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Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Leaving space for technical creativity

Anna Barrett - 15 January 2017

WHO WAS THERE

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Who was there:
Chloe Masluter
Sarah Levinsky
Tom Brown
Naomi Kuyck-Cohen
Kelli DesJarlais
Rikki Henry

Actions, conclusions, further questions, contact details - bullet points as they happened:

Examples of companies who integrate tech creatively well in experience of people in the group:
DV8 - 2 years development for 1 show
Siticompany - U.S based
Nuffield - all of the creative team are engaged from the outset.
Complicite- all tech team were involved throughout the rehearsal process.

From experience of people in the group working in this way, frustration can come from a particular way of working that you have established as an independent practitioner being interrupted/altered.

Finding space for the tech team = asking the director/designer to leave space for them in the exchange of making work.

This brought up a conversation implemented by Tom drawing on practices developed in the last 5-10 years in IT called Agile.
The basic idea is that ‘the first thing that you do isn’t the thing that you will make' and allowing space for iteration of ideas. This could apply to the tech team. refs:

http://scrummethodology.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development

'Agile software development describes a set of principles for software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing cross-functional teams. It advocates adaptive planning, evolutionary development, early delivery, and continuous improvement, and it encourages rapid and flexible response to change. These principles support the definition and continuing evolution of many software development methods.'

We got excited and were also wary…

And then we spent some time trying to understand the ideas and how they would fit into our current way of making theatre.

And then we realised that they wouldn't and we would have to rethink it completely.

And then we were even more scared, but feeling empowered by D+D.

You really should read the system of self organisation that Agile represents, it's a form of low fidelity prototyping.

IT INVOLVES A SHIFT FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS POWER TO RELEASE SOME. DIRECTOR/DESIGNER/PRODUCER/WHO ELSE?

A designer in the group said this sounded “Terrifying”.

An irony is that this model wouldn't work in the US as it's so unionised and the agile/scrum model requires a degree of flexibility of job description not possible within a unionised labour force.

MONEY/TIME=ISSUES

We need to raise awareness of the fact that it costs more to collaborate with technical creatives.
The Iron ∆ of project management was discussed where you can have ££/time/quality and can have 2 of them which cuts out the 3rd. Agile, scrum + open space question these assumptions. Read about them.

The rest of the session was transposing our known theatre creation structure into the agile/scrum structure.

It allows the tech creatives to be acknowledged more fully, to try out more ideas more freely, and to gain more freedom to iterate.

Here's a photo of an example of a way that the agile system could work in a traditional theatre framework. The system would probably be best to be tried out in an educational framework first, not the Royal Opera House, and we would like to try it.

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