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Mutiny’s latest breakthrough project creating Digital Theatre / Gaming / Audience Engagement

24 Aug

With their Locus Solus project – Mutiny have created a real breakthrough in the development of interactive theatre, live performance with a specially designed and built environment in the Roblox game engine.

“Mutiny is a cross artform organisation that creates and develops new projects. Our work tells stories by combining performance, theatre and digital.”

Using live actors – Suzann McLean, Oliver Alvin Wilson and Simon Munnery the audience who were in the world as avatars were able to interact and move through this shifting landscapes and connect with the story as well as each other. 

Using the 1914 Raymond Roussel novel “Locus Solus’ (Solitary Place) as a guide new text and words were added including a new section by leading writer Roy Williams.

Check the video below that gives you a taster of what to expect in the new Locus Solus project.

You can see from the video – this gives an insight into the world and the interaction and engagement from the audience as players too.

For more information about this and our work with Mutiny  

Mutiny are Simon Poulter, Sophie Mellor and Marcus Romer

Welcome to my work and world

12 Aug
Sing-Yer-Heart-Out-Gallery-1Sally Orrock in Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads – photo by Simon Warner

Welcome to my website and growing archive of my work. Here you will find stuff about my current work as well as past projects.

I am a theatre and filmmaker and have also taught and spoken at conferences around the world.

Recently I have been making work online – with our new company Mutiny – and have been working with artists and creative practitioners to develop new projects during the lockdown period of 2020.

On the site there are over 600 blogposts dating back to 2008 – which cover most projects and aspects of my career so far. Use the search function to have a dig around in the archive –  or look at the word cloud and see what takes your fancy!

There are also photos and videos from current and previous projects to have a look at, as well as reviews and testimonials

If you want to get in contact with me just have a click here and choose how you would like to drop me a line.

or you can email me here marcusromeruk@gmail.com

Making work during lockdown

17 Jul

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I have been working from home since March 16th. During that time I have been keeping myself pretty busy. The picture above is from our Mutiny project called Locus Solus – which means ‘Solitary Place’ – pretty apt for the lockdown period spent in my work shed.

March was spent pretty much ‘unprogramming’ all the work I had programmed for 2020 for Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds. I had been working as interim Artistic Director and had just finished the programme until January 2021. It was a difficult time contacting all the artists an companies week by week and breaking the news that we were unable to bring their work to the theatre. Also realising the the two productions I was scheduled to direct – Big Skies, a new play written by James McDermott and Atiha Sen Gupta, and Animal Farm as the large scale summer production – were also not going to happen. My contract was tapering out as the new AD took up their post – so work had to be made out of thin air. Which is what ended up happening…

Zoom Theatre in Norway – War of The Worlds

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March was spent making a piece of Zoom Theatre with the Harstad FHS team who were now scattered all across Norway. This was a first and a really interesting project working with the actors and the Theatre Director Hege Fjeld to make a new version of War of the Worlds. This was an exciting discovery and we worked with green screens and backgrounds and really developed a set of strong performances from the young actors who had been dispersed from their training back to their home towns across Norway. There is a blogpost about this here

Covid 19 Threads – Telling the stories of the pandemic – one tweet at a time.

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April and May was spent making #Covid19Threads – this time with Mutiny – our new company with Simon Poulter and Sophie Mellor – Here we took tweets written by people who had been directly affected by the pandemic and we voiced these with a group of brilliant actors. Simon and Sophie put together the short animated films and we made a series of 6 episodes. On episode every week.

Here is  a story from a Doctor in Canada – and the rest are on the link above.

 

SHEDx – Bill Thompson

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Also in May I started the first of a series of talks with people who Zoomed into my Shed. The first guest was Bill Thompson, journalist and in his words a hacker nd a pundit – who also heads up digital development at The BBC.

