an artistic endeavor of larger casts.

This was one of the harder meetings to have as it seemed that we all had limited experience in communications with the privileged class or in finding ways to attract them, excite them with our projects or gain their support. This is due to the sheer fact that we generally don't have a direct access to them, being artists.There is an art to this type of communication, if we happen to be talking to the wealthy dude/ettes. When putting this report together, I came across a good article by Michael Owen Hill (St. Paul, Minnesota), called Stroking the Ego: Fine Art of Schmooze and lucky for us, it actually does highlight a number of issues that we raised. I will contribute some of Michael's thoughts to this documented exploration at the bottom of the page.

Some questions that were raised were:

*What would the title of the wealthy supporter be? Benefactor, Philanthropist, Impresario.
*We decided to distinguish between investing vs. donation. Investing would need a whole other meeting and it has a number of legal issues to consider.
*In the UK, unlike US, charitable donations are not tax-deductible. Something that hopefully will change, as that is a perk for the wealthy to support the projects they are attracted to, and it seems to work well in America. On the other hand, it does release government from providing a sustaining support for the arts, so that is the other side of the coin to keep in mind.
*How can we attract a wealthy person to become a Benefactor?
One suggestion was to look for those who want to be knighted.
If we are touring internationally, we can look for our countrymen conducting businesses in the foreign territories to encourage them to support projects from their homeland.
Entice them to become theatre visionaries. Use examples of people they might already know, who are visionaries in other fields: music, dance, art, etc.
* How do we come across wealthy people in our daily artistic lives, when we are immersed in rehearsals and such? Put ourselves out there more.
Offer private theatre services for their parties, events: dance shows, commedia dell'arte events, theatre with music. Become entertaining provocateurs, subverters of the expected, daily, banal, overly social. Learn from the past, when jesters were part of the court.
Create Imaginative Fundraising Events, that are unusual and attractive on their own accord. Part of them can be special silent auctions.
Hire PR person, as this is part of their job. They are professional schmoozers. Or learn how to do your own PR ( by yourself or with your company's members.
Pursue government agencies concerned with real estate development to request from developers support for local theatre - to provide space for us to create in. Rent is the highest fixed expense for any theatre company.

*Image is something wealthy people/organization are generally concerned with.
Banks are an example. While having a poor reputation they are recovering fast. Supporting a larger project or a festival may offer bank an opportunity to clean their image.
Wealthy people, who are pursuing government positions may be interested in supporting non-profit arts projects to boost their image.

*When we finally meet with wealthy folks, how do we interact with them?
We may want to share with them what it is we are doing, not who we are....
Be ourselves. We are interesting, weird people.
We should have wacky cool stories to share.
Have confidence/Intelligence/sincerity to share, do not be needy.

Supplement from some research Olya' did:

Mark Owen Hill (
"The one trait all successful schmoozers share is an ability to manufacture genuine curiosity. I’m not talking about mindless “rah rah” or groupieism, but genuine curiosity on a peer-to-peer level...
This leads me to point number one: Suckups tell you how great you are. Schmoozers show interest in you, your ideas and opinions. Suckups speak well about you. Schmoozers listen to you, and listen well. You get the point."
"Gratitude is another powerful tool of the successful schmoozer, but it can be a two-edged sword. Too much gratitude or thanks that are misplaced can quickly signal to the sophisticated person that there is serious suckupery at play. Make sure you thank people for things that are deserving of thanks. If you spend some time thinking about the other person — instead of focusing on the ego-stroking tactics you might employ to get what you want — obvious opportunities for honest gratitude will present themselves."
"Authenticity is key, but here is a little trick I learned from my years in... fundraising for arts and animal welfare nonprofits: In any written communication longer than a quick e-mail to a colleague — and certainly any communication to clients, potential employers or anyone whom it is your job to serve — begin and end with a thank you. Make the first thank you very specific, and follow it with a statement that shows you are actually thinking about the reader."
"Schmoozing is not about fooling people or finding the right “line.” Schmoozing is about creating a social or emotional space in which the other person can honestly feel good about themselves, and by reflection, you."

A few Key Points from Guy Kawasaki. They actually reflect some of what we arrived on our own. Read the blog to get the full take on each Key Point. (Guy Kawasaki's "How to change the world" Blog/The Art of Schmoozing,

Understand the goal. Darcy Rezac “Discover what you can do for someone else.”
Get out.
Ask good questions, then shut up.
Unveil your passions.
Read voraciously.
Follow up.
Make it easy to get in touch.
Give favors.
Ask for the return of favors.


Issue: What are we going to do to bring thinking back to life?
(Session on Monday morning following up from Saturday and Sunday sessions on ‘The death of thinking’)

Participants: Shonagh, Lee, Alan, Adam, Jen, Kate, Jamie, Annie, Rebecca

- Write to your MP… or become one?
- Make work which is smarter, funnier, more meaningful, better
- Think and feel dispassionately
- Be vigilant and know your values
- Hold dissent
- Encourages our advocates to speak for us
- Talk about immigration (and other thorny issues)
- Be honest when asked to talk (e.g. about the advantages you’ve had)
- Work out where you are on a spectrum of opinion about a topic
- Bring different ways of thinking into our world and take ours out to the wider world
- Go on marches
- Give people time off to go on marches (from work / rehearsals)
- Put 26 March demo in diaries
- Don’t assume shared politics – but have conversations where it’s ok to disagree
- Understand the process of how thinking has been killed – be in the roles of people who have killed thinking
- Be honest with yourself – about your beliefs and work and who it is for
- Use our theatre skills to help people articulate / voice their opinions
- Improvise other people’s POV
- Feel as well as think
- Let thinking be messy
- Don’t cut education budgets in the arts first
- Read Arnold Mindell ‘World Work’ and find out about Cooking Chaos
- Be braver – and worry less about being right
- Learn in life – ask better questions
- Formulate an ideological point of view – read, talk, and think
- Help as well as oppose
- Do battle but with awareness
- Create platforms for speech / thought = and prepare well if you are speaking yourself
- As each other questions
- Put ourselves in positions where we’re not experts
- Change your attitude to what’s happening
- Be on the look out for unspoken-anti-thinking-ism
- Think harder


Issue Teach me about the people on the D and D map

Convener Thomas Eccleshar

Kieran Hurley Fiona Drummond
Lindsey Hope Pearlman Daniel Bye
Gemma Brookis Tashan Pandey
Tom Hughes Dan Copeland
Julia Taudevin Phelim Mcdermot
Oly Petrakova Caroline Pearce
Ed Jaspers Lewis Barfoot
Caroline Horton Elles Kerchovey
Jennifer Tam
Lucy Foster

The purpose of this session was to try to learn who the names on the D and D map were and why they were significant. Phelim revealed that the connection between all of them was that they were teachers (of theatre practice) and, as we went through (almost) all of them we tried to trace a heritage or lineage that might reveal something about where we are now or where we’re going.

