TBT: Post-Disciplinary Manifesto - draft 3

Originally posted September 2005

Pre-amble

Most manifestos or labels define a positive rule. To call work “Interdisciplinary” implies that all work will contain a mix of disciplines. That this disciplinary mixing will be a considered assumption of every project. Post-disciplinary make no such assumptions. Having worked though “multi” and “inter,” “post” argues that disciplinary assumptions are no longer useful. That art work and artists no longer require of themselves a primary distinction.

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2 things to help in the rough patch.

It's been a bit of a rough patch. Broke and getting more No than Yes. Or at least it feels that way.

Many things are exciting and feeding me. The struggle is to focus on that. So inspiration is very helpful.

1.

Listening to Nature Theatre of Oklahoma's podcast is always good for the confirmation that others are fighting the good fight - but the most recent one with  Oskar Eustis, director of The Public Theater, is especially good.

A bold and honest conversation that is a must listen for every creator and artistic director everywhere. Great aspirations about bringing fairness and integrety back to not-for-profit theatre (hint: artists get more of the money, the cost of admission has to fall to turn away from elitism) and the search for a populism we can stand behind.

LISTEN HERE. Or download from ITUNES

2.

The new episod of the MADE HERE series (a HERE project) is also helpful - just to hear others say it out loud. It's also another example of a theatre institution doing important work on the internet.

Material surprise

I caught two programs at the Images Festival this weekend and wondered if –The nature of surprise is different in analog and digital

(for the sake of a very digital either/or I’m including live performance in analog and - importantly for my experience at Images - including film as opposed to digital video)

maybe

In analog, we (the audience) can be happily1 surprised by content and by material.2

In both analog and digital we can be surprised by content of course - something unexpected happening in the thing we’re seeing. Structure, events, language, image, context, juxtaposition etc… The common elements can all be a part of this. Experimental or classical, academic or populist etc… all play this game.

In analog work, the material can also surprise - first the artists and then the audience and this surprise can be central to the meaning making. The body can do the unexpected, the language slips, the paint behaves in unpredicted ways, the celluloid does something different. These productive mistakes are then integrated into, or become, the content.

But material surprise is not something I, as an audience member, look for or experience with digital. When it exists it's only jarring (I'm thinking of digital noise, broken code, dropped frames)

2 pieces by way of example:

In Sugar Beach, it’s the in camera processing of film that surprises - Mark shoots through a small hole, rewinds the film and does it again – resulting in a “same but different” that’s beautiful and bound to the material of film.

On the other end of the spectrum: Simon Quéhiellard’s Maître-Vent is a piece of him setting up discarded materials (broken umbrellas, boxes, skin ply) by the side of the highway and recording their reaction to the wind of passing trucks. So much surprise, delight, tragedy, expectation and narrative ensue from watching his desire and the reactions of plastic bags and pop cans. It’s the best Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton film made last year. The surprise, though, isn’t in the material of video. Digital accidents would be out of place and much less meaningful.

This probably isn’t a new thought in the world - and I’d love to be pointed towards the exceptions - but it was lovely to experience it first hand.

Images Festival is on until April 20th two things other things I want to catch:

  • Rope  - FADO co-presention at the Theatre Centre Pop-Up. April 16th is your last chance.
  • Ants at Interaccess - Oh!m1gas is a tribute to the sophistication and organization of ant colonies

  1. “Happily” for me is a pretty open term I use for a response that one is glad to have had - this, of course, can include a wide range of responses. ↩
  2. Another insufficient but helpful dialectic. ↩

Slow down with those numbers.

For the record:

  • I believe that going out can have a positive effect on a persons life.

  • I believe that going out to meaningful and delightful things should be part of peoples lives.

  • I believe a function of art might be ease alienation without denying complexity or difference.

  • I belive the simplifying tendancy of lobbying is part of what’s broken in democracy.

  • I would really like to have a semi-public conversation about this. Especially with researchers who can dissuade me.

Over the past few weeks the Canadian arts twitter and facebook-verse has been full of studies.

