Louise Platt, 26 January 2014

This session was based upon my recent experiences in working as a

“therapist/supervisor” for theatre companies. The work has involved working with a

company on a 4 month tour and also working with a company over a 2 year period, in

which a monthly space is provided for all those involved to speak of, recognise and

work through any conflicts that are hindering the creative process and sustainability of

self, the show, the company or the profession.

It felt important to emphasize that this line of enquiry by no means is leading towards

an eradication of conflict. On the contrary, it is deeply acknowledging that conflict is

essential. What may need addressing is our relationship to conflict, and a

knowingness that if conflict is getting in the way of the creative process then

something needs to change. The difference between HAVING conflict or DWELLING

in conflict.

Initially there was a question of whether we can do this for ourselves or do we need an

external person to come in and do it for us? After some discussion and reflection upon

the collective experience it seemed to be noted that it is hard to do it “for ourselves”,

i.e. the director or producer holding that space, as effectively as an outsider due to

potential conflict of roles and investments. The role of producer is perhaps more

concrete, managing the nuts and bolts rather than the personal / emotional dynamics.

The director's principle aim is for the show's survival.

There was discussion of the “checking in/out” model that is often practiced within

companies as they R&D, devise, rehears. However, there was a sense that, from

some participants' experience of having been part of the therapy/supervision sessions

mentioned above, that there is something potentially unique and useful about

providing dedicated space to sharing, thinking, being etc whilst in a process, which is

different from the check in/out model. It was difficult to articulate precisely why,

perhaps this thought coming from a more feeling/intuitive source. Someone said that

the check in/out deals with immediate needs, whereas the process central to this

discussion deals with different things.

This then lead on to talking more specifically about a touring situation in which people

are sharing a lot of time and space with each other, on a tight and often exhausting

schedule. Here lots of conflict can crop up and balancing the personal and

professional needs can be hard. It was nice to know that there was/is a dedicated

space to have issues resolved. At this point, we talked about the role of production

manager, and noted that this is not the job for them either.

Discussion was had about the populations that could benefit from an external

supervisor. At this time it seemed more relevant to work that is devised and

autobiographical or “based on” work, as here the lines between

personal-art-professional-yours-mine-ours-theirs are often blurred. The difficulty in

separating oneself from the “processes” can lead to internal conflicts. Things get

triggered. Things are hard. We are reliving a part of our life that surely has tension (for

without tension there is no art… and is tension another word for conflict? Probably.)

and so things are gonna come up. It is what we DO with these moments that is most


This lead on to a recognition of “responsibility” and our continued awareness to hold in

mind/remember what we are responsible for as much as we can.

WISDOM. This was a pertinent word brought up in the discussion. That the role of the

external one who is there to hold, reflect and challenge the group is a Wise One. AND

the ultimate task for the Wise One is to impart the tools for managing and using

conflict productively to the group. And their task is to INTERNALIZE this wisdom, so

they can then do it for themselves. That they are able to call upon their now

internalised Wise One and holds themselves. Action learning.

It is clear that the role of the external person is not to tell people what to do. It is about

enabling the people to find the right answers themselves. To listen and act upon the

right call.

SUSTAINABILITY. There is more often than not conversations about “how do we

sustain our work?” “How can we keep going?” This model is part of that discussion.

How important could it be to have an external holding space/person throughout the

creative/ion process? Is there fear that if conflict is “managed” then great art won't be

made? This seemed to be born from a fear of conflict being eradicated. Which is not

the proposal here.

“You can't keep creativity/passion going if you're not able to have conflict.”


The group touched upon the DandD model and where conflict is in the room. At

DandD people are taking responsibility in where they stand in relationship to the

conflict. Conflicts seem to happen when you forgot that you CHOSE to go in to

something, and therefore, can chose your current relationship to it, be it closer, more

distant, or twice removed.


This is a question of EMOTIONAL ARTICULACY.

There was also discussion about the long-game. That perhaps there might be value in

a “pre-brief” as well as a “de-brief”. And possibly, the “debrief” becomes a pre-brief for

the next adventure. Working with the theatre company for nearly two years appears to

have been a fundamental ingredient in reducing conflicts that got in the way of


“To embrace uncertainty and feel strong enough to be weak.”


The Reflective Practitioner.

A question of whether this is essential or a luxury?

How do we facilitate a conversation between people who don't want to talk to each

other? This seemed to return the conversation to responsibility, and asking those

involved what is their responsibility?

This connected to the “I'll Show You Mine” discussions, and who can/is

facilitating/holding this conflict? Is it tribal? Group psychology?


More was said (and not said) in this session which will have inevitably escaped pen

and paper, but this is an acknowledgement to those bits too.


transparency, I'll show you mine, Support, supervision, change, Sustainability,

responsibility, conflict, support, sustainability