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 d.school 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 d.school's own Launch Pad, with teams of artists presenting their visions for their productions.
 
We may have a way of testing the d.school 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.