 

Locus Solus – A solitary Place – our ACE R&D project with Mutiny 

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This was our project with Mutiny that we started in February at Watershed in Bristol. We  were invited to run our test at the Pervasive Media Studio there – and of course at the end of February it was clear that we would need to pivot to a digital platform – and here we created the world of Locus Solus in the game platform – Roblox. One of the key benefits of this time has been the ability to develop our new company – Mutiny with Simon Poulter and Sophie Mellor.

The project was based on the 1914 novel by Raymond Roussel and we created a series of worlds in the game platform which you can visit. We commissioned Roy Williams to write a new section of the script and we had three actors live in the world operating their avatars. Suzann McLean, Oliver Alvin-Wilson and Simon Munnery.

This is a real breakthrough in immersive digital platform. We managed to get sound and audio into the game world – so we created an online theatre space where anything can happen. There is a fuller description on the blogpost here.

Training and working with artists and companies.

As part of my work across digital and the arts I have also been able to work with key organisations and artists online doing this time. Here I have been working as a mentor for the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, The European Theatre Convention CEO and leadership team, as well as Artists and actors with help with their digital skills and performance pieces. Again some more info here if you are interested in contacting me

Website update of shows I have directed

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Another key project has been to draw my work archive together of shows that I have made– and all to move my website within this blog. Where you can find out about my work – as well as latest projects and previous work too.

Breakthrough in new #DigitalTheatre immersive concept with online participation for audiences – developed by @Mutinyprojects

9 Jul

On June 19th there was a theatrical world premiere. It included a newly commissioned piece written by Roy Williams. It was performed live by three actors – Suzann McLean, Oliver Alvin Wilson and Simon Munnery. It had an original sound score specially composed by Sandy Nuttgens – and it was performed live in a brand new theatre space that we had built on the game platform called Roblox.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 21.41.10Suzann McLean performing on the stage in Roblox

Mutiny is a new Arts organisation founded by Simon Poulter, Sophie Mellor and Marcus Romer. It was set up in November 2019 and received Arts Council Funding to develop our new project – Locus Solus – which means Solitary Space. Our work started in February at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol with their support. This was pre-lockdown and we were developing the project and building the world for the narrative in the software development side of Roblox.

Roblox is is an online game platform and game creation system that allows users to program games and play games created by other users. At present there are over 100 million active monthly users.

IMG_3278The audience setting off to the start the story and to be part of the project

On the platform we built the entire world – over several locations and areas, including, rivers, frozen lakes and one of the spaces with a bespoke theatre.

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The Theatre space can house many audience members – as of course to be part of the show you will need to have developed an avatar to enter the world. As part of the process as a director we ran a full rehearsal schedule, including a technical and dress rehearsal prior to the premiere.

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 12.51.58The Theatre space with room for several hundred seats

The key area of development was the integration of live HD sound for the actors and live mixed soundtrack.We achieved this by laying another program into the Roblox world – so we were able to live mix and integrate the sound and actors’ voices as they moved their avatars around the environment. The real breakthrough was the ability to have active participation and engagement from the audience as we all moved through this immersive environment together – and they too were able to use their voices and talk back at key times too.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 21.43.31Suzann McLean and Oliver Alvin Wilson’s avatars performing the new text by Roy Williams for the audience.

There are several locations in the Locus Solus world and we performed new text across them all. The worlds all interconnect and can allow for multiple immersive experiences at the same time for audiences. This is a truly interactive space and experience for both audience and performers. It lends itself to bespoke design and development of new performance pieces

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 13.17.47The ice plateau area of Locus Solus

As Mutiny we are keen to develop this concept and build partners who would like to join us in this project as we move forward. We are looking to build the next iteration and series of commissions as we continue with this project and we will be looking to fund this.

If you are interested and want to get involved then – drop us a message marcus@artsbeacon.uk or info@mutinyprojects.org.uk

 

Application and Consultancy for Arts Organisations.

22 Jun

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In these shifting times we all have to rethink our approach to making work and how we can maintain and develop our connections with our audiences and communities. With the new ACE Cultural Recovery funding announced on July 29th – I can come on board and help you and the team get the application in for the first deadline.

