Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What shall we do about Theatre & the Performing Arts now?


January 14-16, The Passenger Shed at Brunel's Old Station, Bristol, BS1 6QH


In partnership with Theatre Bristol, supported by Tobacco Factory Theatres

An invitation from Phelim McDermott, Co-Artistic Director of Improbable:

Theatre, I love it and I hate it. 

I've been making it for over 30 years now. During that time I've performed, directed, improvised, designed, devised, sung, written, and danced my place in this strange parallel world known as theatre. 

I've made theatre everywhere from the Camden People's Theatre to the Metropolitan Opera. I'm both an insider and an outsider. Sometimes I’ve done it well, sometimes badly. I’ve been both feted and eviscerated in the press. I’ve been inspired by and jealous of my peers and other artists in the performing arts. 

Despite its highs, sometimes I’m dismayed by how we still seem to go about making it so badly. That we still don’t communicate well with each other. That often we waste the slim funds we do have on the wrong things and we don’t always practice what we preach.  I’m infuriated by its competitiveness and how easily I succumb to that myself. I feel depressed by how it isn’t valued and how I have to justify and quantify this thing whose whole point is that it is ephemeral and ineffable. I am cynical about it, and I’m wildly optimistic about its ability to question and reimagine our world. Theatre you are breaking my heart. Theatre you are our only hope.

Improbable’s D&D events have been a big part of quietly shifting how the conversations that matter in the artistic world take place; a slow but persistent revolution of meaningful dialogue and emergent action for our arts and culture. It’s nothing extraordinary but it is radical and subversive in its simplicity. I’m thinking about the numerous people who have come to D&D over the years from outside the UK and said they don’t feel alone any more. I’m thinking about Fun Palaces and how it was born in a small session four years ago. I’m thinking about the children that turn up to D&D and are welcomed and call their own session. I’m thinking about their future and how the arts must be part of that. 

This is how we do it: We invite everyone. We gather together. We name all the things we need to work on.  We put it all on the wall and go to work.

Join us at Devoted & Disgruntled 12.  The most creative and collaborative event of the year. Turn up for  two and a half days of improvised conversation and action. No dream is too big, no question too naive, no topic off the agenda.  Remember you do have choice and you do have agency. Right now I want to seize the nettle of my own idealism, to reach out and tell you this: “We are artists. We are people who care about the arts. We have the means to reimagine our future. There is never a better time to do that than in times of chaos. We must gather together. We must connect. We must show up, tell the truth and do so in the ways that only we are capable of imagining. This is the time. Now is the time!” 

For what? For whatever you want to make happen – and D&D is the first step…

I’ll see you there. 

Booking for this event has now closed.