Telling stories with imagination.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Lessons from Metta

After an awesome couple of years it's time for me to step down as Executive Producer for Metta. Since I started working with Metta, we've staged 111 performances of 8 shows in 17 different venues. It's impossible to do that much theatre without learning a thing or two, so I thought I'd use my last blog for the company to note down a few of the key lessons here.

i. Sometimes you just have to go with things
It's useful to plan. In fact, one of the final things I've been doing with Metta Theatre is working with Poppy & Will on a business plan. But there are moments when serendipitous situations arise and present opportunities that shouldn't be passsed by. Our 2010 production of Otieno was like that - we were suddenly presented with a script, a space and eight weeks to produce a show. It didn't fit with any of the versions of the plan that year. We didn't have enough time. It was a crazy thing to do. So, of course, we did it. And it turned into a brilliantly successful and hugely satisfying piece of theatre.

ii. The importance of food
Every show starts with a communal meal, every company meeting finishes with a loaf of home-made bread. I know Poppy has blogged before about the value of communal eating to help create a cast bond, to build a community by socialising together in a family environment. It sets the tone for rehearsals. And everyone works better when they know that a plate of home-made dahl is just round the corner.

iii. People do actually want to help
I've been overwhelmed time and time again by how generous people are, with time, with skills, with energy and in loans or gifts. We've been lucky enough to receive free fruit, be lent a computer and have been given 60 science stools, to name just a few instances. I've discovered that there can be incredible levels of support out there for small companies, and no organisation has ever objected to being asked, even if they can't help.

iv. The importance of of compassion
It's what Metta means and it's what we've always tried to build into every show and into all of our working practises. It may be a little naive to hope that theatre can change the world, but some of the work we've done has shown me how it can widen people's views and help make new connections. Equally as important as what you create is how you create it, and I have always valued the respect and warmth of the relationships that have grown out of the work.

If I can take these four ideas with me on my next adventures then I think I'll be set to have a very happy future.

I can't wait to see what happens next for Metta, as I know they're a company who have the drive and passion to achieve many more amazing things. Although I won't be a permanent member of the team anymore, I'll always be cheering from the sidelines and wishing them the very best of luck. And hoping to be offered a slice of that home-made bread.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you - as lessons go, these have to be some of the most human, and most useful. x