And so it begins, Saturday, June 6, 2015. Friends, family and colleagues gathered to contribute, discuss, review and critique the key tenets of this new theatre company. The primary objective of the meeting was to create a name for the theatre company, but to do that required understanding the objective, mission statement and values of the company. While the company was the brainchild of its founder, Stacey Ardelean, the process itself was indicative of both the diversity of views and the collaborative nature that she wants for the company.
The attendees at this kick-off event include a dozen people including theater educators, professional actors, directors and stage managers, as well as non-theater professionals with experience in teaching, marketing, legal and finance. The event leveraged many of the teaching techniques used in drama classes to explore ideas and stimulate discussions.
Words: Stacey presented drafts of her artistic statement, company values and mission statement and asked everyone for comments, feedback and impressions, as well as additional thoughts on what descriptive words and concepts these convey. The combined input helped to stimulate more questions about the direction, goals and objectives for the company. The diverseness of the group meant that these topics spanned a broad range of topics with varied perspectives. Not just theatrical and educational issues, but also logistics, financial and marketing as well as considering communities, families, students, staff and patrons, just to name a few. Being able to discuss and address these questions will help to refine company plans and the words used to define and describe the new company.
Images: A second similar exercise was done with images. Numerous images were presented that represented many of the key themes of collaboration, community, social issues, etc. were posted and displayed. This was not just about images that might be used to represent the company and its projects, but also to stimulate discussion about what the company will represent to its constituents and to the community.
Kinesthetic Element: Following these discussions and reflections, the participants were grouped into teams asked to identify a key word or phrase that is an essential element of the theatre company’s and present that as a tableau statue. It was interesting to see the themes they chose: transformation, theatre reaching out to the community and connecting community. Can you identify which is which in the pictures here?
This exercise not only showed what the participants felt was important in the company message, but also to convey images that we might use in how we represent the company to the community.
Throughout the afternoon, whenever someone had an idea or inspiration for a company name, word or image they wrote it done.
Stacey read off the names that had been suggested and group commented on each: positive and negative impressions and images they conveyed. After going through the 12-15 names there had not been a clear favorite, but those suggestions stimulated further discussion and ideas.
Finally, one person said “spark” and everyone went quiet. Everyone liked the word and the image it conveyed. We started throwing out related words such as flash, glimmer, fire, ember, ignite and finally fuse. While the discussion continued, it quickly became obvious that there was a consensus that “fuse” captured the words, images and messages that we associated with the objectives of the new company. The final vote made it a unanimous decision and Fuse Theatre was born.