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Retreat!

September 08, 2008 By: Nick Keenan Category: Uncategorized

Here’s three reasons why retreats should be an annual tradition for realigning a theater company:

Food,

focus,

and no one gets to sleep until the miscommunications and misunderstandings that a company accrues over time get put to bed first.

And our retreats have never left me short of inspired. New Leaf is retrofitting our company values this season. We’ll be talking more about why that’s an amazing thing over on that blog real soon, but until then…

Did you see our first round of imports from this upcoming season to the ctdb? HUNDREDS of productions, and artists and updted company information to follow…

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3 Comments to “Retreat!”


  1. Retreats? Great idea. What do you guys do for your retreats? Where do you go? How long? Is it difficult to get the entire company available for a retreat?

    I’d love to know more about your theatre company retreats.

    Thanks,

    Ian

    1
  2. I haven’t forgotten about this request, Ian… In fact, I take it very seriously, and don’t want the distractions at work right now to lead me to a half-assed blog post on this issue. Retreats are really cool, and I think I’m learning through my collaborators at New Leaf how they can be structured to really propel a company into new territory. New Leaf and I are going to be posting a series of entries about our retreat and the many aspects of the company it covers in the coming week if all goes well, going into some detail about how we have structured our sessions, and what we’ve taken away from the retreat as collaborators and as an organization.

    First, some very brief answers to your questions, and then I’ll delve into the detail once I get a break from tech.

    1) We go away. In the past, we’ve gone to a different state, renting a cabin, and shutting out distractions from our focus. This past retreat, our LD Jared hooked us up with a suite in a hotel for a couple days through his connections at Ravinia.

    2) I’d say there’s a point of diminished returns at the end of two days. Two days and a night away from other cares – with lots of meal and snack breaks – feels like a kind of productive vacation. There’s a kind of childlike playfulness that accompanies any kind of sleep-away situation with a group of comrades, and it’s a good match to the business and the rigorous art of your work that must be discussed. These three ways of working and playing complement each other in really interesting ways and bring out really open moments of whole-human clarity. I think I need to explain that a bit more, which will come in the next post.

    3) It is incredibly difficult, and absolutely necessary, to get the entire company to go on the retreat. A retreat is ultimately about deciding and unifying the identity of the company, in a way that doesn’t feel like slogging through a bucket of oatmeal, and if someone is unwilling for whatever reason to make a sacrifice of scheduling to get to the retreat – or even for a part of the retreat – that’s likely a sign that there are bigger communication and commitment issues underneath. It’s not like retreats aren’t a blast. I mean, it’s a shared vacation. It’s DESIGNED to be a blast. Because of that, a retreat is not like a regular monthly company meeting. It’s annual at the most, I think, and we like to schedule ours about three months in advance, right as the summer winds down and the new season kicks off. Saving the dates in April or May is late enough to know about our big conflicts for August/September and early enough to clear out the smaller ones.

    2
  3. Thanks for this Nick. I’m going to pass this along to the rest of the Praxis Theatre team and follow your next few posts on the topic with great interest.

    Thanks.

    3


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