Don’t tell me your shitty idea… show me your dream.
I do a lot of “telling people my idea” when I want to create something new. I think a lot of us do this.
For instance, the other day, I was describing my show for the Edinburgh Fringe (see the performance section of this site) to someone…
I said something like “It’s a show about trying to get diagnosed for ADHD, a mixture of stand-up comedy, clowning, bouffon, science, and audience chat.”
To which they replied something like “Wow, that sounds impressive!”
“Yeah,” I said, “But that’s just a sentence. I actually have to develop the show.”
It’s true. It’s just a sentence. An elevator pitch. A few shitty words I wrote to try to pique interest with potential audiences. But it isn’t the show.
It isn’t even The Dream. Just empty words.
Here at Gaulier, the teachers often say “What is your dream?” or “You need to have a dream.”
The Dream is what will bring your performance to another world. If you can sell us (the audience) your Dream, you can turn your performance into something that’s on another level than the normal mundane crap that many people put out into the world.
What is a Dream?
Well, imagine you are a 4-year old child. You are putting on a show for your family, about being a king or queen in a castle.
If you were a boring adult, as most of us are, you might say “This is my idea. This dining table is the castle, and the two fruit baskets on top are the turrets. I am the Queen and this bowl on my head is my crown. And I am starting my show fighting the dragon, who is the dog.”
This is boring.
This is just your “shitty idea” (as Philippe often says).
This is an explanation of your idea for a show. Just like the sentence that describes my show isn’t the show.
But, as a 4-year old, you don’t explain all the pieces of your set. Instead, you show us your Dream.
You dream that you are a benevolent ruler in your castle. Your castle isn’t a table with fruit baskets on it – I mean, it is to the adults – it is a towering castle with turrets that stretch up into the sky. You stride through Your castle, ordering around your lowly subjects and fighting the dog.
In your head, it is an epic adventure.
It’s a Dream.
David, one of the teachers here at Gaulier, said the other day that devising a clown piece with someone else often breaks down when you start trying to explain it with words. It’s much better to show people and explore your ideas physically together.
We adults like words. But words often fail us.
You come to your rehearsal with an idea…
And you try to explain your idea with words to your partner…
But now there are 2 shitty versions of your idea: one in your head and one in your partner’s head…
And your partner will give you feedback on THEIR version of your idea. Together, you’ll try to implement the idea, but now you’re working at cross-purposes because the two ideas in your heads are different.
But what if you share your Dream instead?
Instead, you come into the rehearsal or the show with a Big Dream and you try to show it to your partner. You use rudimentary sets and props in place of the real ones you would like and you act out the parts of the idea.
And you WILL fail to fully capture the Dream.
The Dream in your head is going to be far bigger than what you can build or act. Just as the table and fruit baskets will never be a real castle… but when you try to show your Dream, you’ll create *something*.
And that something will be far more dynamic and entertaining than any shitty idea you could spend ages trying (and failing) to explain in adult words.
But you do need a Big Dream.
These past few weeks, our class here at Gaulier has received the feedback a lot that “you don’t have a big enough dream.”
It’s hard to lean into a dream when ideas and words have become the “safe option” over decades of your life.
But it’s necessary if we want our performances to be anything more than mundane.