Innovation. It’s a curious beast, isn’t it? It seems to have become the catch-all cry for something “different” in theatre. In Adelaide there is an interesting relationship to the word in relationship to the arts, because the Adelaide Critics Circle Awards presents the Independent Arts Foundation Award for Innovation.
Last year, the nominees were:
• Steve Sheehan, Stevl Shefn and His Translator Fatima
• The Border Project/Sydney Theatre Company, vs Macbeth
• Brink Productions, Harbinger
Of which wouldn’t define any as being particularly innovative, which, to play the dictionary game, my computer tells me is “featuring new methods, advanced and original; introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking”. So I’m certainly in the call of people to stop using the word innovative. Facilitated by Janenne Willis (Undercurrent/Next Wave), the Ideas In Motion panel put to four respondents:
Are we thinking for innovation? Or are our organisations and practices entrenching old habits? What do we need to hold onto and what do we need to leave behind to negotiate our ever- evolving worlds?
Janenne introduced us with the story of the four-minute mile: it was once seen as an impossible barrier, no man could possibly run that fast. When it was broken once, it was broken again, and again, and again in quick succession. What barriers are real, and what barriers are perceived?
Four different speakers from four different backgrounds, and what you are going to get are four different responses to the questions. But what was a striking similarity from all panellists was: in order to look to the future, to create work that is innovative in a modern Australian context, and to create work which can look into the future we need to look into our past.
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