Despite agreeing with the broad goals of all this excitement, I have a compulsion to ask about the studies, and have doubts about the methodology of lobbying / cheerleading. Part of the blame should be on my listening to Thinking, Fast and Slow which I’d recommend to anyone who wants to reflect on how statistical thinking is not something we’re good at. (Other interesting things in the book too.)

Here are the flags that go up for me – Definition of terms: As an artist working on an edge of the mainstream, I don’t feel bouyed by the tourism numbers or the broad questions about supporting "arts" and "culture". The 22% of overnight tourists who come to Ontario for “culture” are coming to already very large events (the marketing budget required to reach / appeal to out of towners pretty much gurantees that.) If funding priorities were to shift to maximize the Return On Investment, I don’t think the DIY/indie arts are going to do so well. I also have questionns about whether, when asking about support or participation in culture, how many people were thinking about the Rhubarb Festival and how many were thinking about the Strawberry Festival. Both of these things have value, both are culture but they are very different.

Seeing only what we want to: There are a lot of stats - and framing of those stats - in these reports that don’t get tweeted or put in headlines. For example: 42% of people who attend arts events don’t think those events are good. (“In terms of arts and cultural events, just over half rated the number (53%) and quality (58%) positively” - Heritigage ) All lobbyists do this kind of thing, and when we agree with the position of the lobbyist, we let it slide.

Association is not causation: Men who report going to more culture also report being less anxious and depressed. AND Men who report being less anxious and depressed also report going to more culture. Both of these can be taken from the Norwegian study. An arguement might then be - we should help men be less depressed, because then they'll go to more culture. I know I go out more when I’m less depressed. Going out to ANYTHING may improve my mood. Canadian content or artistic excellence are less a concern - socializing and disruption of negative patterns are doing the heavy lifting. Given that for 42% the experience of culture isn’t good, perhaps this effect is happening despite the art, not because of it.

Biggest Flag

Impact of Priviledge: Personal experience tells me that I feel less depressed and anxious when I have some extra money in the bank account. Also that I’m more likely to buy a ticket for something and go out. To not take the impact of social class and social capital into account seems like a desturbing blind spot, and yet I never see it talked about. I want break downs by reported income and education. I bet those numbers would make me feel pretty shitty about who culture is for.

My personal response to this is to think about ways to work as a citizen to decrease poverty and raise the standard of living and education for the most people. I support Guaranteed minimum income and free undergraduate education. I’m not great at being the activist I wish I was, and worry that by wanting lofty goals I don’t work the steps inbetween.

But I don't think we should be left off the hook on this stuff because our goals are lofty.

More less sexy quotes:

Conclusion:This population-based study suggests gender-dependent associations between cultural participation and perceived health, anxiety, depression and satisfaction with life. The results support hypotheses on the effect of cultural activities in health promotion and healthcare, but further longitudinal and experimental studies are warranted to establish a reliable cause–effect relationship. - Norwegian Health Study

Turning to education and income, arts and heritage attendance as well as personal involvement in artistic activities increased with respondents’ level of educational attainment and their annual household income. In addition, university graduates and respondents from higher income households were more apt to hold positive attitudes toward arts and culture, attribute importance to the arts in terms of quality of life, and feel their local arts and heritage facilities contribute a lot to quality of life in their community. - Heritage Survey p iii.

Maker - Artist as Producer Pt 2

Maker notebookI’ve been thinking about maker culture and theatre lately.

Briefly - “Maker” gets used to describe a hacker/DIY culture that values getting involved in building tech and stuff from the ground up (see: Wikipedia, CBC’s Spark.) There’s a leaning towards digital, robots and 3D printing, but I might toss in the resurgence of craft and reclaimed wood into the broad category.

There’s also lots of stuff around on “artist as entrepreneur” (like a whole magazine issue) and while I get the angle and think it can be helpful to bust up the entitled bureaucracy of Not-For-Profit conservatism, there is something in "maker" that draws me in. It resists the Always Be Closing, money driven image that entrepreneur calls to mind – but mostly making sounds more like what I want to do with my life. I’ve had a DIY value set since the beginning1 and I want to continue that, even as my ambitions grow.

