How do I explain the value of what I do to my Grandad and other people?

Convener(s): Anne Langford

Participants: Helen Mugridge, Sharon Seager, Jack Klaff, Nick Coope, Ben Luke, Ellen Groves, Greg Wohead, Paul Trossell, Becki haines, Philipa Wilkinson, Dodger Phillips... And some lovely bees!

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The following things were discussed;

  • The challenges of describing what we do to people who maybe haven’t experienced if without sounding flaky or esoteric.
  • How do you actually explain what it is you do when you are jack of all trades, without sounding like a joker?  I’m an editor, producer, performer – just watch people glaze over.
  • The semantics of ‘this is what I do’.  Why not play a game – try out a description of what you do and then guage the responses until you find a set of responses to your description that you like.  For example, “I’m an aerialist”- you must have to train hard, how many times have you fallen?, aren’t you scared of heights?.  “I’m an actor” – have you been on the Bill?.  “I’m a performer” - ????[confused face].  “I’m a writer” –quiet reverence.
  • Maybe brand yourself and say it with confidence – the need to value what you do yourself.  Sometimes we project our own uncertainty and embarrassment onto other people. “I’m a theatre maker” – some people ask more some people are just happy with that answer.
  • Theatre makers have a profound knowledge of life – role as witness – distiller.  The owrd essence came up a lot.
  • Ask people for their stories, that’s what I do.  I tell stories.
  • In the labour camps in Russia people would swap stories for bread.  Someone went to see Death of a Salesman and changed his companies pension policy.
  • What turned you onto theatre – doing it.  Therefore find ways to make people do it?  Kidnap and enforced theatre making / going?
  • People are valuing theatre – they are still paying to go in a recession – they want stories.
  • Theatre and revolution – wanting truth from the stage.
  • Are we too English and polite, well it’s good because – see kidnap option.  Just do it, make it shout about it.
  • Connect through stories – ask questions about their world.  Share appropriate stories – the right story for the right person.
  • I tell people that I’m really interested in the process of human existence – and then they tell me all kinds of things – I get fed.
  • Do we need evidence?  Is passion and conviction enough.
  • What happens when the other people have resources we need?  The role of theatre in civic society – playing a part, contributing.   Legitimacy?
  • How does the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you become a great story?  The process of turning shame, pain and fear into stories.


  • Have a range of stories to tell, don’t explain what you do.  Do it. [Kidnap option at own risk].  Borrow / steal stories, plant stories and let them grow in other people.
  • Say what you do with confidence [even if you don’t always have it, might become self fulfilling]
  • Enforced experience? Don’t be so bloody English, tell stories [kidnap optional]
  • Evidence – is just saying something is important enough?
  • Essence – what we do is essential.