Let me help you – I am an Arts and Digital specialist with over 25 years of leadership experience both in delivering and making work. I have run an NPO for over 20 years as AD and CEO (Pilot Theatre) and have worked in leadership positions across a range of arts organisations (Theatre Royal Stratford East, Harrogate Theatre and Theatre Royal BSE)

I know how hard the Senior Management teams of organisations have been working over the last 4 months – so if you need another pair of hands on deck who can help to draw the application together just drop me a line.

I have also pioneered Live to Digital delivery projects for the last ten years for a number of different organisations. I can work with you to help you deliver the right plan for you and your organisation.

If you are interested in having an initial conversation where we can chat all these things through – just drop me an email marcus@artsbeacon.uk

My recent article for ArtsProfessional about the Pivot to Digital in the Arts Sector.

Marcus Romer was CEO and Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre from 1994 – 2016. He was interim Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020. He is now a freelance Director, Writer and Filmmaker and Creative Director of Artsbeacon UK. He has been an Associate Artist for Theatre Royal Stratford East, Harrogate Theatre, National Theatre Wales, and Collusion. He has delivered Digital Consultancy work for SOLT and UK Theatre, Home, Manchester, Arts Council England, Creative England, The British Council, The European Theatre Convention, Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, Stephen Joseph Theatre, New Norske Theatre, Oslo, Innovation Norway, LIPA, Barclays UK, Norwich City Council, Cambridge City Council. He created Shift Happens Conferences, and helped to produce No Boundaries in 2014 and 2015 with Arts Council England.

Marcus Romer – Director / Filmmaker / Speaker /

18 Jun

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Director / Filmmaker / Speaker

Marcus’ work has spanned three decades in theatre, film, television and consultancy in the Arts.

He was Artistic Director of the award-winning National Touring Theatre Company Pilot Theatre from 1993 to 2016. He directed work across in the UK, throughout Europe and in Argentina. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).

Marcus has collected three Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for his productions of Lord of the Flies and Beautiful Thing. Marcus’ adaptation of Looking for JJ won the UK Theatre award for best production for young people.

He is a freelance director and was interim Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020 where he directed Pride and Prejudice, Peter Pan and Shirley Valentine.

He is currently a founding Artist of Mutiny Projects who made #Covid19Threads and are currently developing #LocusSolus a digital performance platform on Roblox with Simon Poulter and Sophie Mellor.

He is a published playwright. Marcus wrote the screenplay for The Knife That Killed Me (2014) from the novel by Anthony McGowan. He co-directed the film for Universal Pictures.

He was an Associate Artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East from 2016 – 2018. He has also been an Associate Artist for Harrogate Theatre since September 2017. For both of these organisations he Produced Livestream theatre projects into health care settings for The Space.

In 2018 Marcus directed for National Theatre Wales, where he developed part of their project, NHS70 – As Long as the Heart Beats.

In 2019 Marcus directed ‘Let the Right One In’ for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and ‘Justice 39’ for the People Power Passion project with Revoluton Arts in Luton.

Marcus is a TEDster, class of 2007 / 2011 / 2013. Participating in the conferences encouraged him to set up the annual conference to discuss technology and the arts, ‘Shift Happens’. He has also hosted the TEDxYork conference, and co-created No Boundaries for Arts Council England in 2014 and 2015.

He provides training and consultancy to Arts organisations, companies and individuals with online mentoring and directing. He is a mentor for the Colchester Mercury Creatives.

Marcus has also worked as an actor and has appeared in several long running series and TV films – including Prime Suspect, Dalziel and Pascoe, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Hillsborough and The Bill.

For detail about his work please see below – or email him for more information

marcusromeruk@gmail.com

 

FILM

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Marcus wrote the screenplay for the film, adapting the book by Anthony McGowan. He co-directed the film with Kit Monkman.

The Knife That Killed Me was released by Universal Pictures.

It was ranked #10 in the Top Thirty Films of the Year (2014) by the Huffington Post.

