Telling the truth: excellence versus the fragile ego

Nicky Goldie, 10 August 2012

Should there be a place for honesty in art, when creative collaboration relies to such a great degree on individual personalities, subjective opinion, being mindful of not upsetting the group dynamic and the often delicate task of managing other people's creativity?

There is often a perception in theatre that actors are allowed to be difficult and badly behaved if they deliver great performances - offensive behaviour can be excused in an artistic temperament. In the business world, structures and processes are in place to manage people's behaviour and performance - line managers, feedback sessions, 360 degree (peer appraisals) : even in theatre, technical staff have one to one appraisals to monitor performance and to discuss any issues - why not actors?

The group discussed the impact of a negative energy on a production and in the rehearsal room, the cliques and bad vibes that can exist in the wings, in the green room, in the dressing room, that can have a detrimental effect on creativity, particularly on a very long contract eg at TBTL, and thought that appraisals- regular, formal feedback sessions which would be a 2 way, constructive process between the actor and whoever was assigned to fulfil what would essentially be a pastoral role, might nip any difficulties in the bud, and would also help to mesh an actor into the culture of an organisation.
It's not just about what you do, but how you do it - being a good company member when you're thrown together with a group of disparate people is hard, but we could learn from the structures of the business world, and theatres and artistic directors and actors themselves (peer appraisal??) might ultimately benefit from learning how to 
have those difficult conversations in a constructive and positive way, and this may well improve the excellence of the work we produce.


Jo, Stephen, Godfrey, Nicky, Claire