At DandD7 this weekend I was exploring in one of the 100+ discussion groups the belief that we often learn best from people with flawed/failed experiences, rather than from the books/seminars/speeches from the rich and rewarded. I was reminded of the first time I was asked to be on a panel at a TMA Conference (1982 or 3).
It was about accessible transport and tourism schemes. Two speakers – Peter Harlock – the phenomenally successful director of marketing of the RSC with their amazing bus scheme, and me with my Plymouth Theatre Royal Theatrebus scheme…which had been a flawed but honourable trial project. The convenor of the panel told me off-stage that he was pleased to have me there because I was one of the few people he could invite up who was willing to talk about failure !!! I took that as a compliment. I have talked about failure, challenges, lessons-learned, and “oh god did we really do that” for the next 30 years. I hope the stories have usually had some resonance with the listener, and I continue to have the “oh noooooooo” moments that I can share.
I set myself (and others at DandD) a challenge. Share failure (flawed plans, mis-fired enthusiasm, wrong-headed ideas, and lessons learned) – in the hope it will be useful to the next generation.
I intend in the next few blogs to offer:
a) Theatrebus – still getting it wrong financially, but getting great press
b) £1m offer to put on a studio musical – whoops, the money has slipped away
c) Beware the influence of the Board members offering you the perfect man-for-the-job…check his trouser leg
d) A handshake with an Asian project creator – where the offer seemed so perfect
e) Not quite enough sponsorship…so you sell your soul a tad too much
f) Oh help…the show’s nothing like our marketing campaign
g) No way will that show sell, forget it…and it goes on to being a smash hit (thank god noone trusted my opinion)
I am sure I will find a load more to offer to my colleagues. Do you have some stories to add to the catalogue of moral grim tales. I look forward to partnering up with 4-5 brave “elders” to share a wealth of stories. And I must must add – no regrets….I did it my way, and I will continue to do so. I have always said that I will make a decision 100% of the time, and 75% of them will be right. This series of blogs may share a few of the 25% which were decidedly wrong.
I remain in love with the magic of theatre, trusting my own instincts, always willing to learn from others – and now very willing to tell my colleagues (and those who come after) a few of the times I got it spectacularly wrong.
Stories to follow