Bridget Floyer, 27 January 2013

The convener didn't turn up to this session so I scribed for the first half… I've tried to



We wondered if the convener not coming was a deliberate attempt to leave the group

in a state of doubt…?

At first the conversation was about doubting oneself - making a living out of the arts,

doubting your own decisions, whether you'd be a success. We decided that it takes a

leap of faith (or many), that most people doubt themselves and that it's important to

confront your fears and believe you can be a success (though is the hard reality that

success is only for a few?) Sharing your fear can be healthy (if you share with positive


Then we made a distinction between doubt - challenging things, asking the question -

and fear. We decided doubt might be healthy and in fact essential to any creative

process but fear can be bad. Successful people often don't fear (or overcome their

fears) but they might still constantly use doubt.

We went back to the question - WHAT DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?

This led us to a conversation about ‘stupid questions’ - often in theatre people feel

they have to hide what they don't understand and pretend they know all the answers.

This might be a cultural thing and/or a fear of looking stupid.

So called stupid questions can be very valuable. Often no one knows the answer. You

need to make sure you are going in the right direction not taking a totally wrong route

or basing things on false assumptions because everyone was afraid to ask. If we fake

understanding in conversations then we can't have real dialogue - you're not getting

references and so not having the conversation you think you are. This could be

because you're not actually interested, it's not relevant for you, or really it's about

power play, or status.

We questioned what we meant by stupid questions - because really we mean the

questions that AREN'T actually stupid but you might be afraid they are. No one else is

asking them.

Going back to doubt can be joyful.

It was suggested though that sometimes though it's the wrong time for questions. Or

you should just stick with the question. We can be obsessed with knowing all the

answers. Sometimes (and we began to talk more specifically about the creative

process) it's important not to know the answers or to know which the answers are

which you need to know. Examples were given:

• a director/writer who couldn't answer the questions the actors were asking - so

used the analogy of playing a musical score. The musicians can question the

volume or pace but not the notes

• White Rabbit - a play in which the actor doesn't know what the play is about until

they open an envelope on stage (does this set a safe context in which not to know

the answers?)

• Peter Brook directing a play and constantly changing something every night so it

was never finished and the actors never stopped questioning an aspect of the


Some felt that the way in which our industry is set up to need finished structures might

be bad for the work - can/should a show ever be finished?


challenging, Sharing, finishing, jargon, questions, Process, process, doubt, sharing,

success, Success, Doubt, fear, stupid questions