Guestpost #2: Peter Dickinson – Ten things I’ve learned from collaborating on a multi-media performance

Peter Dickinson is a theorist, professor, writer, and artistic champion in Vancouver. He was one of my all-time favourite teachers. Here is his wonderful arts blog:  http://performanceplacepolitics.blogspot.com

  1. Always work with folks way more talented than you.
  2. If you’re the writer and ANYONE connected with the show—but most especially the director or one of the performers—asks about your reasoning behind a line or even a single word, you better have a clear answer.
  3. If you’re doing physical theatre that involves significant interaction with props (i.e. dancing on chairs), make sure you have spares. Similarly, if you’re synching projected video images with live action on stage, remember that consistency in timing is only ever going to be a hoped for approximation.
  4. When working across disciplines, be prepared to compromise. And try not to work through your differences in simultaneous and conflicting notes to your performers.
  5. Take the time you’ve allotted for tech and double it. Relatedly, if you don’t need to be around for the tech rehearsal, get the hell out of the way.
  6. Be kind to all crew members. Fetch coffee and food. Rub shoulders. Pay for drinks. Help with set-up and striking—as needed and directed. And never ever make a joke about the stage manager’s new hairstyle just before she is about to call the show.
  7. The lighting designer is god.
  8. If you have no budget for publicity, and you don’t comp the media, you won’t get reviewed.
  9. There will never be enough money. But make sure you save some for a really great party. And if you do have some extra box-office returns, reward your artists accordingly.
  10. There is such a thing as artistic knowledge, a way of imagining and commenting on the world as profound as any version of empiricism. And even though, in performance, the method for communicating that knowledge is ephemeral, just because one’s creative vision must inevitably disappear, that doesn’t mean that those witness to its unfolding haven’t been changed by the process. Every time the house lights go down and we lean into the dark void of theatrical possibility, our bodies are our repertoires.

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