19 September 2012

D&D Roadshow Faversham

Creek Creative Studios, Faversham

Cathy Westbrook and PANeK's invitation:

If you are interested in theatre, this event is your opportunity to set the agenda, to talk about what is important to you, and to have your say on the future of theatre and performance in Kent. Whether you consider yourself a performer, director, writer, producer, technician, designer, administrator, programmer, audience member or have or would like to have any other role associated with theatre and performance – we would like you to come!

Theatre is so often associated with cities and metropolitan life – certainly this is where there are sufficient audiences to make theatre economically viable.    So what do you do if you don’t live within easy reach of a city?    There’s no less a hunger in rural areas for seeing great shows and there are plenty of theatre-makers around too. Do we have to pay-up and travel? Do we make our own? Do we find ways of bringing work into our communities? Of course, we do all these things – but could we be doing it all better? And is there anything we’ve forgotten? The greatest joy of theatre is sharing the experience with others. The Devoted and Disgruntled Road Show gives us an opportunity to share our thoughts, experience and ambitions for theatre in rural areas with others.

D&D began in 2006 when Phelim McDermott of Improbable invited people who were ‘devoted and disgruntled’ to come together around the question ‘What are we going to do about theatre?’ Devoted & Disgruntled has subsequently become an inspiring annual three day event, with more than 100 offshoot D&D events. These events have kept the important conversations alive and have led to companies being formed, venues being opened, festivals started, shows created, and many other new projects and initiatives. As part of the London 2012 Festival (www.london2012.com/festival) D&D is on the road, visiting 20 different locations round the country, linked by the interactive D&D website, which records and connect all the events.

Alex Murdoch and Cartoon De Salvo's invitation:

Devoted and Disgruntled is the most important date in any theatre maker's calendar and I'm really proud we're involved in co-hosting with PANek the Kentish conversation.

I'm so pleased the mighty Improbable are taking D&D on the road regionally. I wanted to be involved in this because the Salvo's are very deliberately not theatre made by and for a London-centric theatre establishment and because of that we've grown our best work beyond the M25, in allotments, in pubs, at music festivals and most happily of all in village halls.

Everyone who cares about and is frustrated about theatre in the South East should be there in Faversham on the 19th, if they can be.

Now, if you've not been before, it's worth saying that there are so many of us who think we dread ‘this sort of thing’. As if all the other people there will be sparkly networkers palming business cards and making deals over a fag and an anecdote. D&D is nothing of the sort.

You might find yourself at one point alone staring into space feeling over-awed by the whole thing but that's ok. And that's probably just because this rare opportunity to be heard and to hear is awe-inspiring. You may well find yourself in a conversation with a group of people who you thought you had nothing in common with and who can help you to change your way of thinking and looking at theatre for the better. No-one can predict what experiences they might have at D&D and that is part of the point, but one thing is for sure - you will have done something very positive for your relationship to your work and your world because you will find yourself feeling less isolated and more connected.

Phelim McDermott and Improbable'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

Booking for this event has now closed.