Wednesday, 29 February 2012

It’s gonna take years: On the virtue(s) of taking your time

Convener: Simon Bowes

Participants: Joanne Hartley; Steve Ryan; Bethany Pitts; Alex Lehman; Matt Ball; Daniel Pitt; Ros Williams; Maddy Costa: Dachel Davies; Steve Pitman (and others); Greg McLaren

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Note that the session was called to try and identify a dissatisfaction with two (seemingly pervasive) orthodoxies, the FIRST: Edinburgh-once-a-year-or-you’re-invisible; the SECOND: Scratching-it-will-make-it-better: This is what we come up with: Maybe we NEED urgency – bound up with who you have to ask for the money – gestation periods can be too long (lost-in-gestation!) – “...being okay with your shit ideas” – “we should be practicing all the time” (perhaps a painter who produces one painting a year is automatically going to be a shittier painter than one who produces ten a year) – Scratch culture often ensures that by the time an artist “…considers the work finished, everybody’s seen it…” – Can early-career / emergent artists afford to work privacy? Is there an alternative to scratch that is artist-led, rather than venue-led, fairly enclosed, invitation-only, free, not pay-what-you-can? EXAMPLE Uninvited Guests just can’t do anything quickly (Mr. Dufty and Mr. Clarke have FULL TIME JOBS) – necessitates short, infrequent working patters (presumably with plenty of time for reflection) – they might not be prolific but they maintain their profile and never look seem to look hungry – how do we find dedicated time? – TIME IS ECONOMIC – Who says audiences knows better than artists what the work should be? – Audiences notice things the artist may have overlooked, but often give artists BAD ADVICE about how to develop their work – contrast all this with EXAMPLE Song of the Goat (Poland), or other comparable European companies: length of time spent developing the work permits depth and intricacy – “What’s the life of a show?” / “2 years to make, 2 years to show” / crossing over – “‘time’ is a question of efficiency…” – “wider than one individual process” – “there is no ladder to climb” – “…we’re not footballers (only as good as our last game)|” – No! – “…We’re as interesting as our entire body of work…” – but if let’s say, the reviewer / writer sees a bad one, they might miss a show or two before they go back – WRITING ABOUT THEATRE – “…you’re as good as the last thing you did and the thing you’re going to do next…” – is it possible to write to support a work / artist in another way? – getting a little review (well-starred or not) isn’t always that helpful – “…I’m discovering that I’m a slow thinker and a slow writer…” (becoming Okay with that) – SPILL Festival salons/ dialogues / ‘stings’: commissioned writing – all pretty encouraging – cut – EXAMPLE: “…Frayn had a five year hiatus before ‘Copenhagen’…” – MONEY BUYS TIME – but fuck the money – “…you have a duty of care to the work…” (you have a duty of care to the audience) – long timeframes permit continuities, sustaining the discourse around the work (documentation, critical thinking) – “…the little commitments make up The Big One…” – if we want to slow things down, there’s a value in that…if we make the process part of the show…a long process doesn’t necessarily mean a slow process – “the luxury of time” – “…we’re working in an industry where everyone wants to be working in that industry…” – “if you’re going to do something, really fucking do it” – “…if you can do it for £300, try getting 6…” – talking about getting Lyn to see your stuff: “…be sure that you’re ready to invite me along…” – A CULTURE SHIFT of TAKING YOUR TIME – generosity towards emerging artists (or: to an emerging / developing work, even if it’s made by an old artist) – giving time to something can buy you out of that economy EXAMPLE: Simon from Rough Fiction – a permanent ensemble, by consensual agreement – free space donated by the Actor’s Centre, for six hours every Saturday – core artists working on skills, founded in an open space, leading to a deep sense of collectivity – nobody got paid – has resulted in a finished show developed over eighteen months, equivalent of nine weeks of rehearsal spread out – in some circumstances the work itself is its own reward – what else are you spending / investing in, if not time – some kind of TRIANGLE DIAGRAM, like an equation Quick = Money, Good = Time – yeah: it can’t be cheap AND good AND quick! –  you’ve got to GIVE THE PROJECT WHAT THE PROJECT ASKS OF YOU – “…long time-frames are all well and good, but you’ve got to have outcomes, and you’ve got to stand by them…” – the work asks you: what kind of artist do you want to be

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