Person in the Room – by Umar Butt

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Person in the Room – by Umar Butt

It’s very seldom I go into a creative room unprepared. More often than not I know what my role is in the room and why I am there.  I am there as a director, writer, performer or part of the creative team, creative thinking and making offerings that will enhance the production, play, show.

Before this, I had seen Daniel Bye on stage at ARC Stockton turning my mind’s cogs, making me think and ponder about the world we live in, making me question and most importantly making me Feel. I find his work… what word is the opposite of submissive? When you have to sit up and pay attention because you don’t want to miss anything and you can’t escape because you don’t want to?  Anyway that is exactly what he does to me, through his shows.

So to be asked if I would like to be in a room at ARC Stockton for a week with Dan, where he is an associate artist and I’m the artistic associate, was exciting and intimidating, exhilarating and explicably harrowing. What can I tell him that he doesn’t know already? How can I contribute? His thinking, his language, his mind is superior to mine. His will is stronger. He has a PhD.

To prepare for the week I asked him to send me anything he wants me to look at or think about. He guided me to his blog. This blog.

So many Ideas, so many stories and so many shows. Even if he makes his two ideas into shows, a year, and I hope he does, he’s all sorted for the next five years. The ideas weren’t just off the cuff, quite the contrary in fact. They are rich with flavour, their ingredients fresh, you can sink your teeth into it.

I was also really impressed with the way he works, “I’m all right, you’re all right kind of way”. There was no hierarchy, no leader and no follower. I really envied his openness and his nonchalant manner in the room. He had stuff to write and he gave me time to work on my own stuff. We checked in in the morning and we checked out afore the day’s end. Made a plan for the next day and off we trot. 

It felt like we didn’t really do much work. We talked a hell of a lot. He with his double espresso and me with a black coffee. Most days my brain hurt, a good hurt.

All in all, I’ve had a great experience of being The person in the Room. Although we come from a different side of the spectrum as far as performing goes, we are quite similar as far as ethics, ethos and importance of telling stories. I feel like I’ve got to know the other person in the room whose work I really appreciate.

I’m really excited about what Dan will work on next. Keep on keep on friend.

(Originally published as a guest post on Daniel Bye’s blog. Click here to read more posts on this blog.)