We all learned a lot.

It was suggested, and I would love to try (but it might be better suited to one of the ‘teachers’, that the Tate modern’s ‘map’ of 20th century artists both in time but also in space is a very useful conceptual way of figuring this lineage and wouldn’t it be good to have one of the people below.

The purpose was also to be brief so, in that interest, I have tried to keep the biogs / definitions short. I have also tried to write them in the order we discussed them as this was often informed by links/similarities.

The descriptions are key words, places, book titles and things they said / stood for.

Book titles are underlined.

Jaques Lecoq.
1960s → / Paris. / Work that concerns the body in space / a practice based on the purity of movement from his background as a sports teacher / The Poetic Body / “Everything moves” / Complicite, Mummenschantz, Clod Ensemble.

Philippe Gaulier
1970s→ / Paris, London / Pleasure, playfulness, games / “You are not funny” / Clown, bouffon, melodrama / catholic / Spymonkey, Sasha Baron Cohen, Peepolykus.

1990s → / London / LISPA / Lecoq disciple but adds elements of psychology, zen, meditative, mindfulness / A negotiation between Grotowski and Lecoq.

John Wright
1980s / UK, Paris / Clown, bouffon / Moved to England because ‘he got cash’ / Like Gaulier but ‘more english’ / Improvisation / Codifying comedy, the science of laughter / Games as opposed to play / Pushed clown towards the pathetic, the tragic / Told by an Idiot, Trestle.

Keith Johnstone
1970s, 80s / UK / Impro / Impro towards narrative, storytelling (as opposed to Gaulier who was towards the relationship w an audience → often people who don’t connect w Gaulier are more comfortable/successful w Johnstone) / Ran the writer’s room at the royal court in the 70s → Barker, Brenton, Bond / Gaulier and Lecoq say ‘No’, Johnstone says ‘yes’ / Failure is an active part of the process / Lifegame (anecdote from Phelim about a woman recounting a story in Lifegame about her mother’s heart attack and it being the first time Phelim realised impro could create wonderful, memorable scenes, and not just comedy, moments).

Viola Spolin
1950s / USA / Pioneer of early ‘impro’ in the US. / Worked w street kids and developed, through this work, improvisation techniques / if Johnstone’s impro is about narrative, Spolin’s is about space / ‘Single focus’ allowing for instinct and intuition (eg. Coming onstage focusing on your feet allows you to instinctively use the rest of your body) / Improvisation for the Theatre / Games, play / ‘anyone can be an actor’ /

Anne Bogart
1990s onwards / NYC / Serious badass with a sensitive, vulnerable side (!) / Founder of Siti company / Works with ‘Viewpoints’, a system of codifying patterns in space and time to describe things and thus to be used in training or as a starting point for creation / not dissimilar from Laban / The performer of this has a 180 degree field of vision (unlike, say, a Gaulier performer who focuses on the audience) / an awareness tool / The director prepares

Tadashi Suzuki
Japan / Comes from a Japanese tradition of Noh and Kabuki / voice centering (in the diaphragm, not the chest or head) / THIGHS.

Yoshi Oida
Japan, Paris / Part of Peter Brook’s company / Noh training / the Japanese tradition of clear pictures, clean, clear language / Jo-Ha-Kyu / The Invisible Actor.

Konstantin Stanislavski
1890s-1920s / Russia / Came out of a period where declamation was king, his practice was a reaction to this, a search for authenticity, truth to life and a rejection of self-consciousness / He evolved from a place where actors worked as individuals to ensemble work / His system(s) has been misappropriated by Stella Adler and The Method in the US and is unfairly maligned as a result → in need of reconsideration!

Michael Chekhov
1940s / Russia, USA / Stanislavski’s student / ‘the psychological gesture’ → the idea of creating a whole body physicalistation of a character or a play / ‘Atmospheres’ as tangible, physical things, ‘there’s an atmosphere of love in the room, what does it feel like to move my hand through it?’ / He himself was a star performer (an amazing clown) and ended up in Hollywood teaching Marilyn Monrow, Yul Brynner etc. (you can see him as the Russian in Spellbound) / Phelim’s hero / To the Actor / the Charles Morovitz Biography / Spiritual / Jungian

Jeremy Whelan
Instant Acting / working w. text: the actors record the text then, while listening to it, move in the space. This is repeated but with completely different movement. After the fourth repetition, the actors try to speak it without the sound (and almost always manage with amazing success) / alternative to ‘dubbing’ exercise / the effect is almost like improvising a text / On the first day you should do the whole play(!) / Bypasses the intellectualising of the parts, lines / Dictionary of Emotions.

Joan Littlewood
1960s / UK / Radical / Socialist / Impro / ‘Oh what a lovely war’ / Devising / Working class / that theatre should be like boxing, should be a struggle / wanted to form the “Pleasure Palace’, a home for art and theatre, on the Southbank but was denied and ended up moving to Paris.

Uta Hagen
1960s-90s / Respect for Acting / sense memory / 6 questions / things like ‘who am I?’, ‘where am I?’, ‘How do I get what I want’.

Augusto Boal
1960s – 90s / Brazil / Forum theatre / Theatre of the Oppressed / Political / The audience became actively involved in the experience, performance / later became a politician / ‘rainbow of desire’ added a psychological aspect.

Joan Skinner
Dance / Dance improvisation pioneer / Similar to Chekhov’s ideas about externalising internal images physically / ‘Slinner Release / Feldenkreis / How internal images effect movement.

Wesley Balk
1970s-2003 / USA / Director of the Minnesota Opera / Created a system for actor singers / wrote a famous article called the ‘Disappearing Diva’, which argued that singing compromised acting (and vice versa) and, in the effort to do both, things became tangled and the result was unsatisfactory. He developed techniques to separate the two processes than bring them back together (eg. holding up emotion cards while they were singing) / The Complete Singer actor / Radiant Performer.

Dell Close
Improv teacher and comedy writer / ‘the truth in comedy’



Unfortunately I lost the notes that I wrote during the session! But still have everything we did on the big sheets of paper so that is a relief at least! Do have a look at the report on Resource Sharing (Issue No. 21) which also gives further info in relation to this all.

There are three parts to this email: (I think)
1. Principles (which need to be added to and agreed)
2. More Inspiration
3. Other Things

1. Principles
These were generated by the group in the final session at D&D and are up for input - they are useful for both the creation and dissemination of this project. I would like to suggest that we find around 4-5 principles that we can then share via the Facebook Page. Here are the ones from the notes:

We will start simply and we will try and keep it simple.
You have to offer something.
If you give you get.
People who are part of the network need to be verified (in some way).
There will be moderation but it will not be like the police.
We will provide a platform for people to express need.
Negotiations will take place between the people sharing and borrowing.
The network will be for artists (mainly performance/theatre/live - but could extend?)
The network is not a platform for selling
There will be no advertising of personal wares (such as performances etc.)

