Compassionate Irritability: Interdisciplinary collaboration as an act of kindness

Kate Hunter


‘We live only in relation to one another. Other people and our traffic with them is what makes us who we are.’

--Anne Bogart

How can interdisciplinary collaboration be enacted as a fundamental, implicit and radical act of kindness? In this paper I examine the working methodology that I established with an interdisciplinary team of collaborators over the space of four years to examine the place of kindness in the collaborative process and its manifestation through techniques, form and content.  

Using two performance projects, ‘Earshot’ (2017-19) and ‘In Perpetuity’ (in development) as case studies, I highlight the ways in which the artistic team drew on their diverse sets of disciplines (performance, contemporary and classical music, electroacoustic computer sound design and choreography) to generate new work. I discuss the ways in which kindness underpinned the collaboration, encompassing love, compassionate irritability, shared knowledge, curiosity, intelligence and rigour. I explore the notion of being kind to the work itself as a fundamental characteristic of collaboration across disciplines, and the benefits of this approach for fostering originality, aesthetic innovation, and lack of personal attachment. 

Kindness presupposed our practice, our training and our attitude in the making of these works, but in turn, the necessity of developing a shared language across disciplines also cultivated kindness. In this way, kindness and collaboration sat together in reciprocal relationship. The questions that we asked of each other - how do we describe our processes? How do we make decisions? What is important? Why? – made space for languages and sets of artistic practices which were rigorous, creative and affirming. 


performance, theatre, inter-disciplinarity, collaboration, kindness

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