“…like a hi-tech version of Lars von Trier’s Dogville” The Guardian

“Easily one of the best films of the year” Huffington Post

“Alive with visual intention” Empire

“an experimental British drama… with a densely intensive visual verve.” The Times

Official-Selection-RIFF-2014 nantes

 

THEATRE

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Marcus was the interim Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from July 2019 – June 2020.  He was an Associate Artist at Theatre Royal Stratford East from 2016 – 2018. He was also a Producer for Collusion, Harrogate Theatre, and a director for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. . Marcus was Artistic Director at the award-winning National Touring Theatre Company Pilot Theatre from 1993 to 2016. He has directed work across in the UK, throughout Europe, and in Argentina, including national touring productions of: Antigone, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Romeo and Juliet, Lord of the Flies, Beautiful Thing, Sing Yer Heart Out For The Lads, Looking for JJ, Road, The Fever Chart, Bloodtide, and Rumble Fish.

In 2018 Marcus developed and directed ‘As Long As The Heart Beats’ for National Theatre Wales, as part of their NHS 70 project. He also developed the first Active Reality project ‘Reveal’ with Simon Poulter for Collusion.

Pride and Prejudice:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good production of Pride & Prejudice must capture not only the elegance and era of Jane Austen, but also the intelligence and wit. Director Marcus Romer and his talented cast have managed to do all of that and more in the clever new adaptation.” East Anglia Daily Times

Let The Right One In
“It’s only mid-February but we may already have a show of the year on our hands with Bristol Old Vic Theatre School’s exquisite production of Let The Right One In. Brutal, terrifying and tender, Marcus Romer’s production catches all the winter chill of its Nordic setting, its gothic horror gradually intensifying as its young protagonists Oskar and Eli discover common ground in a small little town where a spate of murders leaves everyone on edge.” The Bristol Post *****

As Long as the Heart Beats:
“If there is one stand-out message from National Theatre Wales’ NHS70 programme, it’s the fact that the institution thrives because of the people who keep it moving. Examples of this are given through the five one-act plays commissioned for the season, but it is this promenade production that really drives the point home. Borne out of real experiences people have shared, As Long as the Heart Beats is a beautifully captured snapshot of life inside an NHS hospital, and the people responsible for making it so.” Wales Arts Review

Antigone:
“The 90 minutes of the single-act play gallop along towards the tragic finale. A young audience absolutely lapped it up.” The Independent ****

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
“Flawlessly directed by Marcus Romer and stylishly designed by Lydia Denno, the discussion this show will provoke will run and run” The Observer

Sing yer heart out for the lads
“…the production seems to have everything: pace, precision, power. The result is sensational” The Guardian ****

Looking For JJ
“This is a genuinely important piece of theatre, every bit as thoughtful and demanding as its audience deserves” The Times

Lord of the Flies
“William Golding meets Quentin Tarantino” The Financial Times

Beautiful Thing
“engaging, sensitive and it does your old heart good” Yorkshire Post

Rumble Fish
“The show generates the kind of rapt attention in which you could hear a pin drop.” The Guardian

Road
“Superlative acting and a dynamic, inventive production by Marcus Romer that splices film footage and suitably atmospheric music into the action.” The Evening Standard

 

Consultant / Cultural Leader

No Boundaries 2014 - York

Marcus has become a mainstay for arts organisations seeking to improve the way in which they approach technology. He has spoken at conferences in Venice, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Palm Springs, London, and across the UK. He has delivered projects and business and cultural development projects for Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Chichester Festival Theatre, Kettle’s Yard, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Theatre Peckham, Theatre Royal Stratford East.

2007 attended TED in California

2008 – 2013 created Shift Happens, a celebration of innovation and a forum for discussion for arts organisations across the UK. Speakers have included Ken Robinson, Clay Shirky, Howard Rheingold

2011 Hosted TedxYork

2014 Co-curated and hosted No Boundaries for Arts Council England and the British Council

2015 Co-hosted No Boundaries 2015

2016 Innovation Norway, conference in Tromsø, Norway

2016 Arctic Moving Image Film Festival, Harstadt, Norway

2017 European Theatre Convention, Karlsruhe, Germany

2017 UK Theatre Touring Symposium, London

2018 Mainframe Derby

2018 With Collusion in Cambridge Marcus produced projects in King’s Lynn and Bury St Edmunds. This included developing and creating ‘Reveal’ with Simon Poulter.

