What does devotion feel like? Does it help us when we’re disgruntled?

Convener(s): Annie Rigby

Participants: Jonathan Pethbridge, Anna Morrissey, Hayley ???, Rebecca Manson Jones, Jenni Roditi, Amelia Bird, Chris Wootton, Dan Dawson

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

I convened this session because I had begun the day sitting in the circle watching people announce their burning issues, and I felt blank. I didn’t have a burning issue. I started thinking, does this mean I’m not devoted? I’m pretty sure I’m devoted. But this sitting in the circle I started thinking, what does devotion feel like? Is it this?

And then I started thinking about the blind devotion of being a Newcastle United fan. I’m not sure it’s always helped us when we’ve been disgruntled. So where do these two things meet?

We talked about what devotion looks like:

  • Exhausting
  • Bracing yourself
  • Protective
  • Childish
  • Celebration sometimes
  • Full of heart
  • It’s external – you’re devoted to something external, but theatre comes from within.

What does being disgruntled look like?

  • Can you be ‘gruntled’?
  • How can we become gruntled?

We talked about having seen a lot of disgruntlement today. We discussed not buying in to being disgruntled. Do we have to be disgruntled to be at D&D? We decided not. We didn’t enjoy being people disgruntled for the sake of it. If you’re not feeling disgruntled, don’t buy into it.

But how can we bring this positive energy into the weekend? Should we be Devoted and Determined? How do we best take care of the collective?

We talked about the law of attraction. If we are gruntled, will we attract gruntledness?

We questioned the idea of whether we needed to be in a passionate state all the time? I talked about my friend Tony, an actor, who likes that he cycles to work just like his factory-worker dad used to. It’s a job, that he gets on with.

Sometimes ‘heating things up’ doesn’t lead to the best cooking.

We talked about why we’d come today. Someone said he’s worked in theatre for over 20 years and he’s reached the point where he’s not sure why he’s doing it any more. He wants D&D to give him some defibrillation.

We looked at a lot of the questions on the wall and felt, ‘I don’t care’. We like to work with what is, not just get sucked into moaning about what isn’t.

There seems to be a sense this year of ‘if you want to do something, do it’ – i.e. finding money through other streams – consultancy/social enterprise – just finding a way to make it happen.

We talked about sense of self, and sense of purpose. Sometimes it can be very hard to separate your personal objectives from your organisation’s objectives. What is it that each of us is devoted to? We all know when we’re doing it, but often can’t describe it.

Are we selfless? Is that what being devoted looks like? We talked about cushie jobs that we have given up, because we recognised it would be better for the show/organisation/theatre.

We enjoy getting the circulation going.

We enjoy getting to choose our own mission.

To be engaged with D&D you shouldn’t need a drum to bang.

We talked about people who’d run ‘useful’ sessions (drawing from the expertise of the group to help the convener address an issue), rather than ‘moaning’ sessions.

Someone said they had wanted to raise an issue but they hadn’t been able to form it into a question – Why aren’t we making theatre that helps us understand the economy? We make work about war, politics, etc, but we don’t understand how the economy works, and we need to. She talked about the idea of a credit crunch cabaret which would explain things like leverage, hedge funds, etc.

We thought it was a brilliant idea. We talked about money being communication, and how weird it is that we don’t talk about it. If she could get audience members to say how much they earned and what they spend it on, it would be fascinating. It gives you insight into different worlds.

We talked about why artists don’t make more work about this? Because we’re often people who aren’t good with numbers? We weren’t sure this was true. But we don’t have a lot of money ourselves, and maybe we don’t understand the worlds of the super rich. It would be interesting to explore.

We look forward to the credit crunch cabaret. We are gruntled at the end of the day.