Big Question answers (1)

Mission Paradox is rolling out a bunch of big questions. Out of appreciation of that kind of thing, I’m going to try and answer Adam’s questions. I will probably fall behind.First question (abridged): Why would someone want to work with you? (Whole thing here)

A while ago, I was thinking a lot about the community theatre leanings of my work with Small Wooden Shoe

(“Community theatre for and by professionals”)

We had done the first Christmas Concert and were working on reading of Life of Galileo, and I was loving the relationship with the people doing these projects and the audiences who were coming.

And they were also among my favourite art events of the year.

I started saying, “We have to have ideas so good people will work on them for free. And then we’ll work to find the money to pay the people.”

This formulation does a bunch of things for me.

It puts a lot of pressure on me to have good ideas. Or to work with collaborators to make my medium ideas into great ones.

This pressure is a good thing. I think it will pay off in the show we finally make. And it certainly pays off in the commitment and investment of the people I work with.

We also have to treat people well, We have to work in a way that moves towards the parts of their work they love That gets them excited. Because the idea isn’t just the final production The idea (the one so good) is usually about the process too. About how we work.

People shouldn’t work for free (or at all) on something because the final show is so good, but the process is hell. (This does goes on and maybe even has a tradition in the theatre, but it’s a tradition I don’t have much time for.)

Of course there are bad days, there are fights and phases of a process that slog along and nobody can remember why they agreed to this. But the generosity of the idea and the ways of working are what gets us through those days.

So I hope we’re offering the chance to work on good ideas in interesting ways, Offering a chance to beat back the alienation and cynicism that can set in the professional art world. Offering a chance to make a good idea great by doing what you love to do.

And we work very hard to offer a reasonable wage.