Fergus and I are in London on attachment at the National Theatre Studio for two weeks. We’re spending some much needed time evaluating and thinking about what we learned with Team Effort! and the IF events, seeing shows and exhibitions, talking to brilliant people and generally feeding our brains.
This morning I sent him an article I’d read in the Guardian about DIY theatre and it sparked an interesting debate about work that we call “DIY”. The article is here.
I think DIY is a good name for the kind of stuff that we are interested in making – when taken literally, it means to me – don’t wait for a programmer, producer or boss to put your work on or let you make work. If you want to do it, do it yourself (or, importantly, selves).
We’re both very interested to read the book mentioned in the article and really admire the work of the contributors involved.
Because he’s a clever sausage though, Fergus raised some very interesting questions during our conversation which I’m still struggling to find answers for.
Does DIY, by its very nature, suggest an element of unprofessionalism? If I want to do DIY in my home, it suggests that I will fix the sink myself, instead of calling in a professional to do the job more efficiently.
Does it negate the years of toil, the knowledge of craft and diverse skillset involved in setting up your own space, venue or company? By simply saying “hey! you can just Do It Yourself!”, are we suggesting an element of ease? It’s not easy to just put a show on in the back room of a pub, and it’s not easy to start up your own arts venue.
Finally, wasn’t everything, at some point, DIY? We wouldn’t call the Arches, the Traverse, the Tron or Tramway DIY spaces, but at some point, someone had the idea to put a show on in each of those spaces – to get a group of people together and Do It Themselves. When does DIY stop being DIY? When it gets funded? When it gets staffed?
Answers on a postcard… (or in the comments section below…)