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the paperboats projects are underpinned by 7 performance-making principles


the paperboats - venturing to unseen places

principle 1 - the animating framework

The animating framework is the ever-evolving pool of thoughts, ideas, resources and activity developed by the lead-maker/director(s), that underpin the conception and evolution of a performance-making project. 

Meaning is discovered retrospectively and may  take on a completely different direction to that suggested by the originial activating statement.

principle 2 - limiting the palette

limitation is liberation in the context of performance-making.

it brings focus and attention to the possibilities that exist in the simplest of things and leads us to elegant and distinctive outcomes.

the limitations we impose define the playground we’re working within and beckons deep and intense exploration of the possibilities that exist in that world.

it invites us to explore the ordinary and discover the extra-ordinary.


principle 3 - whimsy and logic

whimsy is dream and flights of the imagination. it is conjured by impulsive, fanciful, out of control thinking.

its opposite, logic, is controlled reason marked by rigor, judgement and common sense. when making a new work, our process is initially all about whimsy.

by setting tasks, improvisations, investigations and provocations around a germinal idea - we tinker, invent and discover through play and happy accident.

we let go of our need to be in control.

there are no right or wrong outcomes. just play and the accumulation of material. the content generated by whimsy is organised by logic and shaped into a meaningful outcome.

whimsy is the generator … logic is the organiser. creative processes require whimsy and logic in equal measure.


principle 4 - slow brewing

85% of the material that comes from whimsical play ends up on the cutting floor. there’s a lot of waste.  

finding ways to manoeuvre the interesting content (the 15%) into meaningful and compelling material is a rigorous process of sifting out the “gold” and forging it into something beautiful.

to get to the elegant simplicity we aspire to in producing extra-ordinary performance outcomes, the process must be given time …

time for the whimsy of open ended play, tinkering and slow-brewing invention.

time for obsessive immersion.

time for shaping dramatic tension, building depth and layers of meaning.

time for the logic of dramaturgy.

time for loving attention to detail and meticulous rendering.

“simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci


principle 5 - collaboration, co-creation, participation

the chance of making something extra-ordinary in enhanced by the power of networked creativity, which can be represented in 3 ways:

  • collaboration represents the the endeavours of a creative team working within its own artisic community.
  • co-creation represents the creative activity that arises from different artistic communities sharing each others content.
  • participation represents the creative involvement of community members intersecting by invitation with the outcome.

performance-making artists involved in The PaperBoats projects will participate under a Sharting Communities Agreement which allows the project to share, copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format as well as adapt, remix, transform and build upon the material, for any purpose within the closed community of partners.


principle 6 - modularity

modularity operates as a key organising structure for performances,  allowing performance-makers from different communities  to share and contribute content to the platform.

the paperboats performances will comprise modules of around 2 to 5 minutes in duration, dramaturgically configured to render a compelling arts experience.

modules can be shared, re-ordered, re-invented, re-configured and re-mixed by artists in different communities.

modularity opens performance outcomes to new types of engagement inviting fresh forms of theatre practice.


principle 7 - artistry

our core business is to discover how the paperboats platform can best serve the quality and innovation of the performances we make and the way the it connects and impacts on those who view it and engage with it.

the principle of artistry prompts the default question in all decision-making –“ how does this contribute to us creating and delivering extra-ordinary performance experiences?”


connect with the paperboats


Hello. My name is Dave Brown. I'm a performance-maker with an insane curiosity for how we as humans function as creators. 

As a theatre thinker and tinker, I offer a digest of provocations and insights to incite and inspire like-minded enthusiasts of creative practice. 

Please join our journey by subscribing to receive my free monthly musings.

thank for connecting with the paperboats

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