Unlocking Creativity – a vital Role of the Producer

Each week I am looking at my work and my path to starting the Diploma in Creative Producing in November.  Yesterday I received our first completed application and assignment, and I am awaiting a number of others.  I am delighted by the interest in CGO Institute and the ways in which the organisation may develop training globally in many different fields of the theatre/events over the next few years.  The first of our new short-courses for senior creative practitioners is now with one Country for potential bi-lingual delivery.

Each aspect of my life, and I believe the lives of most producers, resolves around unlocking and then realising, or supporting the realisation, of a vision.  At this time of lockdown an inspiring yoga instructor in Clapham is using the simple question – what can you unlock in lockdown?

This week I undertook 16 tutorials with 4th year graduating theatremakers who are locked down and trying to make their final showreels (without live showcase, kit or mates), websites, and professional cv’s. They have done good innovative work – why not film a monologue in a bath (clothed but trapped), where the speech reflected the struggle of this time of lockdown. That theatremaker was unlocking their potential with a propped up iphone and a first try at using imovie. 

This time for these 16 people is intense as they hand in their work away from campus and each other. For some the motivation is immense to get on with the planning for their theatre companies, but for others there may be a creeping sense of lethargy and pointlessness in it al after the rush of deadlines.

The role of the producer with these aspirational theatremakers is to help them see opportunities and understand that there are ways to make connections with other locked down folk who, in time, may be the casting director, agent, producer or director they most need.  We as creative producers can help them unlock their possibility to be creative.

The Creative Producer must be, sometimes, pessimist and pragmatist – raining on the parade of uncontrolled, unrealistic, unaffordable ambitions of another creative. But sometimes, and in fact now more and more times, we need to be optimist and enabler.

No work, no money, nothing in the diary, and nowhere to go can be debilitating. And we have to give ourselves a hug, and time to be kind to ourselves. But then the creative producer can help others to help themselves with harnessing the creativity of the slightly crushed.  We have each other. We have zoom. And for once in our lives most of us are in the same boat in terms of work/fees/projects for the next few months.  So we can invent together.

On Tuesday it is Producers’ Pool monthly meeting where 25-40 of us will share experiences and look forward. From this meeting will come confirmation of some regional Producers’ Pool networks which have been bubbling. Places where producers can talk more locally and regionally about the uncertain future. And then later in the week I do my first open workshop/Q&A with a University drama society and local arts community. Under the banner “Producing, Proper Job, Honest”, I will be meeting many in the cloud who would normally be around the Exeter campus. I now have dates in Durham and Edinburgh and look forward to more invitations.

So producers one and all – think how you can use your skills for unlocking creatives, networking, idea generation, listening to the next generation and peers, and making stuff happen to help anyone out there who is slightly crushed by lockdown.  Let’s continue to share great stories of small achievements through CGO Institute, UK Theatre Producers, and Producers’ Pool pages on Facebook and through Twitter and other outlets.

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