2. More Inspiration
I am currently at the Transmediale Festival ( in Berlin and have today attended a series of talks themed around 'The Currency of the Commons' and in particular the 'Future of Money. This has been ridiculously good timing in terms of the ideas we discussed at D&D. Here are a few references from the festival and from other research that are interesting in relation to Resource Sharing Networks:

The Future of Money by Emergence Collective (as presented at Transmediale 2011)

Some words that have come out of discussions today:
"It's not just what i am but its what i have access to."
"How can we quantify things that are qualitative in nature?"
"Don't hoard!"
"Peer-to-peer commons based economy"
"Self organising distribution networks"
"Linking unmet needs with unused resources"

Collaborative Consumption
An emerging movement spearheaded by Rachel Botsman - video is worth a watch.

3. Other Things
As someone suggested in the session I think it would be worth looking at the Freecycle wording for pointers
We will need to nominate some people to be admins/moderators on this.
We should gain some further clarity on the difference between physical and other resources.
I would like to propose that those that can meet up in say a week or two (could skype others in)?
It would be good to get an idea of what people can offer to this?
We will try our best to make this succeed!


Issue: Wildflowers, real and metaphorical Pioneers?

Convener(s): Clare Whistler

Participants: Poppy Burton-Morgan, then Mark Smith

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The seeds of something…, making art from seeds of ideas…performance in the landscape
Artists and change
Do you need to stand still to evolve
Not a be or a butterfly but a magnet
Performance contexts are breaking down all the time , not necessarily devised anymore
Being brave enough and to trust enough to go on a journey that no one else seems to be taking
To go wild….attend to what flowers……have beauty live……and have it die…to be the beauty and the art
Living in a wildflower meadow as a performance artist and seeing what one makes…living with the earth and weathers….needing collaborations and links, finding them person and place one by one, through intimacy, stillness, no technology
Cultivating the wild to re-understand that we will continue to make art money or not, being motivated beyond any money
Is it me singing in the dark? Sometimes that is a wonderful place to be,
Sometimes its necessary to be in the dark
Have you given yourself enough ‘standing still’
Reflect and breath and refract
The lightning hits the tree, what re-generates
Being the wildflower

The session was held in Duncan – for Isadora – a pioneer


Issue: How can you be a parent of young children and a theatre maker?

Convener(s): Ed Bartram


David J, Mark, Nick Haverson, Catzeagle, Jonathan Holloway, Nick Sweeting, Kate, a ferguson, Laura Edey, Simon Treves, K Lloyd, rod, Helen Pringle, Sarah jane, Martin, Paul, Scarlett, Alex, Kylie

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Lots of varying views on the subject…

■ networks and other parents are vital - there is an amazing resource here [all different people who are interested] – parenthood as nourishing and stimulating us as artists; with parents in theatre, it really informs their kids what they do later in life.

■ as a parent some things start to make sense, you acquire some wisdom and really fucking annoying when the people in the room [making decisions about theatre and productions] don’t get it

■ plea in a positive way that you communicate your issues effectively – having children might be one of those things; don’t want to fall into mentality of “you can’t understand if you don’t have children”; everyone who has children has different responses to looking after children

■ as a producer can’t be all supportive – got to draw line somewhere in terms of supporting performers with kids

■ its really hard `‘when I’m with kids and making work I’m not really present [with kids]’; ‘completely lost my focus when my first child was born’; ‘whole new interest in young theatre’; ‘difficult to reconcile pursuing obsession of theatre and dealing with kids’; choosing your compromises: if you’re absent from the club its really difficult to get decent work; parenthood changes way of working, changes schedules, shorter term projects, won’t tour

■ got balance wrong at first didn’t spend time with first child, and not repeating pattern with later kids; responding to own experience of parents as actors and how that created problems

■ difficulties around child protection / OFSTED issues if you look after a group of children not your own; do the children have to be in the same room as you form a legal perspective? When does looking after children become someone else’s business

■ Holyheld festival (near Falmouth) really well organized for kids; Young Vic has group on genesis network for directors with children

■ Northern stage in Newcastle developing projects with performers with children but tough with OFSTED / nursery issues etc

■ childcare pools suggested for artists across country; in Australia common for nanny to work with a company


Issue: Branding: Help Me!

Convener(s): Lucy Ockenden

Participants: Timothy Bird, Sarah Corbett, Rob Crouch, Chantal Guevara,Chris Grady, Kirstie McKenzie, Sasha Milavic Davies, Mark Smith,

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

We discovered that the primary issue was the need for a brand to express a truth about a person, company or product (show, celebrity, artist). However, one main difficulty for many ‘arts people’ is that they wear many hats or do different things.

Some felt that when audience or market identified consist of very different people then often more than one brand, or website, or business card, or outfit (suit/casual/manual) is required.

Others thought that it was important to embrace the idea of an artist or creative company expressing their diversity under one brand.

Sarah Corbett would like to do a further session on ‘personal marketing’.

Notes for successful branding:
- Identify client / audience
- Brand design should reflect what you are
- Important then to be the thing you claim to be - IE TRUTH
- Don’t get too hung up on strategy and design, when in fact ‘word of mouth’ and referral are more likely to garner new business etc

Current culture (not just in the arts) is to distrust the polymath (ie we all want the kidney stone specialist to do the op rather than a generalist surgeon. Are people scared or threatened by polymaths?

However, all agreed that cross-fertilisation, integration and collaboration are of key importance to creativity. This makes life difficult given that we have also noted that polymaths are not necessarily trusted.

Conclusion – be brave, true to yourself, and if you are a polymath – admit it and hang in there. The world will realize it needs us!!! (hopefully…)

Secondary discussion

People came and went, but we also finished by discussing how some ‘successful brands’ (ie they make money) are not necessarily successful in their implementation and in behaving in an ethical way towards the people who enable their success. This reflects one of the principal drawbacks of the capitalist world.


Issue: Where the hell do we begin? The Graduate Dream

Convener(s): Pat Ashe

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

This is just a list of what happened as it happened. It may not make sense.
• Grad jobs/internships – can you afford to work for free/ Are unpaid internships worth it/
• Should you be told the ‘truth’ about jobs before you leave training/uni?
• University should be equipping you with the skills you lack (covering letters, taxes, cv writing) Student should be feedbacking, demanding change once they have left.
• How you do it? Working to live, finding time to make and create. Fitting your art around ‘real’ work.
• Support over funds.
• A graduate open space? Pooling resources among the grads. Meeting every one else who has just been let loose.
• Knocking on the big doors, pulling open the cracks.
• Why London? Create a new artistic community. A new place to make work rather than chasing those already here.
• Corporate connections – We can give you this, what you can give us? (theatre deli – example of strong connections to companies)
• Grab it. Living choices/ licensed squats – live for cheap.
• Sweet talk the council/local businesses – make them look good to get what you want. Connect the people.
• Drama school resentment – not teaching the basics.
• Are we lazy? Ask for it, don’t wait for it.
• ‘Know what you don’t know’
• Admit what you don’t know, ask for that help.
• Don’t wait to be told you are good enough. Accept you are good enough.
• Feedback on your ideas with each other, share.
• The amount of freedom is overwhelming. Be liberated. You’re free. Focus on the positive, just go for it. Try, approach everyone. Stand on your own two feet.
• The freedom challenge, spoon-feed vs. challenge in education.
• Failure. Learning, embracing. A richer experience is fail more? Opens more spaces and avenues in your work. Danger making a better show?
• The scratch model? Whats wrong with being unfinished. Why say sorry?
• The pressure to make work straight away. 1 year before next flood of grads.
• Process is important at the start of your career. Make some shit work.
• Young companies, are we too easy on them? Looking at their possible future work over their current work.
• The link from maker to audience, ask a producer now, don’t wait 10 years to do it.
• How important is the spectator in new work/the reason for creation?

