July 2015

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July 2015

News From David Grindle, USITT Executive Director


Projection Designer Wendall Harrington

We do love that word in our industry. It brings images of everyone working together to bring life to great ideas – a finished product that reflects a little bit of every person’s input.

We have also worked with people who believe “collaboration” means doing it their way...

True collaboration, in its best forms, bears more resemblance to the romantic, first definition. This happens most easily when everyone realizes that true collaboration means an open exchange of ideas and a desire to expand our understanding of one another. Perhaps that means we change our view of things because working together brought out new thoughts that challenged the old ones.

Collaboration means learning how one group of people do something so you take an idea or two of theirs to improve the work that you are doing. And they can adapt some of your point of view and incorporate it into their thinking.

All of this is fresh in my mind because I’ve witnessed some incredible collaboration in our organization lately. There are obvious examples, such as the Praque Quadrennial exhibition that just closed in Europe. The US exhibition (which you will see in Salt Lake City) is the work of many -- with ideas and input from everyone who touched it. I mean that quite literally, since it is interactive in areas. That collaboration brought people together who might never have worked together. The interaction between the people was incredible, because it was “open source” design and execution.

I’ve watched our elected leadership get together and bounce ideas around a table in ways that were refreshing and exciting. Each person was working for the common goal of a stronger USITT, and that encourages us to continue this incredible forward momentum. Much like improvisational acting, the “yes and” attitude filled the room which creates a great collaboration.

Collaboration is all around us. The recent party to celebrate the Tony Awards shows that everyone can contribute to and build on a good idea. It takes work, of course. It takes a willingness to admit that your ideas “might be brilliant, might be crud, I don’t know.”  At minimum, we should all look for the kernel of value when someone puts an idea forward. It might be an idea for this project, it could be something to use in the future.

Knowing each person brings something, even if it is naiveté to ask a question so simple and innocent it helps everyone refocus, means seeing value in those around you.

Seeing that value is the first step that has led us to those great recent collaborations.