Telling stories with imagination.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Devoted & Disgruntled

I spent the weekend at Improbable's brilliant and inspiring (and life-changing) event Devoted & Disgruntled. This was my first year, but it's been going for six years now and I have never participated in a workshop that left me feeling so uplifted, inspired and energised. So what's it all about?

Basically it's a discussion forum for anything relating to theatre and the performing arts, but when I say relating to...that's a pretty generous description. There were sessions discussing theatre and surfing and indeed I facilitated a session titled 'Hooray'* so I would, and have been, recommending it to anyone and everyone, not just theatre folk. The premise is that you sit in a massive (there were 350 of us this year) circle, and if you have something you want to discuss you walk to the middle of the circle write it on a piece of paper, read out your title to the room, and stick it to the wall. Then you all break off into separate groups and people go where they want, and follow the discussions they want to follow. There are 4 principles:

  • Whoever comes are the right people.

  • When it starts it starts.

  • Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. 

  • When it's over, it's over.

    And one law - the law of two feet, or the law of mobility, which means that if you're bored you can walk away (and go join another group). Basically, if at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing: use your two feet and go somewhere else. But the magic of these principles (and possibly because of the great charsima of Phelim McDermott who facilitates the whole thing) is that it creates an incredible atmosphere of openness, generosity and no ego - so you have amazing discussions and come up with some really practical and use-able ideas and then also discover that you've been nattering away to the head of the Arts Council, or whoever. So it is also, incidentally, an amazing networking event - but it doesn't feel like networking because it's more about making real connections than schmoozing.

    As a young theatre company it was brilliant to meet other young companies/directors, all of whom are there to share their knowledge and experience and not to hide it. And the principles/law (which comes from Open Space Technology) are extendable beyond the two day event - I think they will become instrumental in the future running of Metta and of my life.

    So I am now evangelising left, right and centre about D&D. But if your curiosity has been even a little piqued then check out the website and go to next year's event. Whether you work in (and life for) theatre or just watch the occasional theatre you won't regret it.

    * It was about optimism and positivity, and I would like to think at least a few people left feeling a little happier because of it.
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