There are questions of course: barriers to entry (knowing how to code) and orders of mystery (I don't want to have to make everything I use) and the fact that maker cultures are often amateur and/or supported by day jobs. But it’s a frame that I find helpful right now. And want to acknowledge more.

Making theatre, as I imagine it, is led by curiosity and a desire to put things in the world that make it better. It’s dedicated to human scale and connections. It’s social and accessible in the doing and the seeing. It's resourceful and cunning, ethical and generous.

An important part of maker culture that I’m missing, is the getting together. Toronto theatre big as it is, has all the problems of Toronto, big as it is.3 We’re busy, we’re trying to get by, we’re moving around and staying in our hoods. There are festivals and openings, conferences and professional development opportunities, but making needs something a bit different - it needs hackerspaces and meet ups. Something more open and announced than drinks with friends and less formal and certainly less expensive than associations and conferences in swank hotels.

It needs a bar night.

So, let’s make one. - Next Thursday - January 24th. Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton). Anytime after 7. They have drinks and some food for sale. (and some pinball) CLICK HERE for more info/let me know you’re coming.

Everyone is welcome. I talk about theatre in this, but think there are shared issues with dance makers, music makers etc…) No agenda or structure. Social and led by desire.

It's that easy if we want it to be.


  1. My parents were back to the landers and both did a lot of starting things. Halifax was a pretty boring place for a teenager, so fun had to be made. At university I was given the tools2 and as a young artist there was little was little option. I was (am) too contrarian / scattered / picky / impatient etc… to be a very good assistant director or to work my way up some ladder of approval in the established theatre. So the only option was to make and produce my own work. This has, almost to a fault, continued.(Yes, there’s a footnote in this footnote. Linearity is hard.) ?
  2. At SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts, there are a series of courses on Playmaking. In my day that looked like a semester of intro to story structures, Aristotle and writing alone and in groups, a semester of Clown-through-Mask with Penelope Stella, then Black Box, a class making a new show of short works every two weeks (more come soon - I’m looking to do this in Toronto - email me to keep informed) and finally an advanced story structure class. These courses and the general ethic of the school at the time undeniably shaped my values on this. ?
  3. Probably not unique to Toronto, but the scale does seem to impact. ?

Minor Expletives - Episode 1 - Emotion, Populism and making performance

Yes it's true, after day dreaming about it for quite a while, I'm launching an irregularly regular podcast. It will be a home for talks, a series of interviews that launch from the Conversation Starters (put guest requests in the comments) and beginning to make performances for the "radio."I'm starting with my talk at Dancemakers, built from a talk at the  University of Waterloo and the work I did around populism for the Toronto Fringe Festival. It also includes movement towards clarity of how I'm working these days with all the wonderful people I work with.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++ UPDATE

New Subscription stuff coming soon

+++++++++++++++++++++++++


Artist as Producer Part 1

The first in a series of posts I’ve wanted to do for quite awhile - a post-internet, probably more mangled with logistical concerns, response to Walter Benjamin’s Author as ProducerSheila Heti’s Back to the World post on artists talking art is worth a read (click here), but a useful sample to start us off is:

I think it’s the wholesale infiltration of concerns about money and commerce into art that leads to art’s withering on the vine, not direct and serious conversation about how to make art now. Stop talking about Amazon, for godssakes! For one minute! […] Artists should think about art, and should talk about it together, the same way people agitating for social change should talk about social change together. Would Occupy Wall Street have happened if people didn’t finally decide to put their collective grievances into a public space and talk about them? Art is not frivolous. Art is not a luxury. It moves the world forward… It creates models of possible worlds in opposition to the worlds we live in, which we cannot imagine our way out of without art.

I found it quite convincing, or at least influencing. I can be cranky about art about artists, more because I enjoy the distance provided by metaphor and difference and a hope that the shared distance will create room for others to slip in.[1] Though a dose of narcissism-fear and privilege-guilt shouldn’t be entirely discounted.

