We love to talk, Bob Hoskins said all those years ago, and it remains true today. We talk on the phone and chat on Skype. We listen to others talking, on the radio, online and on the TV, whether they be news readers, politicians or Simon Cowell. And when we are not engaged in conversation we feel the need to give our opinion in 140 characters or less. This is all part of human interaction and it is often through discussion and debate that we discover our own opinions, and have greater unity with those around us.
However, it could be said that there is sometimes a little too much conversation and not enough action. Quite often seminars within the arts can fall into this category. Anyone who has attended the brilliant Devoted and Disgruntled open space forums, will know how fired up a community can get when interrogating issues within the arts. Equally, I have sat and listened to a few key note speakers who have genuinely changed my outlook and professional practices. Yet, it must be said, that often you can attend conferences, and listen to the same ideas and the same conversations, time and time again. This is where I felt Write Lines, one day conference hosted by Theatre Centre, had a refreshingly different perspective.
Write Lines was a conference for writers. Not industry leaders, not government officials, but people who write, or want to write, and create exciting work for young audiences. As a result, instead of conversations circling around issues of funding, programming and the wider arts industry, we were offered workshops in adaptation, verbatim theatre and alternative methods of building stories. Here was an opportunity for professionals to focus and improve on their own creative practice and to share it with others.
As a devisor rather than a writer as such, I was fascinated to discover the great variety of working practices with varying outcomes. In the break times people engaged with one another discussing projects, offering advice and experience. I overheard one impromptu troubleshooting session, where a young writer was having problems with structure. It was exciting to feel a part of an artistic hub working together. I was also greatly enthused by the desire for many writers to collaborate to a greater extent with both performers and young people.
Write Lines was a new venture for Theatre Centre, a producing house celebrating its sixtieth birthday with this event. However, with the focus being on the writers themselves, this conference has the potential to develop into something unique and exciting for the wider creative community, on what can for many, be quite a solitary process. I believe it is fair to say that other seminar organisers might benefit from putting the emphasis on action and skills development in order to help fertilise our arts industry.
Photo by Flickr user photosteve101 under a Creative Commons Licence.