2019 Harstad Residency in Norway developing a new green screen project

To find out about working with Marcus as a speaker, contact him here.

 

Projects and Innovation

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Through Pilot Theatre, and as a freelancer, Marcus has led many high profile arts events across the country:

The Great Exhibition of the North Marcus was on the bid writing team for The Great Exhibition of the North for Harrogate, and presented the bid for Bradford

HOME Created and delivered a new digital strategy for HOME in Manchester

ACE and Norwich City Council A research study for St. Andrews Halls in Norwich

Creative England Creative Director for the Eagle Lab Flight Programme in partnership with Barclays UK

International Indian Film Academy Awards Marcus and KMA created the opening event in 2007 at Sheffield Arena, for a live audience of 15,000 and a TV audience of 500 million

UNESCO Was part of the team that placed the winning bid to make York the UNESCO-designated ‘City of Media Arts’

Tour De France Organised the Cycle of Songs with HistoryWorksUK: the opening event of the Cambridge leg of the Tour de France 2014. The event featured a walking tour app that worked along the route of the race around the city with 9 originally commissioned songs geo-tagged to your location

Immersive Theatre Worked with SlungLow in August 2013 to produce Blood and Chocolate (pictured above), a fully immersive theatre show with 200+ actors that worked via headsets for all audience members and a walking tour across the city of York

Conferences Created the Shift Happens conferences, leading to the No Boundaries events to connect the Arts with technology and to shift thinking

Livestreaming Executed the first ever multi-camera livestream of the York Mystery plays, which enabled viewers to choose from 6 camera angles and to curate their own viewing for the BBC and The Space

Produced Reasons to be Cheerful by Graeae for The Space as a live to digital cinema release in 2018

Produced Theatre Royal Stratford East Christmas shows into Barts Health Trust as a livestream 2016 and 2017 for The Space

Produced Harrogate Theatre Jack and the Beanstalk – livestream to Harrogate NHS Foundation Trust for The Space

For more info please contact

marcusromeruk@gmail.com

#SHEDx talk with Marcus Romer and Bill Thompson

22 May

 

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Welcome to the first SHEDx talk – from my shed – as we are under lockdown from the Covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to put together some talks by interesting people who have interesting things to say. As some of you will know I have run a TEDx and indeed several Shift-Happens conferences which again brought together interesting people who shared their ideas and thoughts with an audience.

So for our first SHEDx I invited Bill Thompson to share his Idas about a pot pandemic world and how some of the technologies that brought us to this crisis might need to be shifted to help us build a better future.

The format is that I introduce the speaker via Zoom from my shed – and they then present their talk. The idea is that main talks are no more than 10 minutes long and that they ask us some difficulty questions.

There will be more to follow – and if you are interested in being part of sharing your thoughts as part of SHEDx please drop me a line marcusromeruk@gmail.com

The video with intro and chat with me first …

 

The video of Bill’s talk without the chat and intro

 

SHEDx acknowledges the work of TED but is not affiliated to it. Marcus Romer has run TEDxYork and attended the TED conference several times. In the current lockdown period this is a series of talks looking at the issues facing us with speakers from around the world.

Telling the stories of the Coronavirus pandemic with #Covid19Threads

12 May

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Covid-19 threads is a series of short films derived from twitter threads that have appeared during the Covid-19 pandemic. These shorts are designed to sit back in the same social media space that the authors originally located them in.

As part of Mutiny, our new company, Simon Poulter, Sophie Mellor and I have been working on making these over the last few weeks.

Covid 19 Threads.

The first film is by Dr Arnav Agarwal and is voiced up by British actor Oliver Alvin Wilson. Dr Agarwal movingly describes his experience of looking after a man suffering from Covid-19 and the act of bringing his family in to say final goodbyes over an iPad.