Reposting on Facebook caused a little comment thread about the need for theatre directors to get together to talk art and practice without slipping into conversations about money / state of the industry / gossip. This is very important and something I need more of in my life. I’m often the person who takes the conversaton to lack of resources and frustrations, a trate that frustrates me (it’s a fun cycle, can’t you tell?)

So: yes and...


What changes if we embrace that we are in

an era of “artist as producer”? The time in which there was a clear distinction between the creator, producer and distributor is waning in film, comedy, music, publishing.

Theatre in Canada has been slow, artistically reluctant and imaginatively bureaucratic to adopt this, let alone leading or clearing new paths.

If I want to Direct a play - to make an experience I want to share - I need to consider and have real power over a bunch of things historically outside the work of the director. Part of how I direct Antigone Dead People is by choosing to produce it in the Tranzac, by shaping the social frame around the event, deciding how people could buy tickets and for how much. I need to think and be involved in those decisions as well as maintaining the more traditional relationships with performers, playwrights, designers and other collaborators (though those need adjusting as well.)

We’re in a time where a lot of the logistical barriers to the producing work have been lowered. With a Paypal, Brown Paper Tickets and iPhone credit card readers I can deal with ticketing better than most regional and established theatre ticketing services at less cost. I can tell people about the work with honesty and accuracy using Mailchimp and with Wordpress and iBooks Author I can find, curate and distribute writers and sites to curcumnavigate the declining influence of old press formats and rear-guard critics.

All of this, in an age of artist as producer, is part of what I need to think about as a director – because it impacts the reception of the art.

This shouldn’t mean that one person has to do all of this. Artist Producers can (and should) still assemble teams of excited and capable people to work with. People who have different skills, frameworks and passions, but share the values of the work and of the time.


I want to stop seeing scarcity everywhere. I need to stop whining about which regional theatre isn’t doing what I wish they would, I need to stop complaining that by-design-slow government agencies and professional associations can’t keep up with the needs and realities of being an artist now. And I want to talk to other artists about art without talking about Amazon or envious gossip.

But I also want us to recognize that what we talk about when we talk about art is different now than it used to be.

As we go into the next cycle of the Mayan calendar, I want to find the political, personal and artistic potential of being an Artist Producer. Talking about it with others will help.

In future posts in the series I want to talk more about how Artist as Producer might look like and to respond more closely to Benjamin’s article. I would happily take suggestions, comments or questions on any part of this.


  1. Often I’ve used science, science fiction and scientists as my metaphors (Dedicated to the Revolutions, Perhaps in a Hundred Years, Life of Galileo.)

Coversating on the stage

Recently I was asked for some thoughts and red flags for moments of “casual” performance and audience interaction. This is a slightly edited version of what I wrote, in case it can be of use to anyone else.

First, I mostly try to replace “casual” with “conversational” these days, since there’s little about casual about it.

Key (but general) thoughts might include:

Allow - don’t generate. This is a specific kind of improv note really. Let what is happening happen - let it play on the face and body and voice and heart. As a performer, I find my Viewpoints, hosting and clown-through-mask experience helpful in this if dialled way down to awareness and acceptance.

You are always performing There can be a refusal to approach repeatable systems (like jokes or clear language) in a misguided authenticity claim. It’s still a show, you’re still a performer. You have some skills to cope with the craziness of being in front of a crowd and everyone being ok with that. It’s ok to allow those skills as well. (Viewpoints, clown, hosting - as above)

Do unto others. +20% for subjective variation This is part “make the show you want to attend” and part “how would you like it if.” Making Dedicated to the Revolutions (the main experience I have with “audience participation”) - we all agreed that we hated audience participation. Given that, what were we ok with? Mostly the answer was doing things that left the audience members autonomy intact and avoided humiliation that wasn’t requested. Also, Frank was very good at this, so he did the heavy lifting.

Some other lessons learned from Revolutions
Any time we said “Another interesting thing we found while working on this show…”: we shouldn’t have. We cut 15 minutes of that kind of crap after the first run and nobody was sad.

People can make jumps with you, too much work on complicated transition talking is rarely helpful for anyone.

