At its core, theatre is a collaborative art for the simple reason that without collaboration it would be impossible to create and produce a play. Even solo performances rely on a host of behind-the-scenes partners — people with unique skills like set designers, lighting and sound technicians, directors or choreographers, promoters. These collaborators share both a common vision (the performance) and a common world (theatre). As with all professions, the world of theatre comes with its own practices, values, and vocabularies.
As a socially-engaged theatre project, TSDC collaborations necessarily extend beyond the world of theatre. In addition to theatre practitioners and artists, collaborators on TSDC projects include community members who are advocates for their communities and themselves, social service providers and social planners, arts and social science researchers and educators. Each TSDC collaborator brings their uniquely relevant experiential and professional expertise to the project. Each also comes from their own ‘worlds,’ which, like the world of theatre, comes with its own practices, values, and vocabularies.
To add to this complex array of perspectives, our ‘professional worlds’ and ‘institutional worlds’ are also made up of people who walk and live in multiple social worlds. None of these worlds are homogenous. Many intersect. Some, not so much. What’s clear is that differences abound. How then, do we choose to address and value them?
In our experience, this coming together of worlds is both the wonder and the challenge of uncommon partnerships. On the side of wonder, we’ve already discussed some of the ways we think TSDC plays can contribute to our shared vision of including a broader range of voices in public discussions about the future of our Cities. In addition to the plays, we consider the uncommon partnerships that are formed to bring the plays into being as beneficial in and of themselves.
TSDC collaborations bring community and self-advocates, socially-engaged theatre practitioners and artists, social service providers and policy makers, and arts and social science scholars and educators into conversation around shared concerns. These conversations work to expand individual partner understandings beyond each of our institutional, professional, and social worlds. Our hope (and belief) is that this kind of exchange of ideas, approaches, and knowledge advances our shared goal of fostering more inclusive and expansive public conversations about the future of our Cities.
… and the challenges?