More messiness (Day 185/365)

I continue reading A Perfect Mess, and now it’s actually proving useful.

[from A Perfect Mess, p. 168]

University of Milan researcher Mario Benassi refers to spin-up-friendly companies as “modular” companies, and espouses three basic principles for them: growing in pieces instead of holistically; being as quick to shrink or get rid of logy pieces of the company as to invest in the promising ones; and being prepared to reorient its efforts around any of the pieces.

Growing in pieces:

We’re already “growing in pieces,” I think: working on three songs from the entire work as a visual sample for our potentially “uneducated/unimaginative” audience. However, I think we can do more in this direction and have it benefit us.

For example, what if those of us who are working live in the workshop begin to come up with elements that we needed, say the Sun or Moon disks for Sun & Moon Circus, and then posted those needs on the webpage for those non-live participants to take over?

In other words, on Tuesday night we decide to go with a combination of Laura’s two-sided Sun/Moon disk which then splits apart into two separate 10-foot disks for the Circus portion. We post that on a William Blake webpage called Things We Need. Diana reads it on the webpage and decides that’s something she can do, so she emails us and lets us know. (Ignore the fact that we have no budget for the moment.)

Diana sketches out a couple of possibilities, posts them to the Vyew page [room ID 067760] or emails them to Dale and he posts them to the site. Soon we reach an agreement on the design, and Diana builds these items, following a schedule we’ve hashed out at the same time. Meanwhile, the live workshoppers are moving on with other ideas and items.

Of course, this only works if everyone out there is reading the blog and is committed to helping out in fairly concrete ways.

As quick to shrink as to grow:

As we begin actually build these three works, it’s going to be ultra important for us to be incredibly “messy,” in that we need to be able to step back and say, “Maybe this isn’t working.” We need to be able to abandon a puppet or costume or idea without regret, even if it’s perfectly lovely and took a lot of work (and worse, money, which we don’t have.)

Or perhaps we have two things going on in a piece as we work on it, and they conflict. We may decide to let one take over the whole piece rather than trying to reconcile or juxtapose that conflict.

We just don’t need to work with tunnel vision.

One way to keep us fresh, maybe, is to videotape something we think is fairly solid and use that to clarify our approach.

Reorient efforts around any piece:

As we continue to work towards the May performance, I’m sure we’ll do this anyway, swinging our focus from one of the three pieces to the next from week to week or even hour to hour. It should happen pretty naturally as we find ourselves grinding to a halt on one piece, fresh out of ideas or materials, and turning our attention to one of the others.

All in all, I think we’re probably a model modular company at heart, but it seemed useful to me to be able to use these three principles as a framework for what we’re doing in workshop. I’m counting on commentary to move this idea forward.

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