The day after Open Space

Posted by  GeoffBrown —November 22, 2010
Filed in Creative Stuff, Facilitation, Humor & Fun, Space, Sustainability, Yes!And Improv

If you have my previous posts, you will be aware that I spent time working with the folks from Australia’s contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre sector. The event was called the Flashpoint Forum and was hosted by the sector’s peak body ACAPTA.

When the 2 days of Open Space was over on the Friday, everyone (26 plus a few others) came back together on Saturday. I’ll admit to feeling nervous about this day. I was asking myself questions like … “why don’t we simply continue Open Space for another day?”. Here’s a story the group created, performed and recorded in just a few hours. On the Saturday morning, the group decided they wanted to create something … a story that brought together the essence of their conversations … and product that could be shared with others in their sector.

Rewind to Wednesday …

Flashpoint started and people arrived last Wednesday afternoon. Dinner that night featured an inspired talk by Kelly O’Shannassy (CEO of Environment Victoria). Kelly’s key message was that we need to re-imagine the future, side step the barriers and move to solutions that create new systems, new ways of creating stuff and of working together. Kelly provided another dimension to our forum theme, “The World Needs Saving and Circus & Physical Theatre is the Answer”. The new dimension was about ‘re-imagining our future’ … re imagining the future of this sector to make it stronger.

After Kelly, we were all treated to the vocal and comical brilliance of Intimate Apparel.

Thursday …


History Trip – Once I got the group started with the ‘ways and wares’, I sat back and participants took the lead on mapping and sharing stories of Australian contemporary Circus and Physical Theatre. Everyone was completely engaged and energised by this activity and the outcome is going to become a book!

Another little harvest was a set of ‘key features’ from their history that we need to remember and carry forward into the future. I used a set of photos called Visual Explorer (CCL link here) to elicit these ideas.

Lifecycle of Emergence – You can read all about this activity in a previous blog post here.


Open Space Kick Off – You can read more about my approach to opening space here – a blog post about my teachers.

I admit to being nervous, however, the morning discussions and activities appeared to really engage the group and our theme became really clear.

This was my favourite offering to which everyone signed up in the second session …

Friday …


Open Space sessions – a new depth and focus emerges in the group conversations

A summary of each concurrent session was published directly to the ACAPTA Blog here by session convenors.

Late PM

Converging to the stuff that matters most – Non-convergence was used here like in this post by Chris Corrigan

A summary of each action was also published directly to the ACAPTA Blog here.

Then, after 60 second report backs from each action group, an offer came the group. A few wanted to capture their key insights from the forum – insights beyond the action topics. So, before the closing circle, we played ’35’ to capture the key insights. You can read about 35 at Viv’s blog here.

Even more performances … this sector knows how to throw a party and improvise!

Saturday …


Given the influx of new participants, we started by ‘re-living’ the whole forum from beginning to end.

It was clear the group wanted more conversation and this reinforced my self talk about continuing Open Space for another day. Instead, the group framed their own question and we entered a World Cafe process. The idea of creating something together emerged and the group set about creating their structure and story which became the video above.

To support the group, I offered the Story Spine and Pecha Kucha structures – neither were used but they did focus the group on the ‘process’ of their task.

PM – see video creation above and this post at the ACAPTA Blog.

In Sum …

The Flashpoint Forum taught me more about the concept of ‘holding space‘ than any event before. For the first time I was able to get out of the group’s way and provide a space and process to support ‘their work’. I noticed more about this group than any other I have worked with and responded in small ways to support them.

For the first time as a facilitator, I managed to STOP myself from trying to control stuff … and let the group work it out. This was true for the Open Space and for the more structured sessions. Lot’s of lessons here!



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