Friday, March 23, 2012

Spitballing, Brainstorming, and Rapid Prototyping

A couple of weeks ago, I spent the better part of a Friday afternoon spitballing ideas for an Equity-waiver production of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars with Phillip Kelly and the great Sebastian Kadlecik.  The net result?  Kelly and I are going to look at the book and fiddle around with maybe adapting it.  Maybe.  We both have "so many irons in the fire I can't see the fire" as another friend recently put it.
I bring this up for one very important reason:  Spitballing does not equal "committing to doing something."  In the world of Equity-waver, there's a real risk of opening your mouth to voice an idea, and finding yourself in charge of the committee to get it done.  I wonder to what extent this curtails healthy, robust brainstorming? 
We should really brainstorm with wild abandon, with no strings attached.  Anything less is not a free flow of ideas, and therefore not true brainstorming.  I believe rapid prototyping is the future of small theatre. The free and open flow of ideas facilitates rapid prototyping.

I am fascinated by the methods and techniques used at The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University, or for short, and I wonder how producers of small theatre in Los Angeles might take some cues from Stanford.  The rapid prototyping of "beta" productions would allow a theatre company to present a number of possible shows from which to develop a season, utylizing audience input to determine which shows to produce in full.  I believe these beta productions could be presented in the style of PechaKucha or the's own Launch Pad, with teams of artists presenting their visions for their productions.
We may have a way of testing the approach.  Today they unveiled the "Crash Course", an online series of teaching tools with the following aims:
  • Grow your own capacity to innovate.
  • Allow you to experience something different than how you normally work.
  • Encourage collaboration with interdisciplinary teams; unraveling new perspectives on approaching solutions.
  • Give adults back break time. Participants work with arts & crafts supplies as a way to understand the value of rapid prototyping.
  • Help you put Design Thinking to work immediately following the video via half-day long guided tours through some of our methods, called “mixtapes.”
There is a devil-may-care, DIY ethic at play here that synchs up nicely with theatre.  Surely I'm not the only one who sees it!

1 comment:

Phillip said...

Reminds me a bit of the Sandbox I was trying to institute at the old place. A term and idea I still hold close for a future need.

I've had a similar idea for television. 6 episodes a season, either each episode is a different pilot or you run a show for six, low budget episodes. If the audience loves it and it connects you build it into a fuller series for a second season. Next year you use the slot of six episodes for something entirely different. Using the British/Canadian in connection with the way we approach our series.