That was it briefly.


Issue: How to get in the industry as a foreign actor

Convener(s): Jean Paul Dal Monte


Monica Nappo
Claire Thill
Martin Parr
Shuna Snow

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

- Find an Agent
- Sell your “diversity” your “Foreignness” as an asset not competing for british roles
- Try to break, to breach the rigidity of the cliché’ of Italian, French etc. giving the double choice between the stereotype and the “foreign” but versatile type of actor
- If the market is still and there are no funds, better do something on your own better than stay waiting. For example, that’s what many actors do in Italy.
- If you have your agent in your own country, it’s useful asking him for links and connections with UK agents


Issue: How do we keep theatres and arts centres in Darlington and Barnet open…

Convener(s): Mhora

Participants: Kerry, Holly, Ella, Gary, Mark, Caroline, David, David, Dan, Jenny, Lynn… and more

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Lively discussion with Arts Depot in Barnet, Arts Centre in Darlington, and Stratford Circus in Newham - all facing cuts from local authorities/London Councils (in London) and reductions in ACE funding

Also contributions and thoughts from BAC, Bradford, Royal & Derngate, Tricycle, Riverside…

Keeping open in the short term…

• Politicians – national and local - need to be onside – when they’re not its VERY hard
• Board has to be committed and strong
• Harness community and local support as advocates to local politicians
• Organisation needs to be planning how to remodel the business – for any eventuality
• Negotiate time to manage transition – do we have more time in London following judicial view of London Councils?

• Keep looking to the future – tell people about your vision and open the doors
• Harness the energy of the local people who love you
• You’re their arts centre in their community
• Don’t be afraid of the Big Society
• Where arts centre/arts service is local authority run – be ready to use your ‘right to challenge’ (Localism Bill) – could this happen in Bradford

• Necessity is the mother of invention…
• Change mindset
• Change the language – investment not subsidy
• Become more politically engaged
• Run ‘I love my arts centre’ campaigns

Keeping open in the medium to long term…

Treat the loss of funds like a project – ask who you can work with in partnership for the next 4-5 years – survival doesn’t have to be about mergers and takeovers

Reinventing the business model and building local political and community relationships and partnerships – it took Royal & Derngate a year to do this

Become fashionable – build the venue up as a destination

If your venue allows find tenants that help to pay overheads

Build up endowments/buy buildings and run them commercially (Live Theatre, Newcastle)/bequests programmes

Become a provider of other services - run other arts and cultural buildings/bring other services into the building – community services/libraries

See if we can create corporate philanthropy models such as SESC’s in Brazil, where local businesses receive tax benefits from putting money into local arts centres (but these are complex)

Get involved with neighbourhood forums – could be able to access Community Infrastructure Levy funds in future

Keep a hold of your vision


Issue: Dr Theatre: Theatre Arts and the Healing Arts: Possibilities and Stuff to Discuss

Convener(s): Steven Whinnery—typed up by Kath Burlinson

Participants: Steve, Kath, Deirdre McLaughlin, Imogen Crouch-Hyde, Anna Porubcansky, Ewan Downie, John Hale, Louise Platt, Lewis Barfoot, Nicholas McInerny, El Heidingsfeld, Persephone, Theresa Feliz, Peta Cooke, Jamie Wood, Chris Grady

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
Steven began by asking each of us in the circle at that time to introduce ourselves and say what we do/why we were drawn to discuss the question. The following is a brief and incomplete summary of what people said:
Steven—a mask maker and actor—mentioned the stigma attached to living on benefits and having clinical depression, also currently studying bodywork including Feldenkrais
Kath—theatre maker/director/actor, interested in creating transformative theatre, what makes a sacred event, also not separating, but integrating
Louise—drama therapist, professional connection between theatre and healing arts
John—works in psychology as well as theatre
Deidre—doing Ph.D at central, also actor/director/massage therapist. Wants to know how to circumvent the stigma around ‘healing arts’/therapy
Imogen—graduating soon from Central and concerned with survival issues—how to make a career in theatre bring in an income
Lewis—experience of healing in different contexts—medical and artistic—wanting to share the humanity
Percy—involved in creating piece about extinction/ecological needs/climate and relationship with non-human world
Theresa—nutritional and massage therapist—childhood experience on commune in India
Anna—involved in theatre in Poland and mentioned a festival called the ‘Brave’ festival (?)
Ewan—has worked for some years with Song of the Goat—interested in how much we can give to each other and audience—how do we make transformative theatre? And how do we build an audience for that?
Jamie—involved in devising and collaborative processes—can be a healing place if it comes from the right place—interested in how to take that knowledge into working with people who are not actors

Nick McInerny joined group, asked about duty of care when getting into deeper territory psychologically/emotionally, both for participants and audience. Some discussion of the dangers of not having appropriate structures in place, led on to recognition that conventional theatre too does not acknowledge the intimacy (false or genuine) that occurs within casts and the mourning/grieving/loss when a show ends. Led to discussion of ritual as structure and perhaps greater need for this.

Interesting how discussion that began as quite heart-based then went into a territory more governed by fear. Nick asked what strategies people have for creating safe spaces etc. Kath said starting with the self is all she can do—monitoring her own psychophysical responses moment by moment and being vigilant about doing her work before working with others. Lewis spoke about the importance of honouring what is, and spoke of her experience both with herself and Ewan and their audience in a piece they made recently about torture. The idea of really taking responsibility for your own experience was mentioned.

There was a discussion about what honesty is, or whether Ewan’s phrase ‘honest commitment’ is a better way to approach the issue. John and Nick spoke of the complexities of the issue, our capacity for self-deception, many stories and plays being based on different kinds of delusion.

We also spoke about audiences, how to encourage our audiences into the ‘right’ space—a space of openness. Kath also spoke about how you never know who is in the audience or how they will respond—transformative for one may be dull as ditchwater for another. A reminder came about the importance of play and playfulness. Nick spoke about immersive theatre and Ewan mentioned an example involving a performer night after night inviting an audience member to come and dance with him—no-one ever did until one night when a man stood up and shouted that he was from Iran, where dancing is illegal, and YES, he was going to come up and dance.

