13 - 14 January 2007

Devoted & Disgruntled 2: What Are We Going To Do About Theatre (Now)?

Battersea Arts Centre

It leapt on to an empty stage: it wobbled, it looked as if it would never take off, and then suddenly, it was flying. Sky-high. A Theatrical St Crispins Day

Susannah Clapp, The Observer, about Devoted and Disgruntled I


What are we going to do about theatre (now)?

At the beginning of this year Improbable held an event, attended by 

about 200 people from the theatre community. It was called Devoted 

and Disgruntled and was a call for people to work in Open Space on 

how we might make better theatre and make theatre better. It was 

about what we were devoted to and what we were disgruntled about. 

About how we make theatre, produce it, sell it, love it, hate it, be it!

For a few days we experienced the great high of working in a 

different way on issues that are important to us. For a few days 

those who were there (and a few who weren't but felt the 

ripples) experienced the opportunities of this different way of 

working; a sense of community, change and spirit. At the end of those 

two days many were in agreement that it was the beginning of 

something exciting and that the tectonic plates of theatre had 

perhaps shifted a bit.

It's ten months later and I'm even more devoted and more 

disgruntled! More devoted because I saw what we could achieve in just 

two days more disgruntled because theatre still seems to be in dire 


I have been involved with professional theatre and performance since 

I left college in 1985. Since that time I have created and co created 

shows, which have ranged from totally improvised and devised work to 

classical texts for repertory theatres, from puppetry to site 

specific work and from dance theatre to comedy.  I have performed, 

designed, written, devised, taught, improvised and served on the 

Board of the Actor's centre.  Yet in all this time I have often felt 

an outsider in my own profession. There are things I love about 

theatre and things I find very difficult- things which I wish 

were different. I find myself both devoted and disgruntled. Over the 

years I have often found myself gossiping and moaning about how the 

world I work in could be better. Not just about what we put on the 

stage but how we produce, manage and administrate our work. How we 

create it in all aspects and how we treat each other as a creative 


Are you devoted and disgruntled like me? Do you still feel like an 

outsider in your own profession? Within only the past ten months the 

world has got crazier, the urgency is more extreme and maybe theatre 

has got worse? Are you up for making it better now? I made a 

commitment to continue opening the space for people in theatre so 

that we might continue working on what we are going to do about 

theatre, knowing that somehow we are devoted to this thing but that 

things could be better, and we are going to do something about that.

Its time to shift things up a gear. From now on we will be doing 

Devoted and Disgruntled at least once a year! The next one is on the 

13th and 14th January, at BAC, a venue dedicated to inventing 

theatre's future, and it is the next chapter in this story. A 

story of change, a story of difference.

Come and join the ride! the rickety plane is leaving! are 

you on board? Are you devoted? Are you disgruntled? A strong point of 

Open Space is it's ability to unite groups of enormous diversity, to 

that end we are encouraging all participants, if you think this event 

is not for you, it probably needs you there.


Phelim McDermott,

Co-Artistic Director, Improbable

Please distribute this information as you see fit to practitioners 

and colleagues and anyone else who you think might be interested.

Booking for this event has now closed.