Monday, February 4, 2013

There Is No 'I' in Collaborate: Open Space 12th Feb / New Writing Competition Announced

My name is Alison Farina and I am the Artistic Director and founder of the new-writing theatre company Butterfly Psyche Theatre.

Butterfly Psyche is dedicated to the production and performance of new writing for the theatre in Bath and the surrounding areas. Our aims are:

·         To promote, produce and create theatre from within the company, as well as in affiliation and collaboration with other theatre professionals or community groups

·         To encourage, enable and train new writers for the stage in a practical theatre environment

·         To create legacy with new writing, the spoken word and performance and to produce theatre that makes an emotional impact

·         Create a memorable shared experience for audiences

·         Encourage oral tradition, by creating stories that are passed from audiences to friends, family and the wider community

·         To engage our audience in subject matter and issues which are often kept behind closed doors

As the Artistic Director, my main objective is to create work of the highest standard where collaborators value each other’s talents, respect the right for everyone involved to ‘own’ the project and to remember that the audience’s appreciation of the piece is the driving force behind the project.

Butterfly Psyche Theatre was started in late 2010. It is an unfunded and very small theatre company based in Bath. I run the company on my own and take no salary. Our work is mostly with new (very green) writers where projects are (to-date) based on Profit Share arrangements.

Profit Share is a fantastic route to making work happen with no outside funding and ensures everyone involved has agreed to participate because they believe in the project. However, Profit Share is not a sustainable way of producing work and can cause complications, confusion and frustration between collaborators.

Although there are guidelines available for working in this way, I have found they do not often provide a good ‘fit’ for productions. There are also Industry Guidelines (ITC, Equity, the Writer’s Guild Working Playwright Booklets, etc…) but they (rightly-so) only protect the individuals who are covered by their discipline.

Personally, I work as an actor, writer and director and I've noticed over the last year that the recommended guidelines established by industry bodies don't often encourage or support the reality of ‘collaborative’ work between these disciplines.

A piece of theatre is produced so an audience will come and see it, engage with it, and be affected by it. It is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. If collaborators work to serve their own part in the production rather than the piece as a whole, then who are we making the work for?

To discuss these and other issues, I've planned an Open Space event ‘There is no ‘I’ in Collaborate’ and invited local practitioners, writers, actors and directors (some we've worked with, some we haven't) to The Rondo Theatre in Bath.

From L-R: Anna Westlake, Shane Morgan and Hannah Drake deep in discussion...

I want us to talk openly about how we can work better together.  I want to make sure that the collaborative nature of theatre is protected and celebrated. And I want to ensure the theatre work environment is a place where quality projects are forged and collaborators respect each other’s' talents and rights.

Personally I plan to use this process to put in place a Production Agreement (informed by these discussions) for us that works effectively to protect all collaborators' artistic input, that best serves the production and that will be flexible enough to grow with the company. But I want this event to have value for the wider theatre ecology for the Southwest, not just for Butterfly Psyche.

The beauty of the Open Space format is that it allows the day’s agenda to be set by the attendees, not the organisers. So my hopes for ‘There is no ‘I’ in Collaborate’ include opening a wider dialogue on the issues I’ve mentioned,  as well as any others that participants have experienced or  any personal objectives they may have for the day.

This makes the event completely unique to the people attending, empowers everyone equally and makes it precisely relevant to the issues. This event also aims to prove we all have a common goal; to create quality, innovative and artistic work based on collaborative working.

This is a free event and has been generously supported by the Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Arts Development Department. Everyone who works in theatre is invited and as the old Open Space adage goes, “Whoever comes are the right people. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. Whenever it starts is the right time. When it's over, it's over.”

The consultation event will take place from 10 - 4pm on Tuesday the 12th of February 2013 at the Rondo Theatre in Bath and will be run as an Open Space Event.

Our Twitter hash-tag is #ThereIsNoIInCollaborate and you will be encouraged to live-tweet at the event. If you’ve attended one of the Devoted and Disgruntled Roadshows this year, you will know what to expect from the event.

If you have not, maybe visit the D&DUK website to see what issues have come up around the regions as well as learning more about the Open Space format. Or maybe visit Lyn Gardner’s Guardian Theatre Blog to get keep up-to-date on what’s happening in Theatre today as well as giving you some ideas on what might affect you personally and that you want to discuss on the day.

All reports from the day will be made available online for information and (if needed) further discussion, but we hope to see as many people there in the flesh as possible.

In addition to the event, Butterfly Psyche and The Rondo Theatre have teamed up to bring a new playwriting competition to the area.

Making Trouble will explore making exciting and new drama for the stage. Its title is inspired by George Bernard Shaw’s words:

"Would the world ever have been made if its maker had been afraid of making trouble? Making life means making trouble."

Without trouble there is no drama, without drama there is no theatre and without theatre, well we don’t even want to go there…

Making Trouble is open to Southwest writers over the age of 18 who have had at least one professional production or script-in-hand performance.

Guidelines are as follows: Your submission -

·         Must not have not been previously performed professionally (although a script in hand is acceptable)

·         Must not need more than 4 actors

·         Must have at least one main role for a woman

·         Will explore the theme of Making Life Means Making Trouble.
First Prize is a full production with Butterfly Psyche Theatre with a two week run covering Bristol (at the AlmaTavern Theatre) and Bath (The Rondo Theatre). There will be two runners up and each will receive a Script-in-Hand performance with actors and a director at The Rondo Theatre.

Scripts should be submitted in an anonymous format attached to an email to and the competition is open for submission from February 5th to March 31st 2013.

Scripts will be read by a team of theatre professionals and the winners will be notified in April. All decisions are final and no correspondence will be entered into, other than to advise receipt of your documents.
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact 
I look forward to meeting you!

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