30 June - 1 July 2012

D&D Roadshow Bristol

The Tobacco Factory, Bristol

Ali Robertson's invitation:

Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today

For a while now, there’s been a feeling around that the south west and Bristol in particular is going to be a wonderful place to make theatre. It has felt like we’re on the cusp of something glorious. It’s true, things are already pretty special in the region: artists are making good work; Bristol is regularly described as the go-to city for graduate, new and emerging theatre-makers; it’s saying ‘yes’ in a way that no other places outside London are. 

That all this has been built up organically reflects wonderfully well on the region, and yet there are things to be genuinely concerned about. The situation as it stands feels very precarious. Aside from the talent, passion and determination that abounds there is something just not solid enough in the foundations and infrastructure to support the achievement of the sector’s aspirations. For example, I am always dismayed to hear how even those artists who are amongst the most successful in the region in terms of quality of work and reputation are surviving on so little. It seems to me that it’s hard to make work for all the wrong reasons, and I am worried about the how the day to day realities of living and making a career impact detrimentally on the morale and ambition of theatre-makers at every level – from those just starting out to those who’ve been around the block.

If we want Bristol to be everything it could be then I don’t think we can just keep going on as we are. In fact I’m afraid of what’ll happen if we do: it feels just as likely that things could fall apart as it does that they could become glorious.

I said ‘yes’ to the D&D Roadshow coming to the TFT because I want concrete things to happen, things that concern artists not just here but all over the country.  Being part of a nationwide conversation represents a real opportunity for transformative change – change that must happen if we are to not just survive but also thrive, change that sees Bristol take the leap and move from being on the cusp of glorious to actually being glorious.

Ali Robertson

Director, Tobacco Factory Theatre

Phelim McDermott's invitation:

Do you love theatre?

Do you find it frustrating?

Do you feel audiences don't get a voice?

Do you feel like an outsider in your own profession?

Have you just started out and need support?

Been in the profession for years and feel jaded?

Is your region always left out of the discussions?

Do you usually dread discussions and meetings?

Are you looking to change things?

In 2012 for the first time ever, you have the opportunity to take part in a unique nationwide conversation.

In 2006 I wrote a heartfelt invitation and the first ”Devoted & Disgruntled: What are we going to do about theatre?” took place. This was an open and collaborative conference, a chance to check in with the theatre community, share the news about what we were doing well, talk about what we could be doing better and take action on how to improve things. 

Devoted & Disgruntled has subsequently become an inspiring annual three day event and since then there have been over 100 offshoot D&D events. Some have been monthly themed satellites, some have been regionally based like D&D Scotland and D&D North East, some have been international events like D&D New York and Vancouver. These conferences have kept the important conversations alive and have lead to companies being formed, venues being opened, festivals started, shows created, and many other projects and initiatives.

The Devoted and Disgruntled Roadshow has come about in response to numerous requests for these conversations to reach beyond London, and engage with all parts of the UK.  So as part of the Cultural Olympiad we are going on the road, holding D&Ds in twenty different locations round the country, and we are going online, launching a new interactive D&D website, which will record and connect all the D&D events.

In theatre, as in so many things, it can feel like the agenda is set, and the decisions are made by a faceless, unreachable "them". We wait for "them" to talk about what we think needs talking about and for "them" to solve our problems. Guess what? "They" aren't going to do it. But you can, and D&D is the place to start - so if there are questions that you think should be asked, projects you want support on, things you want changed, join Improbable this summer on the Devoted & Disgruntled 2012 Roadshow in a conversation that could reshape the theatre landscape. This is a unique chance for your voice to be heard and for us to listen to each other, face to face and online, locally and nationally. Join us and let’s work together towards making theatre better and making better theatre.

Phelim McDermott and Improbable

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