People are very reluctant to say they are making the world a better place, even when they clearly are. Fair enough – no one likes a show off. They question their motives – ‘am I just doing this to make myself feel good’ – maybe, but I have a certain amount of confidence in anyone that’s self-aware and self-challenging enough to frame that question. People that came to chat were much happier to mention examples of other folk making a difference (from which the examples in the first paragraph are drawn).

Some people came to the session because they feel discouraged about the whole idea that it’s possible to make the world a better place. There seems to be a sense that making the world a better place requires massive actions that make significant change for millions of people. Personally I think tiny interventions can be every bit as, if not more important. I think trying counts. I think that’s sort of the point – do what you can and don’t be put off by thinking it’s not enough.

A lot of the conversation was about whether the very existence of a show (about anything, by anyone) makes the world a better place. I’m not quite convinced on that one.

We talked about one person’s experience of making a show that was intended to make a difference – to make people realise the impact that austerity is having on the most vulnerable in society. It was artistically successful and sold well but the audience were the choir – they came specifically because they already agreed. We talked about how to reach those not already converted in the context of putting a play on in a theatre for which audiences choose whether or not to buy tickets. We talked about the stealth/trojan horse approach. We talked about schools audiences. We talked about challenging people that already think they’re ‘on side’ with a subject to look deeper, to question their own behaviours, to take action.

We talked about saying the important thing but also ensuring your audience is primed to hear it, open and receptive, otherwise what’s the point. We talked about the futility of shouting into the void. We talked about the importance of shouting into the void. Shows mentioned as having found ways to address these challenges included The Jungle, The Vagina Monologues, Burgerz, Fairview.

Once person, a theatre maker who now works in community development and facilitates meetings, not unlike D&D, that focus on supporting people to make change happen in their own communities described their work as improvised theatre within people’s lives that develops through a series of short interactions over a period of months or years. I think that’s what I do to. I didn’t get your name but would like to listen more.

Seeing the sheet entitled ‘things you’re doing to make the world a better place’ forlornly unadorned at the end of the session someone recommended A Path Appears by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn – a practical guide to things each of us can do to make the world a better place.

The blank sheet may have been forlorn; I don’t think anyone else was.