Theatre, I love it and I hate it.
I've been making it for over 30 years now. During that time I've performed, directed, improvised, designed, devised, sung, written, and danced my place in this strange parallel world know as theatre.
I've made theatre everywhere from the Camden People's Theatre to the Metropolitan Opera. I'm both an insider and an outsider. Sometimes I’ve done it well, sometimes badly. I’ve been both feted and eviscerated in the press. I’ve been inspired by and jealous of my peers and other artists in the performing arts.
Despite its highs, sometimes I’m dismayed by how we still seem to go about making it so badly. That we still don’t communicate well with each other. That often we waste the slim funds we do have on the wrong things and we don’t always practice what we preach. I’m infuriated by its competitiveness and how easily I succumb to that myself. I feel depressed by how it isn’t valued and how I have to justify and quantify this thing whose whole point is that it is ephemeral and ineffable. I am cynical about it, and I’m wildly optimistic about its ability to question and reimagine our world. Theatre you are breaking my heart. Theatre you are our only hope.
Improbable’s D&D events have been a big part of quietly shifting how the conversations that matter in the artistic world take place; a slow but persistent revolution of meaningful dialogue and emergent action for our arts and culture. It’s nothing extraordinary but it is radical and subversive in its simplicity. I’m thinking about the numerous people who have come to D&D over the years from outside the UK and said they don’t feel alone any more. I’m thinking about Fun Palaces and how it was born in a small session four years ago. I’m thinking about the children that turn up to D&D and are welcomed and call their own session. I’m thinking about their future and how the arts must be part of that.
This is how we do it: We invite everyone. We gather together. We name all the things we need to work on. We put it all on the wall and go to work.
Join us at Devoted & Disgruntled 12. The most creative and collaborative event of the year. Turn up for two and a half days of improvised conversation and action. No dream is too big, no question too naive, no topic off the agenda. Remember you do have choice and you do have agency. Right now I want to seize the nettle of my own idealism, to reach out and tell you this: “We are artists. We are people who care about the arts. We have the means to reimagine our future. There is never a better time to do that than in times of chaos. We must gather together. We must connect. We must show up, tell the truth and do so in the ways that only we are capable of imagining. This is the time. Now is the time!”
For what? For whatever you want to make happen – and D&D is the first step…
I’ll see you there.
I'm very happy to add an invitation to the annual, national, all bells and whistles Devoted & Disgruntled 2017 ... IN BRISTOL.
I love Devoted & Disgruntled because you can take the temperature of your industry, network without knowing you're doing it and get other people to help plan your life.
It is also so much more. It is a chance to think big. About, but also beyond arts and culture. You can guarantee a room full of creative people. A room full of people who want to make the world a better place. 2016 has been tough. We can start 2017 by figuring out how we change the story.
This Devoted and Disgruntled is IN Bristol but it is not ABOUT Bristol. Bristol is a very good home for it though because Open Space, introduced to us by Improbable, changed the live performance scene here beyond recognition.
Back in 2007, one of the Open Space meetings Improbable led for us, in the beautiful Circomedia St Pauls Church was just after Bristol Old Vic announced that it would close for 18 months. It was packed. The tension in the room (for the first five minutes) was unbearable. Important men from London protested that they had come a long way to talk about Bristol Old Vic not to 'be prepared to be surprised'.
Of course, they were surprised and they loved it. And as a community, we began to imagine and start making the live performance scene we wanted to see.
That is the thing about Open Space - if you feel passionate about something, you'll get to look at it from all angles and make a plan. If you don't - you don't have to listen to important men bang on, you can wander off, get a hot beverage and accidentally make a plan to change something.
See you there I hope
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