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Devoted & Disgruntled

A London Comedy duo is disrupting meetings across Britain to mobilise theatre and the performing arts. Devoted and Disgruntled are creating a network of practitioners and audiences, using large-scale facilitation techniques to start a national dialogue.

Last year funnymen Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson (occasional sidekick to Paul Merton), spent their Olympics touring 28 venues across the country, using an anarchic conference format, Open Space Technology, to start hundreds of conversations about what people felt was important in the arts.


Open Space Technology was championed in the 1980s by an academic Harrison Owen, who had been studying nature and the function of myth, ritual and culture. After working with villages in Africa and America, he became interested in the phenomenon of self-organisation, and noticed that the most interesting conversations at conferences usually took place in the coffee breaks. His approach hands over the agenda to the delegates and encourages them to propose items for discussion, then walk out of their own meetings and head for the bar. It’s a popular format and has reportedly been used with more than 2000 people at a sitting over several days.


Next month (September 2013) the Improbable roadshow will visit venues in Brighton, Basingstoke and Lincoln. The duo are part of Improbable theatre company, produced by Nick Sweeting.

Further details at

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