Getting Underway: The Art of Swift Feedback

Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

Producing a show is a pretty fun experience, but it makes one realize – for all the technology in the world, if you want quick, productive feedback, nothing beats face to face meetings. I can think of no place more productive in terms of time spent than in a face to face collaborative meeting.

Now, I know there are nay-sayers out there – I’ve read Dilbert, after all – but in a super-collaborative process like theatre, face to face is vital. Now, granted, it’s not AS productive as the time one spends by oneself getting a task done, but for hashing out details, straightening out confusion, and getting everyone on the same page, the meeting just does it.

Granted, I have comparisons that I can make – other modes of discussion, for example. I find that, if its in writing, people will take more time to respond to it. If a meeting is verbal, the response is much swifter, and allows for a quicker flow of ideas.

In terms of collaborative clarity, here’s my hierarchy (best to worst):

-In Person Meeting (if there can be food/drinks there, so much the better). Everyone can see full expression from everyone else in the group, and there’s a sense of general commitment that comes with physical presence and generates, so far, a positive feeling.

– Skype/ Phone conversation – This is radio communication, basically – remote discussion. Very useful, very clarifying, very immediate. Not as fun or as personable as the in person meeting, but still very useful.

– Email. This is kind of a crapshoot. The shorter the email, the less info. The longer the email, the less someone will read. The least investment makes for the easiest upkeep but also means that it will inevitably get lost in an inbox.

– Texting. This is pretty much a precursor for any other kind of collaborative process. Short, sweet, to the point, not as strong a medium as a phonecall, with even less commitment than an email. Also, a crapshoot. This and the email can take the most time to get a bounceback response.

Granted, all these aspects are useful for collaboration and planning. But seriously, I really enjoy the social aspect of the meeting. It’s a wonderful excuse for friendly business/ arts folks to get together and hang out, while still getting things done.

I think basically this is a giant rant about how much I enjoy working with my artistic staff and marketing team.

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