We agreed to create an e-group to continue these discussions and to perhaps provide a supportive context for those of us interested in these questions. Kath agreed to do the admin!

To Louise Platt: fellow dramatherapist would like to meet you!


Issue: Singing off key: the beauty of failure

Convener(s): Karin Verbruggen, David Cottis

Participants: Ben C, Zoe C, Fiona D, Tom M, Emma F,
Mike K, Tom B, Rhiannon, Laura, Alicia R, Francesca, Jocelyn C, Hugh H, Rena Arora, Sue Frumin.

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Two distinct areas of failure were discussed – the failure of an individual project, or aspects of an individual project, and the sense of failure in general in one’s career.

It was generally agreed that it is necessary to fail, sometimes many times, in order to produce anything worthwhile.

Karin discussed a piece of work she is working on and will/could incorporate intentional failure. Nick made a distinction between work that you generate yourself that doesn’t work, but that you learn something from, and something that you’re engaged to do. Ben mentioned a production of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ he’d directed, where he hadn’t been happy with the child actors, and had learnt important things about casting.

Tom talked about the idea of creating a piece of work that was intended to fail, and asked whether this was possibly a cop-out. It was argued that, so long as you produce work with integrity, it can’t be defined as a failure.

We discussed the importance of research and development before putting work in front of an audience, and being selective about the people you work with. Hugh pointed out that it’s possible to overdo this, to the point where you don’t work with anyone.

It was suggested that, with the current financial situation, the space to fail is disappearing. The idea of punk rock, where people were encouraged to ‘have a go’ was mentioned as an ideal.

People discussed ways in which we coped with the sense of individual failure – one female actor talked about self-belief, as something she’d learnt from Lee Simpson. Nick talked about the importance of mentors, and drew the analogy with sport, where people rely very much on their trainers. David discussed the idea of a ‘fanbase’, a group of people who appreciate you even when your work isn’t going well. People talked about different things they did outside the theatre, especially physical things like dancing. Karin discussed an exercise she’d done where she was encouraged to have an imaginary dialogue about her work with an artist she admired. A female actor mentioned a similar exercise – ‘Come into the room as someone you admire.’

Hugh argued that the idea that ‘talent will out’ is quite dangerous – that it is possible to produce good work, to work hard, and still not to be successful. He said that failure should be thought of as the norm – that to succeed is the exception. Nick said that, for people in the theatre, rejection was the default situation.

We discussed whether it was necessarily wrong to acknowledge that people have strengths and weaknesses, and that people can improve through realizing this themselves. It was argued that not every piece of work is for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It was partially agreed that, because of the live nature of theatre, there’s little chance of being posthumously recognised like van Gogh, and this was something we had to live with.

Towards the end of the session, a new participant said that he found the idea of failure hard to understand, and that it was possibly more helpful to talk about being in some way ‘off-balance’. He said that, far from being a bad state, this was actually the human condition, and that we shouldn’t worry about it. He rejected the idea of ‘homeo-stasis’ and said that we should rather think of ‘homeo-dynamics’, as its in the nature of human beings to be constantly changing and seeking new things.

It was generally agreed that this was a good note on which to end – the idea that there’s no such thing as failure, and that, even if there is, it isn’t a bad thing. It was also generally agreed that, ironically enough, it had


Issue: Who Will Study the Arts at Scholl now that the English Baccalreureate is success

Convener(s): Stuart Lock


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:
The Baccaleareate consists of a narrow set of subjects and schools will be measured based on the performance of their students in the following Mathematics English Science a language and a humanities subject. Success in music and drama will not be measured. Concerns were:

• Will Music and Drama teachers lose their jobs? What are the implications further down the line?

• The group consensus was that Gove’s imposition on schools is bad for the child’s education and development.

We discussed values.
Values are forced on young people.
Parents may place more value on subjects that are perceived as having economic potential especially as students will leave university with a great deal of debt.
What does it say to young people about the decisions they make?

Value of creativity
Entrepreneurial skills are highly prized. There is a growth industry in digital and creative arts in this country. We therefore felt that the creative arts should be taught in schools. Also we discussed how the arts develop the child as a person. The arts should be valued in general. We discussed that fact that people see it as a luxury and an activity that people could do in their spare time.

We discussed the fact that school should try to create conditions in which children will flourish. The narrow band of subjects will ensure that a lot of people who are currently succeeding may well now fail.

How can schools teach within these constraints?

Teachers must be more subversive. Perhaps there is more buy in from schools. What dominates the thinking? Perhaps a broader view of creativity is required ie in mathematics. We need to show them the benefits. How is it measured? Can we think of Performance rather than theatre when we consider creativity? Theatre is perhaps a little antiquated whereas we live in a performative society where people present themselves a great deal through social networking sites
and through digital media. Perhaps this needs to be embraced across school.

Names we mentioned:
Mark Prenski – he has written about how out dated our tests are. We should not be testing knowledge, but how to research it and apply it.

Sal: creativity through mathematics.


Issue: Motley Theatre Design Course is closing down: what are we going to do about it?

Convener(s): Ellan

Participants: various

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

What can we do in the short term?
- express support, spread the word, join the facebook group and visit the website, add a testimonial – the alumni are collecting testimonials from directors, producers, etc who’ve worked with alumni, as well as alumni themselves.

The course has to maintain its individuality
Be open to anyone.
Value the individual artist
Could it be run in the same way the Birkbeck Course is set up?
Be part of a university but not have to have grades and assessments? Can theatre challenge the current academic set-up? – probably not! A former student of the Drama Centre talked about what happened when that was absorbed into an institution – tutors lost control, were forcibly retired, course seems to have changed for the worse, less rigorous, less involved with the industry?
Alison and Ashley have taken it to this level, now someone else needs to step up and take it forward to the next level, find a new model for running it while keeping the essential ethos.

Could we keep the studio open next year even if the course isn’t running? Keep it as a workshop, drop-in studio, ex-students etc can come in and work, keep the space and the Motley community alive even if the course is lying fallow for a year. A space for peer mentoring.
We could maintain the energy and the name this way, but it still needs leader(s).
Keep the space going, and the leadership will emerge eventually – the will is there.

At the moment there is no one specific crisis which we can address, more a combination of circumstances, so it’s difficult to know how to progress – hopefully the situation will become clearer once the trustees have had their meeting; and hopefully at that meeting they’ll be impressed by the huge amount of support for Motley – facebook group etc..
A clear public statement needs to be made.

The SBTD – are they aware? Are they doing anything about this?
What about the SOLT? They have money, they support young producers via the Stage 1 bursary, might they be able to help?

This is not simply a funding issue – who will step into Ali and Ash’s shoes?

Don’t have to look at it as a crisis – it’s an opportunity to restructure, and solve some of the problems that Motley’s had.

We need to value vocational training more.

