Monday, September 12, 2011

Notes from the September 12, 2011 Meeting

Many thanks to Rob Raas-Bergquist for taking notes last night. We covered a lot of ground in an hour, with the upshot being we believe the forums are valuable, are planning another tentatively scheduled for October 23, and the projects launched at the August 1 meeting are still moving forward. Individual project notes toward the end - forum discussion up front. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, email me. - JJ

You'll have to excuse my scattered notes, I was trying to capture as completely as possible all the points that were made during this meeting. Feel free to peruse at your leisure.

Seattle Theatre What’s Next: Follow up meeting 9/12/11, 7:00

In attendance: Rob Raas-Bergquist, Jim Jewell, Peggy Lee Gannon, Brandon Ryan, Karen Lane, Dani Prados (called away), Tyrone Brown.

7:10: Talk a little bit about the August 1st Forum:

What really Worked

It worked because we had a very specific goal, what can be the goal for the second time. It ended in actions and the format was engaging. The quick bursts really worked well. There is something about the pacing that keeps people moving and the ideas flowing quickly. It challenged people to consider whether what they were saying was worth saying.

The creation of the group documents worked really well and were filled out in an engaging and complete way. It is really worth it to have the four categories, even though it is hard at times to distinguish between what the categories were defined as. Being forced to define what something is allows people to really understand what they are saying.

The engagement of the crowd worked really well and lent itself to have true group consensus and input.

What could be better.
More conversation about defining values, but it might be a harder thing to focus on because we are action oriented, so it is easier to focus on moving forward toward action. If there is a values discussion it might be much more difficult to get people out. There might be some value to having a smaller group. The people who show up are the people who get to define it. These are the people who want to be involved in defining what the values are. The people who are project oriented might not be as interested in defining what the values are and are more interested in operating based on those values. A value discussion would allow people who aren’t as comfortable being involved in the discussion about action and challenges to be involved in the overall discussion.

Given the rather positive response to the first forum, a values based discussion could likely be more successful. If the promotional messaging stays focused on the positive, we will get more buy from various different constituency. The majority of speakers will likely be at the fringe level. With good reason, the people in the big houses may not be involved because they can’t speak for the entire organization at the project and opportunity conversation, however they may be able to contribute to a value conversation.

Carl Sander on what could be better: Guide the discussion to be more specific. This will allow each speaker to go deeper but not as wide. Maybe everyone has to say what their topic is in three words or less. You could just pick three concept words, or a three word phrase.

Tyrone felt as though he had some things that he wanted to talk about but then was forced to be broad.

Maybe there could be a dry run for a smaller group of people.

More of a debate structure but not a debate (speak and come back up and speak again after a discussion)

If there was a way to make it more of a visual presentation that would be great. Maybe come back after intermission and restate in 25 words the key points of original discussion

Fact checker role is unnecessary.

I believe series on NPR could be a really interesting format for a future meeting.

Because the community hasn’t come together and defined it’s values, it leaves open to interpretation situations like Balagan taking over the Ericcson. The attribution bias is about misunderstanding motivations. Without a discussion of a baseline value system there are far more instances of miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Carl and Jim are talking about doing Petchacucha talks at West of Lenin.

The Next Forum:

Will we have a momentum/project checkin? Yes.

Each of these projects going forward shouldn’t stand alone, they can be a collective motion forward. Always What’s Next. Too busy making theatre to worry about what’s next. As a collective community we can take the momentum and move forward, because there are always people who are able to be involved and commit to the next.

Maybe we can acknowledge what types of people (in terms of specific involvement) are in the room. People who want to helm/lead projects, people who want to enhance projects through ideas/money/time, people who can contribute from the sidelines, etc.

Seattle theatre is about this. What is it ultimately supposed to be? Will we create some document, or a newspaper ad? Maybe we could just identify what makes us unique. There are other ways to get to what our values are? Have we sat down and stated what makes us unique.

Bullet points of values that are easy to digest and easy for people to see.

Having the conversation and disseminating out there as bullet points. Karen Lane thinks that going through the exercise will move us forward more than we have in 10 years.

Possible format for next Meeting
1) Project status report.
2) Value based conversation
3) Intermission
4) Now we have to take those value statements down to a ten word setence and create group document. Someone else can see what you are trying to say better than what you can say yourself. “this is what I am hearing you say” from the audience. There is a group vetting from the members of the community.

Maybe there is a way that someone can say that isn’t a community value, but a personal one.

One time over mimosas and a board member, Karen asked “What one thing excites you about TPS” each person had multiple things. Elevator speech was derived from this exercise. You can have an exciting conversation “What excites you”

Utilizing Google Docs or some such other internet word doc that allows people to read and comment about the values that are determined at the big group meeting. Especially useful for people who were unable to make it to the meeting.

Not use values, use What Excites You or I Believe. What Excites You About Seattle Theatre. What Makes Us Stay?

