Is commitment the basis of creativity?: Freelancing, Individualism and the power of community

Convener(s): Ned Lunn


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

The discussion began by an exploration of the terms ‘commitment’ and ‘creativity’. The question was reiterated ‘to what do we need to commit to?’

Several possibilities were suggested throughout the session: to an ‘art form’, to ‘one self’, to a process and to other people.

The critique of committing to an ‘art form’ was that this may be too abstract. What does it mean to commit to an ‘art form’ in practical terms. The point was made that the art form was the people. You cannot have an art form without people. This broke down the ideal of remaining an independent artist although this seemed to be the original intention of the statement.

The conversation hung for some time around the concept of isolated artist; “Can you be creative on your own?” “Is any man/woman an island?”

The convener proposed a model of eastern European ensemble companies that commit to a holistic life of community and produced work from life together rather from an external call to produce a product. This lead to the practical acknowledgement for money in order to participate in society and we need to earn money in order to live. The process doesn’t earn money, the product does. Do we need money? Can we exist above money?

The conversation ended discussing the model of production that exists in UK with an emphasis on producing for the sake of money and has this reduced our understanding of theatre as vocation and is a process of discovery and sociality. Ensemble is an agreed desired goal but in practice the model of production forces this into a ‘fascist regime with the cult of the director whose vision is the money magnet.’ Some suggested companies that have survived the longevity only by participating in the model of production. The question was asked as to whether they have integrity?


It was decided that ensemble theatre practice proper is the use of Open Space principles (in particular the law of two feet) and that this enables creative discovery and expression. As theatre artists we need communities/companies that work with these principles. We need to acknowledge the pain and difficulties that these principles have on our human nature but that we need to commit to living holistically with them despite the challenges.