Momentum matters. As does dramaturgical rhythm and drive. These don’t have to look all well-made-play or Canadian “all the threads connect in the end” but think about the experience of the audience and their attention.

Jonathon Burrows: “Not only must things change, but the rate at which things change must change.”

Emotion matters. (important: see “Allow, don’t generate”) The songs carried much of the emotion in the show, but there were other places we let it through and it was important.

If people want to research information, they’ll go to the library (or use google, who are we kidding) - they come to the theatre for something other than that. Maybe: For people, not so unlike them, trying to overcome an obstacle (“how do we talk about progress and science as non-experts”) and being reasonably entertaining while doing it (i.e. caring about the audiences experience)

ok… that’s a long list of generalness. Let me know if it’s useful of if there are specific thoughts.


You can also join me in seeing Architect Theatres' This is the place: The CN Tower Show at Theatre Passe Muraille (click here for more) to see how they dealt with things like this. I had a great time this summer with Georgina and Greg and am looking forward to seeing what they all came up with.

More on storytelling.

This is a long removed continuation of the conversation with Holger. But takes no account of the comments section which looks really good, but editing this post is more procrastination than I can afford.

For the other ways I deal with theses questions:
- Please join us at Koerner Hall any time (come and go) between 1:30 and 4am on Nuit Blanche for Small Wooden Shoe Reads Difficult Plays and Sings Simple Songs. We'll be reading Gertrude Stein plays.
- Antigone Dead People tickets are now on sale. Click here to buy


I became an interesting tackling dummy.

I don’t know that many, looking at my body of work (with Small Wooden Shoe, Public Recordings and Dancemakers) would find an ongoing defence of narrative - though it’s true, I often like people narrating things. I like to watch and listen to people reading things. I like radio, podcasts, audiobooks - and I like it on stage - live and in process. This is not a global position on “What Theatre Is” – it is a preference. And I hope that with the correct application and approach, this preference can do something for me and for the other people who see the work.

But I find myself defending and promoting a kind of “story telling” - in large part because when I hear: “‘storytelling’ is reductive” - my reaction is about power. That it is a patronizing and “palace” response - dismissing the folk and the clear - privileging the refined (paid for) and exclusionary.

I used to champion the self proclaimed elitism of Howard Barker - and there is much in his writing I still respond to.

But in terms of cranky old Brits, John McGrath has taken over. This is, in some ways, a return. I think I might be happier if I could go back to Barker. Or if not happy, at least self-satisfied. There is something so cozy and reassuring in his writing. The way it soothes us that we, Theatre Artists, are so special - so much smarter and more right than everyone else. In a world where theatre is largely irrelevant this is nice to hear in my head:

“It is the world’s fault. It went wrong - if only we could return it too…[?]” Ignoring that unanswered question, it continues, “The thing that others do, ‘storytelling’ - we don’t do that. We do something holy, something transcendent and nobler. We are above storytelling”

I’m not. I like stories.[1]

I use common language and conversational tones for a reason - I will take their vague-ness and possible critical mis-interpretation over the simultaneous irrelevance-producing and status-confirming of jargon and the overly specific.

Emerging from post WWII European culture - with fascism and Soviet rule as clear examples, it is no wonder that Barker et al (with the continental philosophic backing of Barthes, Derrida, Lacan etc…) looked for art that could separate the individual and break up feelings of “togetherness.” Togetherness and sharing are the domains of the worst kinds of people - Party Members and Marketers. Socialists and Accountants clamour for the full house of laughing people.[link] Real Artists work to make sure each individual understands their solitary psychosis (Bond) or Catastrophe (Barker.) Brecht is replaced by Müller. Clowns are permitted - as long as there aren’t belly laughs. All these angry privileged dudes defending the well educated against the mindless mob.

I’m being reductive and a bit mean. Bitter in the way that only an ex-disciple can be. And I still carry the torch.

But in the end, I have no interest in arguing the nature of dramatic literature.

I am not satisfied with either relational aesthetics or commercial musicals. I understand that the vagueness, repetition and locality of populist strategies have (and continue to have) devastating outcomes for people, environments and movements that I treasure and care for.

