Blog for Management & Consulting – april 2018
Authors: Sandra Boer, Robert Tordoir and Andreas Vonder

More than six years ago we had a wonderful conversation with playwright and director Andreas Vonder. We asked him to take us along in his process as a theater maker. From the first idea to the final presentation. We took the time and dwelt upon all elements of this process that surprised us. There was one element that we immediately addressed: the first reading. The instrument for a director to engage his entire theater company, from actor to light designer, in his vision of the piece. How can you as a director or manager benefit from this proven methodology from the theater?

The first reading

In the theater, the first reading is the moment when everyone sees the piece for the first time and reads aloud together. So that the actors and other involved parties get a picture of the performance and their own role. This is also the time to question the director. What is the purpose of the piece? From the roles? And by finding out together what is not yet clear, to arrive at a shared understanding of what the essence of the piece is.

From theater to your organization

You have developed a good vision together with your (management) team or the management. But during the presentation it seems that the story does not arrive. What would happen if you used the techniques of the theater? So that employees can discover and question the essence of the vision itself? So that it eventually becomes ‘their’ vision? It starts by bringing out the (real) opinion of employees and finding out which informal stories are doing the rounds.

Translating these stories into scenes first creates a certain distance, a safe space. Within the fictional setting of a written scene, things can emerge that normally remain hidden. In scenes, things can be enlarged and sharper than they really are. But also ideas and initiatives from teams that support the vision become visible and will serve as inspiration and booster for the rest of the organization.

From first reading to directing your vision

During a ‘First Reading’ the scenes are read aloud; by colleagues, for colleagues. This is a valuable moment, because the different scenes make it immediately clear where each department stands with respect to the vision. On which points the departments and teams reinforce each other, and on which they weaken each other. In short, employees discover in the discussion about the scenes to which the vision contributes and how they themselves can contribute to realizing the vision.

And after the first reading? Then rehearsal can begin.

About this blog

In the art world, new methods, ideas and concepts are developed daily that can contribute to the innovation and change power of organizations. Sandra Boer and Robert Tordoir, founders of Art Partner, discover these Рoften hidden Рgems and determine exactly which part of the artistic process is interesting for organizations. They post a monthly blog for the Dutch magazine Management & Consulting.

Beeld: De Beeldvormers