Session called by Nemo Martin (they/them) @zeus_japonicus
In attendance were: Mary @maryhippychick , Ben Kulvichit @B_kulvichit , Aenne Pallasca @pallascaphoto , Ash Rowbin , Lilith Wozniak @pluiethewolf , Emily Davis @emilydavis999 , Clarissa Widya & others!
-I called this session because I was sat in a class of emerging playwrights, putting what was ‘important’ to us up on the board. The results were… depressing. The future looked a bleak place with all the usual: Trump, Climate Change, Nuclear War, Privatisation, you know the rest. What I really wanted to say was “I’m a cynic too and I hate the world!” but what I ended up doing was saying was “I want to believe in a better future”. I think Theatre-makers tend to end up telling ourselves that everything is going to end badly and we get sad and we end up attacking the happy and the hopeful for not being intelligent enough to recognise how shit the world is.
-This space started as a place where hard-core cynics (which we all were!) could band together to pretend like we weren’t, and think positively about the future.
-At the beginning we were kind of lost in our ‘happy yellow circle’, writing things like KITTENS!, GOOD VIBES! GOOD ACCESS PROVISION! RIDLEY SINGING ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE! Etc., etc., and yeah, we weren’t exactly convincing ourselves.
-Slowly, we gained a bit of traction when we started talking about how ‘one person’s Utopia is another person’s Hell’ – I had been talking about this with Dan (@directorDan) over lunch, and it’s a valid point – there’s not one view of Heaven that perfectly matches everyone.
-One person mentions how they would like to imagine that humanity WILL band together – I mention Pacific Rim – a film where humans forget their histories and their prejudices and they Unite – another person mentions the Star Trek Federation.
-Automation making jobs redundant: Is a world where robots do all our jobs good or bad? This obviously hits working class people harder than it does anyone else – but if there’s a good alternative? Jobs without labour? What do we do with all the time we make without jobs? If there are no more jobs, can we make theatre all the time without being held back?? Is making theatre a job??
-One member says how they feel more comfortable at a check-out when they're greeted by a human cashier, and will always choose to go to them. I mention that I have anxiety around human cashiers and would much rather like machines. The key here is the CHOICE to go to either. Actual choice where it’s not a choice based on income / background / consequence of either.
-The difference between Cynicism and being Cynical? You can be cynical AND hopeful. Surely cynicism is a survival tactic so you don’t get fucked over by the world. Let’s keep a healthy amount of cynicism while believing that the future can be hopeful!
*this is where my laptop crashed and I lost the document I cry – sorry if the next bit is a bit sparse
-PRODUCT vs. PROCESS – the industry prioritises the latter over the former.
-Theatre is INTRINSICALLY HOPEFUL. Good job us for making this shit!!!
-Here’s a Utopian thought: the work in progress valued w/o necessitating an end product.
-We love unfinished things – we watch bloopers and how it’s made etc. For films and tv and everything BUT theatre - why don't we do more OPEN REHEARSALS or open space theatre??
-The best thing about theatre is the BOND of FRIENDSHIP over a production: something the audience NEVER gets to experience. An audience’s theatre experience is to Keep Quiet in the isolated darkness.
-The audience often meets the piece at the wrong point because of deadlines – theatre shouldn’t have to replicate existing structures of consumerism!
-Community theatre is always about MAKING not WATCHING – we would much rather put money into an experience than watching a shitty final project. “Hey we had a lot of fun making this this month, have fun being bored for the next 3 hours!”
-Allow artists to make without thinking about audiences! We should be allowed not to finish!
-We all have a desire to keep building and making something better.
-We decided then to make a list of the groups age vs. Their current idea of utopia.
21 – I’m at the beginning of my life, and don’t have much experience to say otherwise, so anything could happen!
37 – But it won’t.
22 – YET!
29 – I really don’t know.
22 – Sometimes hopeful? Change! Own future! Not pessimistic because we’re still working ourselves out!
27 – I’m getting there. Make our own future.
22 – Had it pretty rough so far, so it can only go up?
37 – Keep moving. Choose what pace. Accept change and move furiously but not depending on economy. Accept, don’t create situations. Don’t get stuck.
42 – Utopianism? Once I had children I began being depressed about their futures. Optimism + Fury + Pessimism + Furious sadness.
21 – Keeping up is scary. When we die, the future will be radically different. Technological change is so rapid!
22- we’ll be like the old people now who can’t use remotes!
21 – haha! Though this isn’t a Black Mirror thing – I think tech is cool, just changing.
0 – there was a baby. We discussed whether they were the least or most cynical. “CRY OR DIE!”
53 – i think I’ve glimpsed Utopia! Recognised it in hindsight. It’s gonna happen. I’m 53 and it’s still okay, you’re all going to be fine.
59 – Utopia-esque. I’m okay with not achieving my personal Utopia – working towards it is what is important.

- “#21 Utopia is impossible – we can never agree on what it looks like. Utopianism (the action of everyone creating positive space for each other) might be manageable.” - @ScotteeIsFat
Further Reading:
-The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin
-Infomocracy by Malka Older
-Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit
-Hold Everything Dear: Despatches on Survival and Resistance by John Berger