Ask good questions
I’ve had feedback sessions about my plays for almost four years now. I’ve had sessions where I’ve gotten good feedback, feedback that helps me tell my story better. And I’ve had sessions where I’ve gotten horrible feedback, feedback leaves me confused about what I’ve written and discouraged from writing more.
Here’s what I think. The key to getting good feedback is
ask good questions
Maybe I think this because I have a background in cognitive psychology, and I did several user studies in graduate school and in various jobs. I see feedback about my plays the same as data that I get from people in studies. You have to ask the right questions, or the data (feedback) you’ll get will be useless.
And maybe I think this because of my experience at my first public talkback session.
I produced a reading of a play of mine back in January, 2008. The first night, most of the feedback I got was telling me how to write my play. I didn’t know why people had the suggestions that they had, and I came away from it with very little that would actually help me with the next draft of my play.
So I thought – and maybe this is my scientific background showing – there’s got to be a better way. I did a Web search before the second night of the reading.
And I found this article about how to put together post-play discussions.
I rewrote my questions. It was a miracle! The feedback I got that second night was generous, insightful, and helpful.
Later, I learned about Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process. Which is also phenomenal.
Lerman created it for feedback sessions about dance, but it works for anything.
How do you get feedback?
What works for you?