Theme: Our Shared Spaces
Crises have a way of clearing space for something new to emerge. Think about the rebuilding of a city after a great fire, the regeneration of land that has been degraded, or the designing of common institutions after a war. As we begin, gradually, to emerge from a year of lockdown, 2021 is an invitation to remake the spaces we will share.
In 2021, The Performance Theatre will explore the spaces – from the physical and institutional to the digital and spiritual – that a more inclusive, sustainable and just society requires.
What kind of leadership will be needed to make spaces for new times?
TPT 2021 Season
Continued to be grounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, TPT hosted a series of small (10-15 person) virtual gatherings in 2021, which included moderated discussions with special guests, workshops and creative interventions. The sessions under the 2021 Season investigated different perspectives on the kinds of spaces we will share.
Find below a summary of the sessions.
#1: 16 April – Cities as Shared Spaces
We kicked off the 2021 Season last month with an engaging session on 'Cities as Shared Spaces' with Seattle mayoral candidate and Indigenous leader Colleen Echohawk and Heather McTeer Toney, former mayor of Greenville, Mississippi, and National Field Director for Moms Clean Air Force.
For decades now, the way our cities have been designed has excluded or segregated certain communities, resulting in urban spaces that are not truly shared. Colleen and Heather share a passion for unlocking our cities' potential to drive environmental and social justice. In this conversation, leaders reflected on ways to seek input from those who have been systemically marginalised. How we interact with and experience space differs from one community to the next, and understanding these cultural differences to build mutual respect should be the foundation of how we create resiliency and healing for these communities.
#2: 20 May & 9 June – Practising Curiosity in Dangerously Divided Times
The 2021 Season continued with two workshops on ‘practising curiosity’ by depolarisation expert and Better Angels digital director Monica Guzman.
Our societies are more divided than ever before, a result of our tendency to sort, other and silo perspectives unlike our own. This short workshop provided participants with a framework to bridge gaps in our knowledge and experience through a practice of listening rooted in curiosity.
#3: 24 June – Storytelling for a Suspicious Age
What do people turn to when they lose trust in the institutions and leaders that hold power over them? Writers Charles Cumming and Taiye Selasi joined us to explore the heroes and narratives our suspicious selves believe in, as well as the power of art and the media to make us think differently about the spaces we share.
There seems to have been a shift in the kind of protagonists we want – paragons of virtue have given way to flawed antiheroes who are honest, at least with the audience, about their motivations. The group discussed how this shift in the narratives and characters we trust might be paralleled by our expectations of leaders - what we trust, what we suspect, and what we forgive.
#4: 5 July – Can Virtual Spaces make us Better Humans?
With so much of our lives and interactions moving online, the virtual spaces we spend time in have outsized influence over our behaviour. Entrepreneurs Paulina Olsson, CEO and co-founder of Peppy Pals, and Eli Pariser, co-founder of New Public, were in conversation with Jeremy Hillman from World Bank to discuss how virtual spaces can make us better friends, neighbours and citizens, building empathy and understanding.
Public spaces like parks and libraries have a critical function in any neighbourhood as they help build stronger communities and nurture common understanding through personal interactions. The discussion explored how we can build better online spaces that develop our emotional and social intelligence; and participants shared reflections on what leaders can do to build more positive, inclusive and diverse spaces for everyone.
#5: 30 September – Practising Curiosity in Dangerously Divided Times
The 'practising curiosity’ workshop by depolarisation expert and Better Angels digital director Monica Guzman was back by popular demand. Monica led participants through a practice of listening and curiosity to be able to challenge our assumptions, build our understanding of different views and have more constructive dialogue with those who disagree with us.