Motley is special because of the amount of skill-sharing from industry practitioners – if it closes, there’s nothing else like it to replace it; many of the tutors work for free, many only teach at Motley; if it closes, they’ll all carry on designing etc, they won’t be passing their skills on to designers at other institutions.

Why doesn’t the industry engage more with what it wants from new talent?

Many educational institutions aren’t engaging with the industry they’re supposed to be training people for.

Is Motley overburdened with the weight of its past? Do we need to be more cold and unsentimental? - but perhaps that’s what makes it different, why it hasn’t been subverted and compromised and turned into just another design course.

Re-consider the model of Motley – but who’s going to lead that process?

If the Motley manifesto is changed, it becomes just another design course; there are already more designers entering the profession than there are jobs for them.

What is it that is unique about Motley?:
- approach to text, different from many other places, ability to have the conversation with the director, think like a director..
- all teachers are practicing professionals first, teachers second
- industry links
- graduate employment record
- size
- independence
- non-academic entry criteria, un-graded, non-accredited

Part of the ethos of Motley is giving: tutors give their time for free, friends of Motley donate books, equipment etc – will the closure of Motley affect the spirit of giving, of philanthropy within the industry?

Is it wrong to expect those who run the course to juggle that with their careers?
Could a better balance be created between the two things? If the course leaders were paid more, and could afford to spend more time on the course? More money for an administrator?

Directors are able to use Motley projects as R&D periods for their own work, in a similar way to drama schools and directing courses.

The current model doesn’t work, it’s unsustainable.

If Motley is discontinued as a training institution, could it continue in some other form, perhaps as a bursary or internship with a company or a designer? Something like Alison’s at Stoke – the only thing like that that still exists is the RSC internship scheme, there should be more training schemes that offer opportunities for graduate designers to learn on the job.

The industry needs to take more responsibility for the training of young designers.

We should also celebrate the training that it gives you to go on and do other things outside of the theatre industry – alumni say the skills and experience they get from Motley benefit them for the rest of their lives.

Clarity, communication: What is the problem? What does Motley NEED?
Why does the industry still need Motley? What is its USP? What needs to change and what needs to be maintained?
How can it change with the times, as the industry changes?

What will the industry lose if Motley closes?

Part of what’s special about it is that it has a sort of ‘underground’ feel, but that’s also part of the problem.

Keep some form of momentum or it will die – if it’s quiet for even a short time, it’ll lose its place in the industry – try to maintain the space and the community in some form.

The effects of Motley closing won’t be felt now, but five or ten years hence when there are no new Motley designers coming fresh into the industry.

Rather than being absorbed into an academic institute, could Motley become part of a theatre? Somewhere that has money, space, an administrative framework to run the course while the teachers get on with teaching. Apparently there was some conversation about this with the National, but they pulled out when they realised they weren’t likely to make any money from it. Greedy – they’re subsidised, they’re our NATIONAL THEATRE – don’t they have a duty to nurture young artists without trying to make money out of them?! Someone suggested the Old Vic – apparently they have lots of money, and they already run the new voices scheme, so have an interest in developing emerging artists.

Need to work out who would benefit from having Motley in their building…


Issue: Big Plays. Big Casts. Where have they gone?

Convener(s): Daniel Goldman

Rose Biggin, Nicola Stanhope, Sarah Punshon Jen Toksvig, Daniel Bye, Adam Barnard, Antonio Ferrara, Jonathan Holloway, Roddy Gauld, David Luff, Matt Trueman, Martin Parr, Tommy Lexen, Paschate Straiton, Clhloe Dechery, Rhiannon A, Alex Jamieson, Amber massie-Blomfield, Lise Marker, Malken Bruun-Aanodt, Eleanor Lloyd, tThomas Eccleshare, Alan Sharpinton, Lucy Oliver Harrison

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Questions that arose… And answers

Where is large scale theatre happening?

Schools, TV, Community, Drama School, Am Dram, West End, Major Subsidised Theatres (RSC/National/Globe)

Why is there no funding?

Personnel costs to high. Spaces to small to balance budgets. Too risky an investment. Before, lets say in Shakespeare’s time, productions were supported by guilds… not so anymore… (Corporate Sponsors???)

How big is big?

8 or 12 or 20 or 100 actors in an aircraft hangar.

Where do we put these big plays? Where are the spaces?

Oudoors. Major theatres. West End. West End has 64 theatre makers on the payroll. Wicked has 35+ etc.

Small spaces make it difficult to work at a large scale.

Would more money mean bigger plays?

Is there a way of making large scale work without exploiting professional theatre makers?

Community casts/ Working with amateurs. Working with young people. Its important to give back to/care for these “volunteers”. Training. Sharing. Support etc.

Big productions work. They travel the world. But how do you sell them/sell the vision?

Should theatres support large scale new writing?

How do you move beyond the fringe when making big work.

Do playwrights want to write big plays?

Why do we need/love big plays with big casts?

Some stories require a big cast for the telling. Big is beautiful.

Should anyone be working for free? Should we entertain the notion of a fringe minimum salary?

Generally, being paid is better than not but the establishment of an fringe minimum (under the living wage) might do more damage. Let each company offer the most it can offer in the given circumstances.

How do we get corporates/angels supporting large scale work/any work?

Some had tried and found it very difficult.

Thoughts to making big theatre with big casts doable and easier.

1) Don’t work full time hours - rehearse part time for longer
2) Be savvy
3) Co-productions (become a bigger fish)
4) Raise your profile
5) Rep system ? (advantages – training, familiarity vs disadvantage – quality (sometimes)
6) New funding means – Complimentary activities (nightclub/bar/restaurant/corporate/teaching etc.)
7) Adopt an actor schemes
8) Long term planning
9) Good quality work!
10) Give give give
11) Sell the process
12) Don’t be so precious about your artistic soul
13) Bar splits – engineer contracts with theatres in your favour
14) Find your own space – too expensive and limiting to rent theatre spaces
15) Higher ticket prices (value of our theatre?)
16) More versatility
17) The 40/45 hour week. If you’re paying equity rates, get the most out of your actors. If they’re doing 20 hours of shows a week. Use them for the other 25!
18) Keep it real – you don’t start a start up business with 20 people… you grow into a company of twenty
19) Find an angel ☺


Issue: Practical composition

Convener(s): Lizzy Westcott

Participants: Andrew Scullin, Simon Pollard, Mary O’Connor, Suzy Almond

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Lizzy called for suggestions about the practicalities of composition for musical theatre. How to progress if you hit a wall. Mary talked about Dalcrose Eurythmics, a fairly abstract method which helps to surrender the constraints and rules of standard composition, embracing ‘mistakes’ as they do not matter in the journey, as long as you reach your destination.

T.E.D. Talks and Bobby Macferrin sound as if they are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Kodaly. Hand gestures and forgetting the standard A-G scale. Read ‘Dramatic notes’ By Neil Brand.

