When students returned from fall reading week they were greeted by some curious photos installed in the southern stairwell of the new HMC campus. On one floor, they found a massive photo of a professor blowing bubbles flanked by clowns. A floor higher, they discovered huge photos portraying twenty-somethings having a blast as they played with toys in a business setting. Smiles abound.
What da’ Dickens?
The exhibit is the work of Kate Dockeray (BA Photography), the first Creative Documenter for the Creative Humanities project. Her challenge was to find a novel way to share the early accomplishments of, deep breath, “Mobilizing Social Innovation to Train the Next Generation of Theatre Entrepreneurs,” a research collaboration between Sheridan College and the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Dockeray went big to highlight the big-time benefits the project was bringing to emerging theatre entrepreneurs, Sheridan students, and the broader public.
Sheridan College &
Toronto Fringe is a massive and accessible festival that uses lottery rather than curation to select productions. Each year, Toronto Fringe hosts over 150 theatre companies and enjoys a laudable track-record of launching world-class talent.
In July 2018, Dockeray brought her photography chops to the Toronto Fringe Festival. Those odd photos of the professor and clowns? That’s Brandon McFarlane (Professor of Creativity and Creative Thinking). He collaborated with coho clown Alexandra Simpson (Upstream Downtown) and improvisers Allan Turner and Christopher Hedrick (A Kev ‘n Cal Mystery) to deliver a creativity workshop at Postscript. They’re applying a creative problem solving tool called Forced Connections; it helps generate highly novel and unusual idea by prompting metaphoric thinking.
Toronto Fringe also delivers the Theatre Entrepreneurs’ Networking and Training program (TENT): it provides emerging producers with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the theatre biz. Sheridan researchers are collaborating with Fringe to expand TENT and find models for sustainability.
Matthew Wong (Bachelor of Information Science) and McFarlane also visited TENT. They designed a five-hour workshop that provided theatre entrepreneurs with a crash course on creative problem solving. Thanks to their efforts, a new cohort of impresarios are ready to produce innovations that will wow theatre goers for years to come and underwrite the growth of Toronto’s creative economy.
Creativity for the People!
Fringe’s ethos is “Theatre for the People, By the People” and Sheridan’s is “Get Creative.” The Creative Humanities synthesizes the two by bringing Sheridan expertise in applied creativity and professional development to the theatre community and the broader public. This involves not only facilitating tangible improvements in the professional development ecosystem but also finding tantalizing ways to share those benefits with the people through free workshops and art.
Dockery’s exhibit is not straightforward event photography; the images explore the delicate balance between creative entrepreneurialism and artistic ambition, two sensibilities that, historically, have been thought to be contrapuntal. They evoke the thrilling sense of play that accompanies ideation—the electricity of the ah-ha! moment—while recognizing that business acumen allows theatre producers to bring their ideas to life: artists want to reach large audiences and make a living. Leading a theatre company is a lot of fun but producers are responsible for a show’s overall success.
With great creativity, comes great accountability.