Exploration of Assumption

In my experience – probably in that of most all of us – Assumption can be found at the root of virtually all misunderstanding. The insidious thing about Assumption is that it is stealthy, pretty much ever-present and most often goes completely unidentified and unrecognized; thus calls for diligence.

It sounds and seems a simple and obvious maxim, yet the pervasiveness and profound effects can be easily missed until too late.

As with the network of roots that thrive, woven beneath forest and meadow, with the propensity to sprout anywhere and at any time; Assumption shows up, everywhere. Far more often than not, it can go unidentified while affecting nuance and substance or creative undertaking…holding us back from what is truly possible in the creation of something compelling.

From a simple difference between, for instance, the color of Blue envisioned by a Director when speaking of a set piece or lighting effect and the Blue that is heard by the Designer to whom he is speaking to greater, deeper and far more disparate differences that can grow from undetected Assumption; each and all of which can slow production, create unnecessary conflict between creatives, upset a producer (and we can’t have THAT!) contribute to cost overruns and – of the utmost importance – affect the resonance of the Experience that is ultimately created and produced.

Ergo: Exploration of Assumption is Number One on my own list of Tenets of Experience Creation.

Far from being a one-time practice or Moment in the course of development; This is, for me, a tool and practice appropriately and productively applied throughout any creative, collaborative process (and throughout Life, for that matter; but that’s for another forum…).

In the macro, this means beginning with such foci as:

  • What is the audience assuming when entering the theatre or space?
  • What am I assuming about that audience…and their assumptions, for that matter…?
  • How might I be limiting myself and the spectrum of explorable possibility?
  • What are other, subtle or blatant options in the writing / reading of this script…
  • What might be outrageous…and how might that not be so outrageous?
  • …of the possibilities inherent in a particular venue, theatre or space?

And here’s a thing to remember; sometimes that Assumption is there to be circumvented or overcome, and at other times it is ripe for leverage  of and enhancement to the Experience. Assumption isn’t bad, as long as it’s recognized. Unrecognized and unappreciated, it can undermine. Awareness of it is always of value.

Throughout any process, from concept development through pre- and production – even through the run of a show or experience – pulling out the “What am I assuming” tool, examining the product or show and examining my own, ongoing decision-making has seldom failed to offer an extra insight. Sometimes the smallest realization can be revelatory, and can change the tone of what is being created.

I believe this about covers it; makes the point I want to articulate. Exploration of Assumption is the ongoing, regular and just-this-side-of-habitual exploration of ALL possible assumptions. It’s simple, and it will serve you….imho.

Thanks for reading.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”

-Robert Browning 

Next week: Liberation of Preconception

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