Theatre companies can sometimes feel as though they exist in a vacuum, how can we encourage them to work with one another to challenge/build upon their practice?

Convener(s): Matt Rogers                  

Participants: Dan Barnard, Amelia Bird, Pat Ashe, Will Bourdillon, Ronan McMahon, Liz?

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Issue started as a response to the development of Chotto Ookii Theatre Company; who after 5 years working together needed to take a break and work separately to draw new influences. Whilst it was valuable in this case creative fatigue can be the death of many companies.

Collaboration seen as a valuable tool to assist companies in taking a clearer view of a process. However a good collaboration comes from knowing your collaborators and how their work connects with your own.

Case study given of a recent Gomito project in which members of another company joined a show, it followed a Gomito process but was informed by each individual’s work.

Talk about formats, would people be interested in a short project which had the sole purpose of working with people who engage in different practice? Agreed that a Collaboration is not something that can be entered lightly but a small sharing of process which occurs in a closed space over a small period of time would be tempting as a learning experience.

Why not workshops?

The benefit over workshops, is that the expression of process is less formulaic, and in many ways less self conscious. Highlighting the reality of process as opposed to the illusion which can often be portrayed in workshops.

Is a performance outcome necessary?

Some form of product would be needed to drive the work, even if it was only performed to a peer group. It would specifically not need to be a high pressure performance.

A new Model offered. 

Gomito ran into a similar problem to Chotto Ookii at one point but solved it by running “Open Workshops” as an early part of their process, allowing them to take on new perspectives on their ideas. This both generated material and gave them a chance to work with new people in an unofficial context.

Another Model

Collaborating over a long period of time with little pressure to create a product can be valuable (the long running side project) offering the chance to log ideas which don’t fit into other things and work toward something over several years.

The People

Always be picky about full collaboration but a policy of openness is key to a playful environment in the lower pressure projects.

“Regular collaboration will get better results” – Will

To get the best out of such interactions it cannot be a one off.

Is collaboration “compromise” by another name?

A worry that the most respected artists are known to be “uncompromising” and does collaboration dilute this?

The response was that an artistic vision can still be maintained without compromise but drawing from the skills and methods of others.

3rd Model

The Book Club (Living Pictures) – directors work with groups of actors selecting a text and a practitioner’s book and apply the methods of that practitioned “as written” to a short creative process. Then see what they have learned.

Creatives should partake in perpetual training and learning from one another can be the key to this.

Another benefit of working with “outsiders”

Having none core members in a rehearsal room aids focus, there is a need to appear productive which may not always be present amongst core company members. It also offers a chance to connect with the wider artistic community.

Some talk about sharing other resources (vans, accommodation, equipment etc.)


Is there a resource for Theatre companies (akin to the young directors network)?

Answer – No.


Mention of “The Future Playground” which connects people who make teatre for young people.

Discussion of platforms, NING and Facebook are weighed against one another and Facebook is considered more accessible.

Suggestion of it as an open forum is put forward, and danger of people only using it to promote shows rather than for its main purpose.

Purpose defined.

It must be used to offer training and collaboration opportunities, discussions and to express needs within the community.

Amelia Bird agreed to start a Facebook page called Collaborating Theatre Companies. It will be announced during NEWS.