What are the ingredients for making high quality theatre with non professional theatre participants?


Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Unfortunately I was only able to join the session half way in so these are notes from my time there and typed up in haste. Apologies…


The terms ‘high quality’ and ‘non professional theatre participants’ were debated.  High quality will be defined differently according to the intended outcome. Must ask why you are doing what you are doing – that will define what you mean by high quality.

e.g If your intention is focused on social transformation then high quality theatre in performance terms may not be the priority. Process v. Product.


One person explained the release she experienced with a group after their sharing had happened – and being able to move on. The pressures of putting on a performance with a group who you don’t know as well yet. Is this about validating your work? Playing to expectations?


Communication and transparency were qualities that were agreed on as being fundamental to both prof groups and non prof groups. It is the same need to be clear about the intention.


The difference is when you are directing/facilitating with a community group, you have a responsibility not to exert power over that group. Genuine conversation and dialogue is not possible when the leader has a power dynamic over the participants. e.g you can’t make people attend workshops, like a prof company. If you’re work is about inclusion and providing a platform for expression for those who might otherwise fid it difficult, then you have to allow for their lives outside of the project to take precedence. But what is useful is being clear what you do expect i.e 60% attendance and these X, Y, Z days are non negotiable!


The challenge of your role as artist coupled with role of social worker sometimes. The importance of there being support in the room with some groups like youth workers. The importance of having enough human resources to run a particular project, otherwise can easily fail. Touchstone go into running a project ‘mob-handed’ because they have the funding.


High quality community theatre when the work is responsive to the community. Artists making work in their own community. This will help encourage sustainability. Being apart of V. Parachuting in.