But I want to fight against alienation and anomie, no matter where it comes from. I don’t want a togetherness that is without laughter, singing, sex, dancing, kindness and quiet moments.

And that’s the story I want to tell - because it is the story I want to live.


  1. “I like stories, I just don’t like plots” - Harmony Korine in a talk in Torotonto a bunch of years back. ↩

To talk about depression.

I read Jacob Wren’s post on the day I woke up feeling it and wondered about writing about it. About why I don’t.

I take two little pills a day and go see someone twice a week. I try to routinize my mornings and to exercise as part of that. I look for mindfulness training and other strategies. I use a fancy light for 20 minutes in the morning once it starts to get dark. It’s out now as I write this.

All to try to be better. My depression isn’t as severe as some and my pills are pretty low dosage, but they help. It all helps.There are good days and bad days. Sometimes I don’t do the things that help, sometimes I do. There are triggers and things that make it more work -
e.g. arranging rehearsal schedules - a crucial, but to me a difficult and disproportionately fraught, activity that is part of directing a theatre company.

When everything is going well and the projects are fantastic and the people are amazing, and still there are still issues - because there will always be issues[1] - I can edge towards the grumpy and grim.

In a time where I most need my excitement and energy to make these great projects work, with the support of so many great people, I linger and sink into depression. Maybe getting up and throwing the kettlebell around could help. Maybe closing my eyes and just making the calls could help. Maybe volunteering with the AIDS Committee of Toronto can put my shit in perspective and help.

Like Jacob, I sometimes think about depression as a reasonable response to a deeply unjust, alienating and anomic world. I have profound distrust of the pharma industry that developed the pills I take and a historical critique of the psychoanalytic frameworks that my therapist uses.

But they help - and they help me resist and look for alternatives to the unjust, alienating and anomie generating world - at least the small corner of it that I have influence on.

And maybe part of that resistance is talking about it in public a little more.
Living with the values that we use in the rehearsal room:
Admit what’s going on.
Try to help
.


  1. I want in no way to put this on anyone I work with. This is the stuff of life. ↩

On absolutely silly shit

[Doing some Front of House for TIFF really dented my blog production - I'm writing new stuff, inspired in part by Peaches and Joss Whedon, in the mean time, here's something I've been meaning to post for a few years now.]

One of the troubles of Dedicated to the Revolutions (and maybe many Small Wooden Shoe projects) was reconciling some of the big idea thinking with the often absurd, stupid and/or plain silly stuff that happens on stage.

But in this trouble is something important to me – part of the big idea itself.

A goal is to find a big thinking that includes the silly – one a little different from the “absurdism” of the fifties and the Dada of the 30’s - both of which are bleaker and more absolute then what I’m interested in – too close to nihilism / hedonism. That there is silliness and positive movement – that we can recognize and create absurdity and impossibility – and enjoy them – and move on them. (That is, not thinking that everything is absurd or impossible and therefore we shouldn’t act)

Absurdity can paralyze but it doesn’t need to.

And positive action doesn’t need to rule out or ignore silliness.

And the holding up of apparently contradictory positions and moving between them is one of my desires and a large part of Dedicated to the Revolutions. To put together disparate things - not in collage or to generate synthesis. But to propose that they belong to the same ecology - and while that’s tricky, unclear, provisional, temporary and fluid (all those protection words)

it is something we can talk about,

something we can sense (our senses can identify)

silliness/big ideas

art/science

irony/sincerity

all of these things are present and that’s not paradoxical - it’s just true.

Jacob's nerd omnibus #1

Something completely different for the day of finishing grants.

In case you didn’t know - I’m a bit of a geek - Mac and iOS specifically. And I am always, perhaps obsessively, trying to figure out best ways of working in this world of dispersed working and laptops, tablets and phones.

We’re also trying to share this info better, so others can play along and help us improve. I sometimes get asked about the programs I'm using and so thought I’d make a catalogue post. This is cribbed from a document I’m making for collaborators. Questions and recommendations welcome.

