Blog: Summer 2015 – New Writing, New Horizons, New Thinking from Cambridge to Montevideo

The summer is over and a new focus is upon us…A heady mix of theatre, training and teaching.

Following the success of Hotbed, our New Writing Festival in July with excellent new work particularly from Craig Baxter with Pictures of You, a play developed in alliance with Martina Simplicio. This was presented as part of What’s Up Doc? Series where playwrights are paired with Academic Collaborators.

Inspired by the ‘mental imagery’, emotion and the study and treatment of bipolar disorder, Pictures of You presented the intriguing meeting of two friends after many years apart. Full of unexpected lightness, warmth and love, the play explored the challenge of recalling the past and picturing the future…

The partner was Dr Martina Di Simplicio of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge

The best work from HOTBED in Cambridge was then transferred to London’s SOHO theatre where it ran for a week alongside the brilliant play from last year: bloominauschwitz.

Following bloominauschwitz’s award as the best new play at Brighton Festival it is now heading to the National Theatre Festival of Czech Republic in Brno. The play is now fully matured and ready for National Touring next year. We also hope to perform at The Edinburgh Fringe next year … watch this space. See the awards – we are in at 25 minutes:

and here’s the new video trailer of the play- hope you can catch it next year (or in Brno!)

Meanwhile we are focussing back on training too this autumn including developing new programmes for CEDAR and the Judge . At the Judge I have been made a Fellow in The Arts (Creative Engagement)…

Following its awards as Entrepreneurial University of the Year Anglia Ruskin has been going from Strength to strength and in particular the centre ran by Professor Lester Lloyd-Reason at CEDAR .

This unit remains a beacon in Enterprise thinking and projects and I get such a kick being around these guys. There is always a crazy project around the corner.

This week working with CEDAR I have been delivering Creativity and Curiosity workshops to Managers of Incubators from Montevideo in Uruguay!

Working with Peter Taylor from TTP group, we delivered a workshop about how to bring creativity into the workplace

Four great managers from Uruguay included “Good Cop” Paola Rapetti and “The Rule Man” Sergio Delgado.

Here’s twelve great stories of entrepreneurs in Uruguay Great people – great ideas and looking forward to heading to Uruguay to meet them again soon and more colleagues.

So, many projects on the go, will get inside them all in the blog over the next few weeks.

Here’s a reminder of what we do and how we do it;





June 18th: Short back and sides with that MBA?  

Back in the UK

Time for tasks uncompleted back at home.

Number one on list is Dexter the dog’s haircut… so off we go to Poochie Parlour! It is a cliché, but as soon as the dog gets near the vet the paws start dragging like a cartoon dog on ice… there is no way I am going in there…!!



The afternoon is spent working on the soundscape for our production of SWIMMING by Jane Upton. The play is off to the Edinburgh Fringe where it will run for almost a month (after previewing in London at Soho Theatre).

We are working with sound designer Krisztian Hofstadter

For this play we need a soundscape which evokes the sound of the sea but also includes some of the music the characters are interested in. We decide that the character of Jack will listen to UK Hip Hop GRIME. Being an old fart I put a search into Google mistakenly for GRIM Music… v. different results come up… from Bucks Fizz to Ozzy Osbourne!

I am actually not supposed to be directing Swimming, this is meant to be our co-producing partner at The Colchester Mercury but they have had to pull out so I am now taking over… Tony Casement (Associate Director at the Mercury) had directed the development version of the play at Hotbed 2013 and did a good job with strong visuals supporting aspects of the show around memory…I am taking this on now and my natural inclination is to start again totally fresh – wipe the slate clean. Hence my re-focus on sound rather than visuals:

Finished on sound for now so…back to the dog groomers and then off to teach on the MBA at Cambridge University Business school.

This day is starting to shape up like a day in the life of…when I was asked to write a typical day in my life for a Cambridge Newspaper… OK for all you guys from Novartis in Moscow this day was about you…

Not sure about the photo I look about 12!

OK Dexter collected and deposited home…tonight I am teaching MBA students at The Judge Business School. These are following the enterprise and entrepreneurship route. I am working with the head of Exec Education Peter Hiscox.

Peter is always the smartest dressed teacher at The Judge. We ‘fell out’ a few years back when I got ‘bumped’ at the last minute in a workshop for someone more important ( Mike Lynch ). This is the guy who sold Automony to Hewlett – Packard.. controversially!

I understand why Peter bumped me,  but our session- for Enterprise Ireland – suffered to the point that we failed to join the dots  which led to confusion and frustration and I was unusually pissed off. Peter to his credit came and apologised a few weeks later and we certainly made it up working together in Qatar where we were the joint trainers on a programme for Qatar Commercial Bank – a programme that I truly enjoyed. especially the accommodation..!

Every time I see Peter I feel bad about asking him to apologise for something which was essentially a decision he made for the participants of the programme not for me. Lesson for me was to be more adaptable…

MBA students. Straight away I tell them about my coffee break conversation three days previously with Vice President of a major American company (see blog 15th June). In the conversation the VP said that an MBA is not a guarantee of a job and certainly not a guarantee of fast tracking in the corporate world. In fact an MBA has the potential to do damage – giving over confidence to people and creating the “I know best scenario” . This is what Peter wants me to address tonight… communication confidence without communication arrogance…

I put five names on the flip- chart: Picasso, Shakespeare, Aristotle, Paul Bourne and Churchill. I notice I am the only one with the requirement of both first and second names..? I guess to be a great thinker you have got to have a good surname..?   I can’t think of any great thinkers who need both names to be identified?

OK got one –sort of!  Oscar Wilde. You don’t just say Wilde … may be it is the number of syllables?

So it will always be the philosophy of Paul Bourne…

So why those names…

Shakespeare on the choices and influence of time and experience in our ‘communication adaptability ’ from As you like it: All the world’s a stageand one man in his time plays many parts”

Churchill  on conscious learning  and engagement: “I love the idea of learning but hate being taught”

Picasso on creativity and play: “Every child is an artist. The problem is as we grow up we forget how to be an artist”

Aristotle on persuasion: to convince people you need two things Evidence and Artistic Persuasion.

And Bourne?: two philosophies (more than the others… lightweights!):

Get the best out of yourself to get the best out of others

 The way you act towards someone will influence the way they act towards you…

The session is challenging. I always feel a frisson with MBA students – they don’t want to play… maybe it is a time/money/value equation.. or maybe when I say that I am a theatre director they really ask the question… are we wasting our time?

There is an orientation towards everything being totally logical and immediately applicable, that we must be able to deconstruct every moment with a model or evidence – sure  – I get this need, but we also need to explore the philosophies of our protagonists and experiment and have fun. To be fair this group is more open minded than most – maybe the beer and pizza that has just been delivered to our room helps?

We run some scenarios and end up with a playful dynamic around what I call ‘tactical authenticity’ where we change our performance style to suit a situation. Introducing our Archetype characters and using them as tools to convince or persuade our audience. We have fun role-playing me trying to convince my son Harvey to wear his bicycle helmet as he heads off to school.

They’re a clever bunch and come up with some great ideas including buying him an inflatable helmet only comes into play when needed?! They are certainly one step ahead – let’s see if we have made some impact on retaining the entrepreneurial thinking but opening up the positive communication dynamic …

Bugger. I got a Parking ticket – followed by a personal series of communication negatives…