Brighton Dome’s first First Friday: a celebration of not knowing

On Friday I went to the first of a new event run by Brighton Dome on, as its title suggests, the first Friday of every month. I didn’t know what to expect and apparently neither did they which, according to playwright Stephen Clark chosen to offer a provocation for the evening, is a very good thing.

The event is designed as a space for those (many) creatives of Brighton to climb out from wherever they’ve been hiding and actually interact with each other. It’s a great and much needed thing; a conversation I’ve had many times is about the lack of creative collaboration in Brighton where apparently there are many out of work creatives residing. Not that you have to be out of work to go to these things, just that they may prove extremely beneficial to those of us not working in our chosen creative sector.

Anyway this event had minimal awkward moments where you find yourself alone by the nibbles (always a fear with ‘networking’ events) and more than enough interesting conversation, and provocations, to outweigh all this. First Fridays is something that should definitely continue to run, be attended and developed. I’m particularly intrigued as to what next month’s provocation will offer.

Clark spoke in a wonderfully engaging and listenable speech about the need to celebrate those ‘I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing’ moments in the creative process. A need, in fact, to identify this feeling as a vital part of such a process. What I particularly liked was the suggestion of a parade for people to join in admittance of the fact that they have no idea what they’re doing. I’d like to see how such a parade would operate, who’d be in it and how would they proclaim their state of not knowing? Would there be T-shirts, slogans, placards?

Parades aside, it’s refreshing to hear someone proclaim so openly that most of the time they don’t have a clue when at the moment it seems to make any sort of theatre you need to fill in about a million forms asking you to state who you are and what exactly it is you’re doing. Oh yes I’m aware of the difficulties in judging what art should be funded/supported in any way, and that often such forms are the only way to deal with such issues, but sometimes it does feel that defining who you are and what you’re doing is a prerequisite to getting anywhere. Even before you’ve properly decided where you’d like to go.

Do we have to operate such border control into the realm of theatrical exploration? A realm that should be playful and (as the name states) explorative, a place for getting lost and finding a direction in the process and if policed anywhere it should be at the exit. Even applications for nights of work in progress often don’t allow you to not know what you’re doing.

But there we go, it’s a hard old thing to figure out, but at least other people are admitting to the state of not knowing. Perhaps we should start running an ‘I don’t know’ night, artists could meet up and skirt around the issue of their work whilst being indecisive with their drink of choice at the bar.



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