Published
June 5, 2014

Agile FORMations - Agile Theater 2

Last post we spent some time talking about the rational reasons that artists have for starting their companies. These rational reasons bubble up due to systemic issues within the industry itself. Generally speaking, escalating costs of productions force producers of larger projects to create work that there is a known audience for and eschew producing new, messy work that has a seemingly unknown audience. Artists are forced to start their own companies to get their work out there because producers are afraid of producing work that doesn’t appeal to their current audience. Both artists and producers have rational problems and there’s a wide gulf between them.

Form intends to bridge this gap by experimenting with a lean and agile way to produce theater.

This summer we will choose one new musical to workshop over the course of two weeks. The application will be easy and won’t require voluminous essays. We’re going to accept open submissions (seriously). Submissions are so open that we’re not even asking for a script up front. Go to this address and schedule a 15 minute appointment to meet us. You’ll meet us at the Gym at Judson and we’ll chat for 10 minutes and then ask you to perform a song from your show. If we like your song and feel that you’d be a good fit for the experiment then we’ll ask you to submit a script and demo. We don’t have many rules but here’s a firm one: do not bring actors to sing your song. If you do, we will ask you to leave before you can play the song.

If your work is chosen you’ll get to workshop it in New York City. You won’t have to fly to Timbuktu and worry about subletting your apartment and losing your day job. If you are chosen you’ll spend your first week creating a new iteration of your musical. If your work isn’t chosen we’ll aim to get your feedback about your script in a week.At the end of the first week we’ll present your musical to an audience. The audience’s feedback will be gauged through interviews and perhaps even biometric sensors. During the second week you’ll focus on doing another rewrite based upon the previous week’s feedback. The final day will be a second presentation that includes a second round of feedback. The second round will give you an opportunity to see if the new changes work.

This is our first experiment towards building a 21st Century theater company. We envision a future where artistry, science and technology can meld into a process that provides low-friction opportunities for writers that allow us to validate who the piece’s audience is and how we should go about reaching them. We’re going to do all of this before we launch a production. Our hope is to enable artistic exploration of new ideas and forms while mitigating the risk of failure for artists and producers alike.

Our bridge focuses on several key tenants:

  1. Frictionless Opportunities for Writers - we don’t want you to have to spend a lot of time or money getting your work out there. Concentrate on writing instead.
  2. Timeboxed Opportunities - we want new drafts to come every week or month. Perfect can’t be the enemy of good.
  3. Feedback - we have the tools to capture in depth feedback from audience members. We’re not talking about focus groups or surveys here. We excel at getting people to tell us things they didn’t even know they thought. We’re doing a deep dive into technology and the science of aesthetics. Let’s see if we can discover a new way to make work better, faster.
  4. Validation - Our first interest is in enabling the creation of great work. After that, we need to validate that an audience is interested it and that we can get them to attend. That’s the easiest way to get artists (and producers) paid.
  5. Applying Science & Technology to the Arts - We think that Darwinian Literary Aesthetics, neurocognition, biometrics, 3d printing and the Oculus Rift will drastically alter the ways that theater will be created and produced. We will be on the forefront of the application of these technologies.
  6. Action Over Debate - Our 80/20 rule is 80% action, 20% deliberation. We don’t have to go through a board and 12 sub-committees to get something approved. If a solution seems plausible then we’ll try it as soon as can get our hands on it. If it doesn’t work then we’ll discard it and move on to something else.

This summer is the beginning of a journey towards a new producing method that will create a better industry for artists and producers alike. We’re willing to embrace any tool, finding or discovery in an effort to build this.

We’re looking for writers who want to experiment with new working styles and manners of getting feedback. Think of this as the theater’s R & D department and think of this specific opportunity as an invitation to our early alpha test. Applications are available here. We hope to meet you soon.



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About Form

Form was created to bring a scalable, repeatable and sustainable growth framework to the arts. We’ve taken a page from startups and are applying a framework that allows companies to test their business models and scale them in a low-risk and low-cost manner. Together we can build the theater companies of the 21st century.

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