Word processing preferences

.RTF

For files with basic formatting or less, please SAVE AS RTF (rich text format.)
My favourite text editor at the moment is Byword.
We are currently in a boom of different text editors which is pretty great, if overwhelming.

For more formatted documents, ideally I’d use use Pages. It’s just lighter weight and easier to use than Word, but .RTF is fine.

Microsoft Word is the last option and only gets used when change tracking is important and not everyone involved uses Pages.

Budgets / Spread sheets

Excel

Excel is the default and I don’t fight that. Though for less complicated things, I prefer Numbers- just easier to work with and less features that I don’t need.

Graphic Design:

Adobe Creative Suite 6

Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Dreamweaver - pricey but as a charity Small Wooden Shoe gets discounted access through Tech Soup.
Thinking about switching to cheaper solutions from App Store.

Mind mapping:

Freemind

My old favourite. Easy idea dumping. Cross platform but not Mac native, and doesn’t export great. So I’ve been experimenting with: Mindnode 
More and more I’m using text files or outlining programs.

Presentation:

Keynote
For slides.

Freemind
For my longer presentations.

Internet:

Minigroup
A light weight online team collaboration tool. It’s a bit like a working social network with posts, links and the ability to comment. We can also create events and tasks (and assign them to other team members) Best of all we can largely use it out of your normal email inbox if you want. best for: - Posting links you find that the group should know about - Works well on smart phones - New program, developers are responsive to feedback. We’re still in progress of developing the systems for this.

Google Docs
For:

  • Files (documents and spreadsheets) under heavy collaborative revision.
  • Once a more stable version is arrived at, an RTF or XLS file should be made in Dropbox
  • Also used for running or quick reference documents:
    • cashflow
    • contact sheets

Dropbox
For:

  • sharing files that are pretty stable
  • Great for reference material and things everyone needs access to.
  • Please inform via Minigroup if there is a change in a dropbox file you need responses to.

Google Calendar and Doodle
Used for scheduling.

Small Wooden Shoe web stuff:

Wordpress
The Small Wooden Shoe website and blog are both Word Press builds with modified templates.

Vimeo
Small Wooden Shoe has a channel and use it to upload videos.

Mailchimp
For Small Wooden Shoe email list.

Eventbrite
For online ticketing. Right now nothing seems to compete. HINT: Charities can get reduced fees.

Skype
For meetings from afar. For meetings of more than 2 people, I prefer instant message chat to voice or video when possible. I just get frustrated easily. 

Skype works best if your computer is wired into the internet. But when does that happen. It also works better with just voice.

Other instant messaging
I like IM, using Adium. I wish there were easy ways to set up an affordable customized messaging with a team that didn’t mean people were also online for chat or Facebook. 37signals has stuff that does that, but are too expensive for us. If anyone has a good solution, I’d love to hear about it.

Other specific things

Scrivener
A great writing tool created by a novelist. Especially for big projects that involve research or reference. Right now I’m finding it an amazing tool for doing script breakdowns as a director. Can export and can import .RTF.

Omnioutliner
Outlining software. Imports and exports RTF and to Scrivener.

Omnifocus
I use this as my task manager. Sadly it doesn’t do my tasks and I’m not perfect at using it, but I’m trying.

Taskpaper
A very light weight task / list app. Great for quick lists and crossing things off. I also use it as an outliner.

MarsEdit
Desktop blog editor, so I don’t need to be online or in-browser while working on a post.

Markdown
I’m trying out writing in Markdown these days it's a keyboard focused way of formatting plain text documents (again avoiding Word.) A fair number of applications support Markdown, especially those aimed at people who write on the internet. For easy reference: 1 Asterix = italic 2 Asterix = bold
# = Header ##= Header level two etc…

ok - that’s it for now. Again, questions and recommendations welcome.

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.

The value of doing something fast

This seems true. And something I'm trying to figure it out in the theatre. (Galileo, What Keeps Mankind Alive)

Beyond the excitement and buzz factor, what’s the value of doing this project so fast?

