Saturday, 10 January 2009

devoted and disgruntled

Breakfast in Hackney this morning before heading to the York Hall for the first day of Devoted and Disgruntled organised as an Action Space by Improbable. I'd guess that between 160 and 200 people showed up to talk about the future of theatre, driven as a grass-roots generated agenda.

The way it works is that at the beginning there's a big wall of empty space where the agenda for the event is formed. Everyone is encourgaged to contribute ideas to the wall and they are assigned physical spaces to convene groups interested in the topic. Its a very 'in the now' process and has some simple guiding principles as well as the law of two feet - to move along if one session is no longer appropriate.

The workshop-based process works very well and we were soon all in groups talking about a huge variety of topics related to theatre; jobs; recession; funding; audiences; production; fun; politics; venues; fringe; performance types - I just scratch the surface.

There's a power to the confidence in having no initial agenda and the conviction that the right one will emerge. Judging by the motivated debate, it certainly seemed to, and the sessions were given longish time slots but many continued into the erstwhile coffee breaks.
Of course, outside of the more structured aspects, there was plenty of idea and card swapping; I suspect a whole series of new networks are being born during the weekend. I'll be back on Sunday and I know that whoever is there are the right people; whenever it starts is the right time and of course, we all make a difference.

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