Mark Pritchard, 27 January 2014

Action Session, Monday 27th January 2014

Mark Pritchard, Eric Ng, Bryan Woltjen, Michela Sisti, Kirsty Lothian, Phelim

McDermott, and others

Open Space Technology – The User’s Guide. This is the essential resource for setting

this up overseas. It’s a guide to the Open Spaces technology designed by Harrison

Owen. This technology is completely open access; no one owns it, anyone can use it.

Devoted and Disgruntled is the conception of the organisers, in which they apply open

spaces technology. They’ve made some decisions about how to use the technology,

though they don’t break or ignore any of the guidelines of the technology. They have

developed the website, and the reputation. If we make our own D&D in particular, we

should do it through conversation with them – with all generosity, it’s still theirs. They

are open to helping it take place in other countries and have done so in the past

(Brisbane, Toronto, New York, and others). These events are costly, and in planning

an international operation, the money question becomes very relevant very quickly.

We expressed our ambitions and our fears in relation to trying to take this back. I

wonder if I’ll feel like I’ve just joined a cult, and am going home to preach the gospel to

the non-believers.

We’re afraid of doing it badly – but if we do everything the book says, it will work.

There is room to be an excellent facilitator, but at a base level the rules work.

We’re afraid that too few people will turn up – but apparently the technology only

needs three (3) people to work.

People can be afraid to let it work – we need to all trust the principles.

People try to bring in nametags, keynote speakers, or pre-empt and steer it, but these

will break the rules and undermine the event. Don’t take short cuts either. Make sure

you actual open the space, hold space, and close the space.

Again and again we reminded ourselves: you just need to trust the technology.

How does open spaces technology work in companies?

How easy is it to lose labels and hierarchies, and all be equal?

How important is it to do D&D in unaffiliated venues?

The crappiness of the design aesthetic is important – the signs are hand written, the

adhoc nature of it is key.

But this is organized chaos. In the words of Dolly Parton “It takes a lot of money to

look this cheap”.

It was interesting to hear about how the Improbable Theatre Company use open

space technology in their own practice, as a means of making work.

This technology can be training wheels for operating in the world.

It can also be your health and safety guidelines.

There was once an experiment into trying to live in Open Space – we’re not sure what

happened but it sounds fascinating.

There is an open spaces map online, to see where people are using the technology.

Eric, Bryan and Mark decided to link up and take steps to make D&D happen in our

own countries – two or more in Australia, and one in Hong Kong. We’d all been to

theatre forums that go wrong, that don’t work, or that don’t work how we expect them

to work. We don’t want to try to evolve the existing forums, but initiate our own to exist

in their own right.

The Improbable Theatre team are bringing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to Adelaide soon –

we might want to check it out and use that as an opportunity to reconnect. Also

coming up is an open session at the Bush Theatre on Feb 18th.


ISSUE: Initiate D&D in our home cities, towards linked forums and synchronicity.


- Go to Adelaide to connect with the Impossible Theatre team through ‘Beauty and the


- Think about dates, venues, people


Bryan Woltjen

Eric Ng

Mark Pritchard


Get the book


We will each champion the cause and check in on each other.

Comments: 2

Anna Cottis, 11 February 2014

I'm facilitating an Open Space on Commedia Dell'arte in Paris on the 23rd of February. The company supporting it, la

Compagnie du Mystère Bouffe, is very interested in Open Space. Not a “D&D” but it will be a cousin of D&D if not a sibling.

I oddly have no fears at all about it, particularly after attending D&D9. I think I “get” Open Space, and what I don't “get”, I'll

learn. We already have seven people coming, so that's enough. And we chose an unaffiliated venue instinctively - glad to

have that confirmed.

It's in French, but for info:

Facebook link:

A dream I have is to find a big partner here to organise a D&D-type event for France, on all aspects of theatre. There is

plenty of “disgruntled” here. I think I can do it for 2015 or 2016. I'll be needing to talk to Improbable about what belongs to

Improbable and what doesn't, and clarify things so as to start off well. Later.

I shall be continuing to spread Open Space in France and commedia dell'arte in Britain. Will keep you posted. Please put

me in the loop, if there is one, of D&D facilitators in different countries sharing experiences.

Thanks, Improbable.

Kirsty Lothian, 1 August 2014

Anna, it's taken a long time for me to see this comment!

It sounds very exciting- I hope your OS went super well- we're planning for D&D10 to invite the world, and be a really

international event- so it would be great to speak about how to get word out in France!

Also, you asked about information sharing internationally about OS- have you found the OS list yet?

It is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in opening space.