It can be easy to forget that creativity is a brain exercise more than a money exercise. Sure, money helps – but it can also get in the way.
Subject in point – The Cardboard Theatre’s first production at Indiana University – Bloomington.
Life is all about solving problems.
- Problem? Students at IU want to put on a show but have very limited funds.
- Solution? Sets made from cardboard (unless you needed to sit on it – then it was ‘borrowed.’)
- Result? A delightful evening featuring all original work by IU students for the IU community.
(Full disclosure: Like myself, there were also a few proud parents in attendance.)
True creative talent often makes use of materials that others have discarded or set aside. Seldom do we have every tool we need or the perfect material we want. The creative enterprise is all about taking what is available and finding ways to invent what isn’t.
Since this isn’t the place for a review, suffice it to say The Cardboard Theater created two evenings of wonderful entertainment for a budget minded audience (admission was free) and was able to showcase some great work by the IU fine arts community. The evening was centered around the idea of dreams and visions, hope and fear, decisions and love. The group as a whole featured great writing, directing and performing talent, including my daughter Sarah’s directorial debut for the one act “We, The Boys” by Kelly Lusk.
Theater has a long tradition of storytelling with sparse sets and simple spaces that many innovation centered organizations would be wise to remember. The core idea of any lasting production is always good story told well. The core idea of any successful innovation is always good idea told well. Bells and whistles, unlimited permutations, infinite pre-release rehashes that occur when budgets are flush can actually work against finishing and distributing the core idea, the basic improvement that customers will understand and appreciate.
The name of the production was Cardboard Theatre. We all knew the sets would not be made of 24k gold. The promise was made for entertainment and maybe a bit of enlightenment. I give Maggie Smith and her team of writers, actors, directors and production crew credit for they fulfilled the promise in spades — on a college students budget, for college students with a budget.
Have you taken stock of the Cardboard Entrepreneurs in your organization lately?
Cardboard Entrepreneurs are everywhere, but maybe your budgeting process is hiding them or discouraging them. Is there an idea sitting on your desk that you would love to do but only have 5% of the budget you need to do it? Think through the core idea and then challenge yourself – can I change the world with cardboard, scissors and string?