The second film is based on the experience of Drew Penkala and is voiced up by British actor Raphael Sowole. Poignantly, in the film, the main character faces up to the fact that following his Grandpa’s death he will not be able to attend the funeral and will be forced to watch via a live stream link.

The third Covid-19 Threads film is written by Dominic Minghella, emotionally poised between his own survival from the virus and the death of someone close to his neighbour. Voiced by Alan Mehdizadeh

In episode 4, nurse Amelia Hennegan describes her sad experience of holding the hand of a dying man at the height of the pandemic (April 2020). Her frustration bursts out from the tweet as she asks people to ‘stay the fuck home’, as the lockdown starts to fray. Voiced by Claire Lacey.

Many people have been unable to visit or see their loved ones during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the fifth film in the Covid-19 Threads series, a man’s mum is in her last moments of life at Doncaster Royal Infirmary. A health care assistant, just known to him as Julie, holds her hand as she passes over. A sad and true story from the UK 2020 lockdown. This episode of Covid-19 Threads is voiced by Natalie Gavin. Words by Glenn Mitchell.

In the sixth film of this series, one of the saddest stories of the pandemic is told via a tweet by Francina Hyatt. Both of her parents died during the pandemic and she expresses the pain of that experience, not being able to hug or console her family members. The story is voiced up by Liverpool based actor Keddy Sutton. Our thanks to Francina for her permission to use her words. The film charts the period from 1945 to 2020, the course of the lives of her parents.

In the seventh film, Dr Hamid Manji tells the story of his experience of Covid-19 working in Milton Keynes University Hospital – the fear on the faces of young people as they struggle for breath in the ICU and how the medical teams cared for loved ones, many of whom did not make it home. Dr Manji’s words are voiced by Sacha Dhawan. This episode of Covid-19 Threads was especially commissioned by Milton Keynes Islamic Art and Culture Organisation (MKIAC).

We are deeply grateful to the original twitter authors who have given us permission to use their material and to the actors who have come forward to voice them up. Covid-19 Threads has been remotely produced by Mutiny during lockdown. We would also like to thank Sandy Nuttgens for post-production sound. The entire project has been made on goodwill and the conviction that these stories need to be recorded and shared. All work on Covid-19 Threads has been voluntary.In the seventh film, Dr Hamid Manji tells the story of his experience of Covid-19 working in Milton Keynes University Hospital – the fear on the faces of young people as they struggle for breath in the ICU and how the medical teams cared for loved ones, many of whom did not make it home. Dr Manji’s words are voiced by Sacha Dhawan. This episode of Covid-19 Threads was especially commissioned by Milton Keynes Islamic Art and Culture Organisation (MKIAC).

Mutiny was born in 2019, formed by Sophie Mellor, Marcus Romer and Simon Poulter. The new company has the simple aim of bringing fresh performative art and theatre works to new audiences using whatever medium or combination of media it takes. We are accepting new commissions working from our UK base, comprising of the Mutiny HQ in London, Mutiny Corner Studios in Plymouth and Mutiny Shed in Cambridge.

If you have a story then please get in contact at info@mutiny.org.uk

Follow on twitter at @MutinyProjects and #Covid19Threads

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Things I have learned – when you make new stuff happen

31 Mar
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1 people will tell you it can’t be done

2 some people will ask you what the point is
3 some other people get what you are on about
4 some other people have never got what you were ever on about

5 some people will actively help you
6 some people will have an interest in seeing that it won’t work
7 those people sometimes try to block you

8 some people will take time to get it. Then embrace it
9 some of those people then claim it was their idea all along

10 by that time you are already making new stuff

11 and then the same from 1-10 applies again
12 it is more fun making new stuff happen

13 the people you end up working with do better things
14 we all end up doing better things
15 it is worth the setbacks, put downs and the hassle
16 make new things happen

 

Show them you can – if you don’t – you only have yourself to blame

 

Shift Happens