Simon uses music as inspiration before starting work on a piece. Helps to channel creativity. Music is important even in ‘Non-Musical’ productions.

Andrew suggested to not fear completing an idea which you feel is bad or trite as this may be what the other parties are looking for. Most creative types are their own worst critic.

An actress popped up and mentioned a more ‘found sounds’ process, allowing the performers to become one with the music. Choreographer also talked about creating the dance and the music in tandem. This could result in a more powerful piece.

Important not to feel like a fraud if you have no traditional training. The confidence in your music is what counts. Don’t looked at people who are sight reading as more capable. Their rules are also their shackles. Without rules, there are more options, right or wrong.

Don’t get too clever. A flourish is nice but sometimes entirely unnecessary. There’s a lot to be said for simplicity. If your cast aren’t alienated, this will result in quicker understanding of the music = better performance.

Alex’s suggestion of using a musical theatre idea in a gig setting, therefore turning the tables somewhat.

Suzy added her lack of knowledge of her instrument is actually more freeing, allowing her scope to play with the words and is not a distraction. Followed up by a group appreciation imperfection. Judi Dench, Lee Marvin, Woody Allen.

Let’s create an opera performed by people who ‘can’t’ sing.


Issue: How can we make the process of tour-booking better for artists and companies?

Convener(s): Simon Day

Participants: `Martin McLean, Jorgen Tjon, Kate Hall, Thursa, Fionn Gill, Olga Petrakova, Katie Roberst, Matthew Austin, Rachel Brisco, Lucy Oliver-Harnsen, Bill Bankes-Jones, Simon Pittman, Marie Juliet, Joey Morse, Liz Chen, Zane Herma, Eleanor Klidingfield, Jo Crowley, Katie Duffy, Flavia Fraser-Cannon, Alfie Massey, Emma Dedkin, Simon Bedford and others

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Question has come about for me after experience of booking a regional tour following a successful Edinburgh. Although our small company (The Plasticine Men) have a good outcome, I found the process baffling. Why was so much work being duplicated? How are you supposed to conduct so many conversations at once and come up with a coherent schedule at the end of it? I thought that there must surely be a better way to do things…

It quickly became apparent that there were broadly three types of people represented in the discussion. Small companies relatively inexperienced at booking tours, experienced producers/organisations working with more established companies, and directors/programmers of venues.

The main thrust identified that the building of relationships was key, and that effective tours are many months, sometimes years in the planning, with communication between the venues and the companies/producers that they trust.

The question for me then moved on to whether small companies starting out with an ambition to tour, and without those relationships in place, should essentially aspire to find someone with that track-record to work with. The impassioned response from those people (I’ll call them ‘producers’ as a catch all term for now) was an unequivocal ‘NO!’. All the producers were forthright in recognizing the value of their own experience and knowledge, and in expressing a genuine willingness to share it with those individuals and companies who displayed the initiative to ask for it; it was offered that they share a responsibility, even an obligation, to do so, and underlined that there really wasn’t a right way and a wrong way. Examples were given of where this may have happened, through various ad hoc relationships and mentoring opportunities, or specific regional initiatives for instance.

Where certain regions had formal initiatives that linked venues’ programming, it was put that all venues operate within ‘invisible’ structures of recommendations. The model of co-commission, or associate venues was also put forward as a good way to facilitate touring opportunities after Edinburgh.

The discussion concluded with those individuals professing to possess valuable knowledge and experience that they would be willing to share, providing their contact details so that I could get back to them if I decided to move ahead with a plan to create a resource of some kind.

Other points raised/discussed

There was some discussion around the merits of a web-based resource to enable emerging companies to identify and communicate with venues, with many points well made on either side of the argument:

Each new ‘intake’ of aspiring companies essentially duplicate eachother’s work every year in building their own databases. Company’s/producers may be protective of information that they’ve put a lot of effort in to collate.
Much of the information that needs to be gathered is public-domain, just not all in one place. The information is already out there, on the web and in the Performing Artists’ Yearbook.
A system akin to universities clearing system could help smaller companies fill available slots. This may also help communication when the ‘merry go round’ of bookings is set in motion where a company bails on one London fringe venue in favour of another one, and leaves a gap that should be filled. Web resources are only as useful as how much they’re used, and need extensive maintenance.
Theatre is lagging behind a little in comparison to say, music industry, in utilising potential of web and information systems. Information, systems etc. can never replace the importance of relationship building.
Resource could be a logistical tool to help rather than an attempt to replace the building of relationships.
A central resource could be very useful for producers having to find the right venues for groups with specific access requirements.
In globalised world, resource could offer global perspective for international touring.

• Defining WHY you want to tour to a particular venue is crucial.
• Questions were asked of what may be learned from models and structures of other countries. Consensus seemed to be that there were as many approaches as there are countries, and that whatever happens, we shouldn’t go the way of the Americans!
• It was put that although funding cuts’ affect on the key relationships and programming was still an unknown quantity, that already venues may be seen to be becoming more risk averse, and reluctant to offer favourable deals.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Issue: I’m a producer. Do you have something you want me to produce?

Convener(s): Paul Cabrelli

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Paul Cabrelli
07791 184025

Also: Connecting producers and projects generally
Ed Jaspers

Useful resources:
Tango Web
Old Vic
SOLT – Society of London Theatres
BAC – young producers network
MA or MFA in Producing
Anthony Nielson “The Cencors”
High Tide
Arts Admin
“China Plate” in the Midlands

Problems with Producers:

1 You feel creatively threatened
2 Only interested in money-making (disputed by the producers present).
3 Should producers be in at the start of a project or in later (most producers want to be involved from the start). Some producers want to do just the “nuts and bolts”; others wand creative involvement.

Producers can help you by:

1 Developing an “arts culture” and theatre on a wider scale.
2 Helping you to take a risk.
3 Being a strategist.
4 Being an administrator.
5 Being a project manager.
6 Facilitating artistic development.
7 Most producers do not want to simply find the money.
8 Being a mentor and partner
9 Being a spokesperson for the audience.
10 Providing networking opportunities.

Is being a producer creative?

1 Can help you to see the potential of the work.
2 Can help you stretch the work.
3 Can help by embracing the artistic vision.
4 Can help by creating the environment to make everyone look better.
5 Can help by responding and building.
6 Putting “fuel in the tank”.


1 Do producers have to be passionate about their project?
2 What is the relationship between directors and producers?
3 Are producers interested in process or product?
4 Is anybody interested in international collaboration?
5 Most producers want to see the show not a video of it.
6 Should you stay in London or go to the provinces? Very London-centric, increased vibrancy in regions


Issue: International Crisis/ The Whitest Room

Convener(s): Dominic Campbell

Participants: About 12 people came and went over the course of 2hours – (add your name please I couldn’t interrupt the conversational flow to gather them)

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I feel slightly inadequate to the task of representing this conversation affectively, so if you passed through or contributed to this dialogue please add!!!

