Creating A Less Good Idea

The Centre For The Less Good Idea, located in the heart of Johannesburg is a safe interdisciplinary space that supports experimental and short form collaborative projects that don't have a natural home in a theatre or gallery.

Twice a year, artists from different art disciplines meet to create work for the bi-annual festival held at the centre. Under the leadership of experienced curators, these artists experiment and venture into other disciplines in a quest to create the best projects. Season 6's curators are Sello Pesa and Thiresh Govender.

In preparation for the festival that will take place in October, a group of dancers, poets, actors and singers gathered for a workshop at the centre. The one-week workshop was for idea generation and development, collaboration, discarding parts of or ideas that don't work.

I spent a day watching the process of idea development at work.

Every workshop day commences with trust exercises. Day four's exercise was about an individual letting go of everything and giving themselves up to being led by the group. In this exercise, the individual closes their eyes and lets the group lead them in a process of total surrender. During the reflections session; the artists commented on how vulnerable they felt, yet felt safe in the hands of teammates. Doing the exercise outside undoubtedly invited the eyes of the onlookers who interestingly associated someone being carried by a group with an emergency. What was interesting about this exercise is that I couldn't stop looking. It was so freeing as a spectator. For the artists themselves; they realised that they became more tolerant of each other's discomforts and offered support.

The trust exercises are very helpful in clearing one's mind and putting the artist in a great frame of mind to begin creating and developing ideas. After the reflection session, the artists prepared to present what they have been working on. I watched as everyone is running around gathering props and building their sets; even as they work individually, the collaborative factor becomes clear as the artists realize that one's set can be used by the other at the same time or chronologically. The sound and lighting crew is very instrumental during workshop week because even for them this is a week to experiment and go through the elimination process of finding what works or doesn't.

Season 6's theme is The City (Johannesburg) and how the artists relate with it. Watching the presentations transported me right into the Jo’burg CBD as I tried to negotiate my way through very persuasive street vendors and the regular 'Vimba' being shouted from one end of the street to the other. The perfect flow from one presentation to the other will have you believe that the artists shared notes and collaborated before the presentations. Kanti. No! It's all instinctive and experimental. A break in song from one corner or a 'futsek' will add flavour to a piece. A flavour that you didn't know the piece needed. The ideas are change daily and by the time the festival comes in October, most ideas would have been abandoned altogether and others improved on significantly.

For most of us, Jo’burg is a city where we work and these presentations incorporate that so well. This city not only affects our financial well-being but it also affects us emotionally and mentally. I truly cannot wait to see what the festival will be like because I know that I will be entertained and surprised.

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