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‘Tinkering’ With Clean Language

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Jewels Carter runs a devised drama group at which meets on a project-by-project basis at The Art House in Southampton. They aim to to perform twice a year, and to give everyone a flavour of the whole creative process, regardless of ability.

Jewels Carter runs a devised drama group at which meets on a project-by-project basis at The Art House in Southampton. They aim to to perform twice a year, and to give everyone a flavour of the whole creative process, regardless of ability.

They were a month away from performing a production called ‘Tinkering’ when disaster struck. Four actors pulled out en-mass with less than four weeks to go. Jewels felt she had exhausted all the ideas and so was a little apprehensive about continuing, even though it would be even worse to stop and let everyone down.

So she decided to put her new Clean Language skills to the test, and took a deep breath and asked the remaining three actors, “What would you like to have happen?”

“We definitely want to carry on,” they said, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Really hoped they were genuine and thinking that it would soon emerge if they didn’t think they were up to the challenge, she asked, “Carry on, and what kind of carry on is that?”

Jewels says:

“The response was overwhelming. The group quickly became a single entity in total harmony, which really has been a phenomenal team building experience. They described continuing with their existing characters, using me as a voice only character, and they detailed changes in individual characters’ journeys and suggested some physical acting (using the body rather than words).

The only other question I asked was, ” X and X and is there anything else about X?” I did not require any more clean questions and did not ask any other (less clean) questions either. The group just flowed with ideas and tasked me to write the new script, which was quite simple as it was based around the old script with all their new ideas written in. I was just the minute-taker and the person who rearranged the order.

The group had re-written the play within 15 minutes of facing their crisis. We had a little play with the lines etc., and were back on track. The new script is also an improvement on the old one!

Using Clean Language enabled me to let go of all of the stress and pressure I felt at that moment. The creativity was fantastic and really grew minute by minute. None of us felt pessimistic and none of us felt stressed. I was able to trust the group to perform and they trusted me to pull it back from the brink. The group are now strong enough a team to arrange rehersals without me and trust themselves to go with the flow.

I don’t think I could have improved upon the results - I love what the group have done. I will also use this technique to start my next project group off. I think in that situation I will try to include extra questions, especially, “Whereabouts is X?” more “What kind of X is X?” and “Does X have a shape? colour? size?” as these could help with the staging of the script as well.

Thank you for giving me something which brings such powerful results.”

Photo by Kilyan Sockalingum on Unsplash


About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.


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