It started slowly with four people explaining what it was about the phrase “International Crisis/The Whitest Room” that attracted us to this particular corner of the room;
• A project that was setting out to be global and local
• Curiosity about the privilege of a position that allows us to consider ourselves in a crisis. A crisis of privilege/privileged crisis
• Considerations of culture’s relationship to race, power, class, globalism, environmentalism
• A curiosity about the changing nature of Global dynamics, and the inadequacy of our own education or sources of reference, in facilitating our ability to hold multiple cultural perspectives in equal value.

Underpinning these were concerns about the role, strategy, function, language (and ability to refute these) of a performance/theatre artist. And concerns about the ability of p/t artists to engage people, or with technology, institutions, Corporate entity, State, educational systems, and media.

(ok breathe, now do you understand why I’m challenged by the recorder’s task?)

From here the conversation blossomed touching on;
The aspirations that motivate individual engagement with performance or theatre, the opportunity to transmit this to a wide population
Fluid’s podcast theatre for personal moments establishing personal but shared theatre (or is this “theatre”? or an emergent form?)
The democratic nature of Twitter’s offer to establish communities of interest cf Facebook’s offer of competitive allegiance.
The use of tech, the headspace it creates or is establishing, the difference between this mental space and the mental space used in creating performance, the difference between online and “meatspace” exchange, limits and values of both.
“Appointment theater” - “calls me into the space for special time/ritual”. “Supplies my need for ritual”.
Live theatre enables us to practice being together, enables us to practice conversing.
Live theatre as means to sustain purely social relationships cf a social relationship based on trade or exchange or vs the promotion of competitive individualism.

London as a cultural roundabout where non-UK formed cultures meet leading to international exchange (eg Indian and African continent artists meeting in London then take work to each others locales)
The role of p/t artists in the migration across sectors, borders and mindsets of knowledge, assumptions, ideas and attitudes.
The opportunity of non UK artists to inform the solution to the UK’s Crisis
This is 2011 not 1977 – it’s not the same crisis and we blind ourselves seeing it though that optic – it is international, the same cuts strategy apparent in several countries, its driver is globalised incorporation not the politics of nation states.
Economic cuts to the arts makes no economic sense so what sense does it make? or are our leaders none too clever?
Did a decade of State support for arts and State encouragement of participation infantalise artists?
Should artists assume more responsibility, how?

Are existing structures fracturing and therefore is an opportunity opening to establish new ones?, once the old one’s clear.
A need to hold physical space – eg student temporary occupation of colleges acted as magnets for intellectual exchange that is sustained online
The reverse model – Tea Party starts as Twitter conversation then physical manifestation
Why do people March? – the physical manifestations of protest – (a) movement – “change” made literal, metaphor.
The inverse form of protest – standing still in a place that’s always moving – “a jolt to reality”
“Mirrored” or “twinned” demonstration – simultaneously in two physical spaces (plus online) for real time demonstrations of solidarity and awareness and visibility

The industrialization of the theatre sector in last decade, matched by failure to change the position of the artist. Increase in management or arts not payment to or value rating of artist. Reflective of the “Big Society”?
In 1980’ s access to becoming an artist was possible through unofficial support structures (eg Unemployment benefit), later through University grants and loans, and now…..?
How do we maintain an opportunity to transmit the values of being able to make theatre to a wide population of potential artists (regardless of our attitude to the work they make)
The challenges that come with being aware of “the connection between Boadroom conversations and stepping onto the stage” – how few artists occupy these positions, being the only artist in the Boardroom, retaining or reclaiming one’s own language in this context, the need for artists to be part of this conversation and not exclude themselves

“A silence on March 30th for those voices that will be stilled”.

Crisis as:
an opportunity to clarify your commitment and that of others,
to bond in opposition,
to explore or establish an economy that can facilitate this.
A conscious strategy to avoid producing “serving the master” relationships in an economy that supports creation.
The tendency of this to emerge from crowd sourcing funding models, which replicate patronage
Failure or difficulty in the position of a state arts council to speak to power

UK culture can be understood as fundamentally bi-polar (left/right – high/low) or oppositional (right-wrong) and is based on a word alphabet. Chinese culture based on communicating through pictogram and hieroglyph embraces a greater degree of interpretation (eg “ a bit more right than entirely wrong”). Is this perhaps enabling of what seems to us a (creative?) fuzziness, a different (to us) relationship between power and responsibility and the relationship between individual creativity and embrace by the mass?
Is China not competing with US, just in the process of doing something completely different? Returning to the fuzziness of pre Enlightenment power dynamics?
Is this mindset (new to us) valuable (to us)
What can we learn from this that is valuable and are we capable of unlearning ourselves to partake of this exchange.

And much much more


Issue: Making work that’s a bit taboo, a little bit naughty

Convener(s): Emma Deakin

Participants: Emma, Jamie, Louie, Kate, Paul, Mary, Allen… and a few more I think…

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Taboo subjects discussed such as;
Religion, War, Terrorism, Pedophilia, Miscarriage, Menopause, loads and loads…

It seems that TV and film can address these issues ‘easier’ than theatre can, why? Comedians also are another example, they very rarely shy away from taboo!
Why is this kind of work missing in our theatres at the moment, historically theatre has always been there to challenge and present taboos to their audience. However there seems to be little being made around the taboo subjects that matter to us. Theatre has a place to talk about what is not talked about!
Venue’s not always willing to touch it as its too risky?? Do they feel there is a danger in selling/marketing this kind of work to their audiences? They need to be more commercially viable, this means less risk taking?

About half way through the session we talked about how it was interesting that there were only three of us sitting here talking about this…hmmm…why? …Then a few more people showed up and the session was on its second wave! ☺

Talked about Lisa’s show (No Idea), which was edgy on disability and challenging but honest telling it like it is… this level of honesty can manage to lessen the ‘taboo’

COMEDY within the naughty/taboo subjects. Getting an audience to laugh when they don’t think they should be, also lessens the taboo, keeps it real.

Knowing why you want to tell the story & address this subject material is the most important thing.
Using verbatim. The honesty in this is gold - and often you couldn’t write it!
No matter what the subject material, when you give the audience credit & intelligence, and approach them and yourself with truth and honesty then the work can become something very special.

Dangers or pitfalls that may be encountered when making work that’s taboo or issue based;
When the person/people making it are too close to the subject material OR when the makers are not informed enough about the subject material, too distant
The work being self indulgent
The work turning into a lecture, being didactic
Creating a piece that is a ‘carbon copy’ of what the REAL issues are. Work that begins to go somewhere and is then shying away.

Action: I (Emma) am going to start developing the piece which was the inspiration of this session and will contact those (who agreed and gave email addresses) with invitations to work in progress and/or writing to get feedback throughout the process ☺
If anyone else was at this session and wants to get in touch to offer feedback about the work I am making please let me know –
I would be very grateful to receive feedback throughout the making of this piece so that I don’t end up becoming a self indulgent wanker making it ;-)