Today’s world offers us a wide range of possibilities for developing personally, growing our business, or improving our creativity. Everyone has access to learning almost anything. Simultaneously, our available time for diving into such topics has reduced enormously. Most of us live at a fast pace that asks for goal-orientated, quick solutions. The result is that we tend to seek easy, ready-made templates that tell us, for instance, which diet to follow, how to become successful, how to lead a happy marriage or how to communicate effectively. Promising solutions can be found easily: “Sixpack in 30 days”, “3 steps to playing piano like a pro”, “How to boost your business today”.
These kinds of instructions were also the first idea for my book „Collaborating Backstage“. I wanted to come up with a collection of recipes for exchanging backstage, such as „how to communicate with a composer, with a choreographer, with a costume designer, and so on. Halfway into my research, I had to accept that I would never achieve this goal – due to two reasons:
All productions are the same?
For once, every stage production is completely different regarding its conditions, requirements, goals, budget, target audience, network, and setup. As a consequence, similar positions might encompass unequal assignments. Many performances, for example, are supported by individual light and sound technicians. But in others, the two roles are performed by only one person. In even other productions, the “sound” department alone is divided into several segments and representatives. As a result, these different job allocations make it impossible to draft a fixed recipe for a department exchange.
All people are the same?
Secondly, creativity and communication always involve the interplay of human beings that are anything but the same. Every personality carries along a different expert knowledge and uneven experiences even if they find themselves in a similar professional position. Working with individual characters effects our communication as well as the creative inputs we give or the language we should choose. Some people prefer strict guidelines while others seek artistic freedom. Some work with images, others with lists, sounds, or personal associations. Occasionally, it might be helpful to create as a group. Other times, it is more goal-orientated to establish an idea alone. There is just not one best solution in creativity because the paths towards a new performance are as varied as the people involved.
Giving chances for individuality
A „recipe“, therefore, is only applicable to standardized procedures that might be carried out by humans but don’t involve their input – like baking a particular cake for example. As soon as personal factors come into play, we need to acknowledge that there can’t be an all-encompassing recipe. This might sound shattering at first, but elaborating adequate ways for each cooperation not only improves our communication, it also enables our show performances to become innovative and unique, far away from standardized, same-looking productions.
If you are interested which creative instruction I ultimately came up with, check out the T.I.M.O.-technique in my book “Collaborating Backstage”. It presents you with a straight guideline that still allows individuality and artistic freedom.