Ellan's tweets first, then notes on the session:

ELLAN: Often companies and artists are invited to make work by theatres / ADs who are aware that
they will not fit into the usual paradigm, and in fact claim to want an alternative approach -
however, this often falls down when it comes to practically realising these projects.
This then tends to get framed as clashes of personality or ‘progressive vs traditional’, which I
don't think serves anyone, + misses the wider picture. All (or nearly all!) people involved in
every aspect of making a show want to do their best work and make it happen…
...so how can we all understand, support and facilitate each other better to do this? There's
an increasing interest in work being made outside of traditional structures and processes - I
think a conversation is urgently needed around how that can work practically.
All too often artists creating content feel they're being obstructed, + those charged with
actual, practical delivery of that content -makers, supervisors, PMs etc feel they're being
framed as obstructive -all are trying to do their best work within parameters they've been
So... What are some examples of good practice? Experiences of bad practice /mistakes
that can be learned from + avoided? What expectations need to be clarified? What do
you wish someone understood better about your job?
As theatre-makers working with /developing + propagating alt. processes for several
decades @ all levels + scales of our industry, I’d be very interested to hear from
@openspacer @lee_simpson1971 + @AngelaClerkin on what has + hasn't worked, changes
they'd like to see..

Those of us who work in the creative industries often experience a profound sense of our
identity being strongly enmeshed with the work we create. There are both good and bad
aspects to this; the emotional stakes are high, work spaces + working relationships need to
be sensitively + ethically held.
The experience of a project or working relationship ‘turning sour’ can have profound,
traumatic, long-lasting effects.
The ways in which theatre is (generally) made tends to be strongly hierarchical, siloed +
structured. There are various historical + systemic reasons for this, in which expedient
means for getting the job done intersect with the maintaining of power + market structures.
Some of these structures are benign, some outright abusive, others at v least problematic +
deserving of challenge or re-thinking. There seems to be a growing sense that many of the
structures within which we operate are no longer fit for purpose, + increasing interest in
exploring alt. ways of working…
…however, removing the structures and hierarchies on which practitioners have learnt to
rely opens up a lot of room for fear + vulnerability, which in turn can lead to clashes, abuse,
Eg simply removing hierarchies + structures without giving serious thought to what might
stand in their place is irresponsible + dangerous –a bit like colonising a country, systemically
exploiting its resources + abusing its citizens, then simply f*ucking off after the inevitable
revolution with no transition or exit strategy
Equally, trying to cram a non-traditional project into standardised structures, staffing,
scheduling, division of responsibilities etc etc is never going to end well…. Round pegs,
square holes…
Entrenched systems + structures within theatre industry operate alongside intersections of
class, race, gender, disability, neurodiversity, job titles / roles + associated levels of power +
agency within the wider system, to create many vulnerable + subaltern groups…
…and I’ve truly HAD IT with marginalised people being told it’s their responsibility as
individual to push themselves forward / protect themselves from exploitation, oppression,
abuse. Check your privilege. Attend to systemic issues + collective responsibilities to support
If we truly want to address inequality in creative industries, a radical, ethical +
compassionate re-thinking of every aspect of how we work together is required.
When I refer to ‘structures’, what I’m usually talking about is various operates of power +
money. Some of these are v big picture indeed -eg govt. funding for arts, patriarchy, racism,
capitalism… but these impact at micro-levels of staffing, scheduling, funding, hierarchical
structures within a company /building
I hope the connections I’m trying to make between a rethink of standard + alt. working/
creative processes + structures, + the wider questions that our industry needs to be asking
itself, are clear. I'm monologuing here, so it's tending towards the abstract....
...ultimately I believe most in the power of dialogue (not necessarily consensus) in dealing
with this stuff, so v much look forward to reading report of this session. These r some of the
things that are on my mind -wish I cld be there in person to hear other

Good practice - how Louise Jeffreys at the Barbican did it in the old Bite days: here's the money, now go and make your work! Not any more. Need for TRUST came out strongly - often venues don't fully grasp or understand a process and, eg, want access to a rehearsal process when it's not appropriate. It's essential that the venue/organisation understands that the work is being made in different ways. 1927 had a difficult experience in the past in this regard.

Does the venue/org understand the company that is making the work? Their history? Their process?


Where are the theatres commissioning devised work? Some offer space, or very small commissions. Few offer more.

Good practice - the New Wolsey and their support for Gecko, how that relationship developed and allowed Amit to develop the work and process he wanted.

How do you build trust? How do you empower?

What buildings/spaces do we have that support devised and experimental work? Things seem to be going backwards? - the NT had the Shed. Are we returning to a play-based norm? The NT Studio now very play-based. 'Send me a script' is a standard line. Why can't Dorfman, Royal Court take a risk? Stop asking for scripts. Feels contradictory - great new people taking over buildings, but focus on stories and plays, no-one is talking about process? working methods? Scratch systems are fine, but a scratch can also kill a project at an early stage.

Good practice might be for venues to ask: 'What is your process?' Accepting that each company may have a different and unique process.

Trust again - where does trust come from?

Fish tank metaphor - you might put one fish in the tank and then it kills all the other fish - related to power dynamics. How is it possible to have more equal relationships between performers and venues?

Do venues/ADs go and see devised work?
Why isn't there a national centre for devised/process-based work?

Possible model - bring in a whole group - put them on a salary?

Change the model - what do you replace the lowest level of risk with? What is the equivalent in devised work of a script, that can be assessed?

Support from producers - at BAC - no plays - scratched work, small commissions. BAC producers may have more understanding of process-based work. Also Home, New Wolsey as venues seen as sensitive to process. But where are the larger institutions? What's happening at the Young Vic? Sally Rose has gone there from BAC...

Devising or process-based work engenders a lot of vulnerability, fragility. There's rarely enough time to really be able to consider this! Big institutions are less familiar with how to collaborate - what structures might be necessary.

Could the universities play a bigger role? Ben Frankham (?) at Chichester - was offering small commissions - no strings.

Need for big conversations to happen with venues and organisations!