Convener: Tassos Stevens

Participants: Maddy Costa, Jon Spooner, Shelley Hastings, Emma Bernard, Richard Dufty, Laura McDermott, Natalie Querol, Annette Mees, Phelim (on a bumblebee mission) and others whose names I forgot to catch because I was listening too hard

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Butterly wing actions are little practical things that we can do immediately that might lead to a bigger knock-on effect in the future.  Like the wing of the butterfly flapping which leads to a hurricane on the other side of the world a few weeks later. 

A mental note when we whinge about trying to make it better,

We had quite a few pauses when everyone sat and thought before formulating what sounded like New Year resolutions.

You can think of them for yourself or it could become a parlour game where you think of

“I will start a blog to publish thoughts on theatre that I see so that I can do my bit to contribute to critical debate” 

This kicked off talk about how to set up a page so that more people could contribute their reviews and comments.  And to link to all the existing theatre blogs.. some kind of RSS feed? 

And then a general resolution “to investigate thoroughly how the internet can actually be used in conjunction with theatre”

There’s an envy of the way music uses myspace, but music can be experienced tangibly through the web, so it acts as distribution as well as a social networking so that you discover music through like-minded taste. 

Should any theatre blog also list the general cultural taste of the author so you can align yourself?  So here are the last 5 albums I listened to..?


“I will start myemptyspace.com this year”


Post a pub and a time and a topic once a month

Encourage communities

Write emails to your friends

  1. This is happening, the first Wednesday of each month at the Shunt Lounge (www.shunt.co.uk)


“I want Nicholas Hytner to get out more”

started as a serious joke

then thinking that if you see something brilliant, you should email him to say go and see it (as long as you have no personal connection to it)

then transmogrified into

“the next time I see something brilliant, I will go again and take a theatre-hating friend”

as a way to ‘introduce new audiences’

and make sure you always keep integrity in what you recommend


“the next time I am in a show I hate I will leave”

more movement, the law of two feet


“I will find a joke way of saying I didn’t like that so that it isn’t hurtful”

a way to give and receive constructive feedback

although always a recongition that the timing of such feedback is crucial


“I’d like to be more cruel”

too much shit gets through the net because of (?) the tyranny of niceness


“something I’ve started doing after a show I’ve been in is saying hello and starting the conversation”


ROAR scratch nights

First of all the audience had to buy a drink afterwards for the artist they liked the most but didn’t know before coming and talk about their work for the duration of the drink (Simon Kane one scratch night was bought 19 pints)

It then developed into buying a drink for the person they liked the most (artist or audience) and didn’t know before coming and talking about the work for the duration of the drink

“when I next go and see something when I haven’t been asked to pay very much to see it, I will buy a drink for a person I didn’t know beforehand and talk about the work”

and I might get laid


“next time I ask for audience feedback I will know exactly what I am asking”

even if it’s just ‘how did you like that?’


“I resolve to use the word ‘beauty’ more in discussing work”

cherish the moments of beauty

cherish the beautiful people – Richard wants more dancer-like physiques to admire


Maddy, as herself or as press,

“I will engage more with the internet”

look at things like Encore website or theatre practitioner blogs like Paul Miller, Chris Goode, Stephen Sharkey etc,

the Guardian website will change so that reviews will be online hours after they’re filed and people will be able to respond to them online

“all theatre criticism blogs should have the feature for reader-moderated comment”

not censorship, just vote on what you think is the most sensible

Michael Billington should rate the comments to his blogs, and any other reader can click to see the comments ordered accordingly.

That’s the way round the playground, look at slash dot


“I want Time Out to drop its star system”

devalues the reviews and the critical thinking on about the only journal that sees almost everything and people care about

Critics Choice is already their award

And 6 stars is just stupid


“I’d like the word ‘theatre’ to be replaced by the word ‘performance’ as a more general umbrella term”

making work on the borders, it’s always harder to get reviewers

theatre/performance any of the umbrella terms is like the word ‘dog’

and the first job of the critic is to identify which breed of dog it is

before criticising a wolfhound for not being more like a chihuahua


“I will have creative conversations with my production manager”

earlier not later in the process

yes yes yes

practical constraints are the mother of invention


Equipment libraries

Or encourage everyone to use Freecycle and try to give it to people who will use it rather than storing it

Or a theatre camp of Freecycle

Is there a way to find a common storage depot?

Or you lease kit back to a hirer on condition you have first dibs and they cover the insurance and maintenance costs


Companies to club together and buy a van

Turn a car club into a van club


Skills exchanges


A ‘what do you need to know’ wikipage

with the basic information about how to make work listed, and like all wikis, anyone can edit it

look at theatrebristol.net as a possible model


“Can I have 5 minutes of your time?”

A telephone tree so that you can have the distant but live conversation to ask someone something you need help with

Like a speed mentoring

Take phone numbers, probably have to be administered online for anonymity

Or people could agree to have them public in small groups

And you can specify when you’ll be called and can say no.

We all liked this.

I really enjoyed this session.  Thanks to everyone who participated.