Magazines don’t have money to pay anyone anymore. A lot of people are expected to invest a lot of time to get published but then don’t get paid very much for their efforts. This was a way for us to get super-talented writers and only ask for a morning of their time. And it was a sort of question in our heads: do you have a higher probability of getting great creative work from people because we made it fun and not burdensome? There was a “let’s make it happen” attitude that I think was really appealing.

via Museum 2.0: Adventures in Participatory Journalism: An Interview with Sarah Rich about 48 Hour Magazine.

Galileo – Not at all verbatim.

These days (or maybe in the days just passing) there is a desire for truth and/or authenticity that gets worked out in verbatim theatre (also dance) - at the same time as these claims there’s backlash when we find out someone was lying and historical accuracy seems important. David Hare has written a nice piece at the Guardian about some of these things.What than to do with Galileo? The correspondence between historical truth (such as we know it) and Brechts’ play is spotty. The timeline is off, the relationship with his daughter is misrepresented – as is his relationship with the Catholic faith and the terms of his imprisonment. As opposed to a bio-play, Galileo is a parable based on a historic character. It can’t let the history get in way of the intent. What the play wants is different. And I support this. The authenticity claims of verbatim ring false for me and adherence to historical facts doesn't map on to the value of a work.

But is there any responsibility to tell the audience this?

Attending a play entitled Life of Galileo, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that what happens in the play also happened to the historical figure. I don’t want to apologize or even imply the play is weakened by its inaccuracies (since it’s strengthened,) but there is a part of me that worries for the reputation of Virginia.

Thoughts on ways of dealing with this?

Who needs who

More from 99 - this time as a guest at Parabasis

it puts into my mind a bigger question: is there a difference between writing to an audience, writing for an audience and writing about an audience, particularly if you're engaged in anything at all activist in your work? And should there be only one audience? Shouldn't a work be able to reach more than one group, provide more than one kind of entertainment? … Not every audience needs every message, or needs it in the same way.

He's referencing some very useful Scott Walters posts — The other night I was at a theatre festival that at the end of the night had a band play. And while I had enjoyed my night before the band, watching the band I started to think about who needed who. (As opposed to who made who - also a great question)

In the first few moments of the performance, it became clear to me that I needed the band. I needed the way the singer sung and the keyboards got played. I didn’t know, before they started, that I needed them - I knew some friends liked them - but I didn’t know I needed them.

And I had a feeling that they didn’t need me as much as I needed them. And that that was as it should be. I was, in that moment, sick of being needed by the shows I see, by the performances of those shows. [This all sounds terrible, I know that - but I need to track out this feeling.] That I had needs (dammit) that I didn’t even know, and what I really needed was for some performance to come out and meet those needs.

Maybe the devastating scarcity (funding, audience, fame, lunch-money) and desperate need for self-expression/exhibitionism to ward off alienation results in shows in which the creator “needs to say something” “needs to express” him or her self.

I want to be in shows in which something needs to be said - not for the well-being of the maker (though that will always be part of it) but also, and most importantly, for a need that is outside the maker. For a need in the public - who are sitting in the audience - who include me.

There is a crazy ego in these statements - I get that. But no one decides to - willingly, often - step out and speak in public without a fair dose of ego.

And I need to be clear that I want avoid patronizing and talking down. Because nobody needs that. So any real consideration of the needs of others removes patronizing - removes any desire to prove superiority - removes all non-consensual power games. Because nobody needs those things. Really.

And so, rather than an ego that is about exposure or dominance, the play of needs might be about consideration and kindness (when sometimes a splash of cold water to the face is the kindest act - this isn’t about only soothing or not saying hard things)

This is all fine to say - but what does it look like? A certain confidence. A certain care and craft. Some leadership and vision. Self-reflection and observation of the world around us. Because I don’t think my needs, honestly examined, are so unique or special that others won’t share them. But this will lead to some bold, scary moments. For everyone involved.

I’ve wandered and rambled from the original posts, but still think the wanderings are related - the need to have a great conversation with the local grocer is a very similar to the need theatre fulfills for me. Good ideas, good will, good time.

Whenever my theatre has failed it’s been by forgetting what I actually need from the theatre. Both as an audience and a maker.