“The best collaborations emerge from the recognition of some kind of common grounding between uncommon partners.”
— Pam Korza, co-director, Animating Democracy.
We came across the term “uncommon partners” while reading a book by Jan Cohen-Cruz about socially-engaged theatre projects. It immediately struck us as a helpful framework for understanding the kinds of collaborations that TSDC performance projects rely on and seek to cultivate. Phrases like “It takes a village” highlight pre-established connections among community members. “Uncommon partners,” on the other hand, draws attention not only to the common ground on which collaborations are based, but also to the need to build connections across the uncommon grounds of the project’s collaborators.
While the focus of this chapter is largely on the community agency partners that gather to support the creation of TSDC plays, we recognize that the idea of common and uncommon ground also extends to the multiple relationships within the workshops — between facilitators, community support workers, and workshop participants, as well as among the participants themselves.
The common ground between members of partner organizations who have been involved with TSDC is that we are all seeking to cultivate public discussions about Hamilton’s future that are more accountable to people who are socially marginalized in Hamilton’s present. We seek ethical and effective ways to work alongside the people whose voices and visions are essential to, and mostly absent from, public direction-setting for the City.
The uncommon grounds, on the other hand, are the different social, professional, and institutional worlds of the project’s collaborators, which include:
- Community and self-advocates
- Socially-engaged theatre practitioners and artists
- Social service providers and policy makers
- Arts and social science scholars and educators