Project reports: There might be some value to getting group response to the report. It doesn’t have to happen this time, but we can use the larger group to get buy-in and direction from the larger body. Follow each up with Q & A or Brainstorming.

Peggy will be interested to see what has floated and what has not. That will go a long way to figure out what floats. What floats is what we should put our energy into. Let the ones (Projects) go that are dead weight.

Is the “lusty lady project” (Greg Lundgren) something to bring into this conversation? Other outside projects that aren’t influenced by this conversations, can we provide a backbone. It served a great purpose for networking (fellowship).

We can invite any initiative that came out of the group or not to present ideas.

Any time we bring a group of people, we’ve essentially brought an active resource. Use the conversation as a community backbone.

Having a value conversation late in the game can be problematic, as it can create an atmosphere of “that’s what I’ve been working on” and a dismissal of that project. It’s great to flesh out what the variety of opinions are prior to jumping in feet first to a project that one might end up not valuing.

Possible Timeline for next meeting
Are Mondays the best? Lot of classes and events are starting to happen on Mondays. Maybe Sunday nights. There probably won’t be evening performances or rehearsals.

Sunday, October 23rd. Close to the Gregorys. SCT, West of Lenin or TPS. T4. 80 people came to the last one. 3 weeks of notice. People can plan if we give enough notice. Start at 6:00 might be a good idea. The people can get to the bar earlier.

Peggy Moderator. Andy Forrest as well

We can be a little bit more focused this time with a more specific kind of list. It won’t be the four lists but it will be something that is more wide open. We’ll know a bit more going in about how much leeway we have about what the audience is saying. Maybe it just needs a little bit more force.

How do we phrase Participant call.
Jim thinks it is a good idea to get specific people to go come and speak. I am inviting you to to specifically come up and speak. Ideas of people to come and speak.

Projects that have already started.

Community Resource Network is underway. Slow going, but will be worked on over the next couple of weeks. Adding a strike night calendar/rental space information. I (Rob Raas-Bergquist) will be starting with the stock of Ghost Light Theatricals, to create a somewhat standardized formatting for the list. Karen wants to make sure Shane isn’t overstretched, so Rob will be doing the majority of the early work on this. Network will begin to take shape over the coming months and all input is welcomed.

Fringe Festival report. A few small meetings were had, business plans were discussed. This committee is led by Beth Raas, Grant Knutson, Ellie McKay, Ryan Higgins and Jake Groshong. We are asking people to be stewards and not owners. Grant has a business plan for the Portland Fringe Festival. Tyrone requested power point information from Beth’s thesis presentation about the Seattle Fringe. For more information on the business plans please email

Jim: August was a rough month. Local Playwrights initiative. Brandon and Peggy are interested in being involved. Expanding it into workshopping the fringe. Look at the Reps writers group. They have some plans for it but they don’t know what exactly they are going to get out of it. They had 80 applicants, some are strong some are not. That’s a great potential connection of the fringe and the big house. You are putting resources behind this group, but not all of what they have is going to be good. What if they go to that group of writers and set it up with a fringe company that co-produces with the rep. If you have things that you are working on, look at the fringe to get it on its feet. The writers get their work on their feet, the fringe gets more marketing support to fill the house. The large house gets a kind of preview for their stage. Find ways for the big houses to use some of their resources to build outside of their walls.

Peggy “Once the fringe has sullied it, will anyone want it?” The reason they want a World Premiere, there is nothing else to say that distinguishes it. Peggy holds reservations because will they want to produce it? If Katy at the rep gets a play to produce two years down the line.
Critics will have seen it so they can get some pull quotes, there will be some buzz behind it.

Love the idea in theory and cautious about execution. Need more input from the big guys. None of this is to push down the idea at all. It needs to be a really good pitch to the big houses, that approaches needs from all sides. It is about benefitting the playwrights.

Tyrone” You probably are going to run into some of the ‘world premiere’ semantics. It is about developing the piece, regardless of where it starts and ends. If it is done by the fringe company then maybe it has a life outside of Seattle.”

It’s a small step in shifting the paradigm. It most benefits the development process.

Level the playing field. Do more readings. Bring in people who might produce it elsewhere.

Jim is looking at in the next two to three weeks at putting together a meeting about Local Playwrights Initiative.

Karen had a meeting with Craig Bradshaw and Jake about the DPD (Facility Issues). All three went away with research assignments with a goal of coming up with some easy proposals to take to Frank Video and Nick Licata. Things that will be easy to stand on that will be easy to get through. Approach them being on their side. Lets all work together and make it all above board. Talk to them about incentives.

An interesting way to rope on some big house resources, can we bring city type regulations to big boards and have them translate them into artist languages.

Dispersal time at 8:20pm.

1 comment:

  1. As the official fact-checker at the August 1 forum, I agree that the post is unnecessary. As someone interested in building bridges between theater and non-theater people, I do like the idea of a moderator asking for definitions, last names, details that otherwise are only known to long-term insiders.