"CompassNeedle Seeks True North" by Charles Goforth

On Sunday, December 17th, twelve CompassNeedle artists met downtown to discuss CompassNeedle’s mission, to clarify shared goals and check the status of the short film and full length play we’re developing and producing.

These two projects began as treatments, and the writers’ response to a question that we posed. From a dozen treatments we commissioned earlier in 2017, these two were picked, and the writers, Damon Chua and Damon DiMarco, have now been commissioned to expand their treatments to full length works. When commissioning all those earlier treatments, we asked writers to respond to this question, one which has now become a jumping off point as we work to define our mission:

Because our society is built almost entirely on the pursuit of self interest, it frames service to others as an optional expense, like charity or cable, or as a likely hindrance to personal advancement. But according to almost every source of ancient wisdom, religious or secular, service to others is more like income, enriching a person with well-being and greatly aiding his or her self-interests by summoning huge, unseen forces as allies. So might we actually do better ourselves if we weave into our most selfish, ambitious designs ideas for the well-being of those around us ? By practicing this art of “And,” versus society’s message of “either/or,” might we gain the biggest advantage of all? What would that practice look like? And could we prove it?

These questions were part of a larger collection now being boiled down into CompassNeedle’s mission. At Sunday’s meeting, we took a significant step and used these questions as one of our departure points to arrive at an overall agenda. As we strove to get everything into a sentence or two, another question that arose was “who are we serving?” Because we’re producing art, the possible answers were artists, the audiences, or both.

And this question gives rise to a critically unique aspect of the CompassNeedle projects. We want not only the content of our projects to provoke thought around these ideas. We want the way we make them to explore these principles, too. So, for example, the production contract under which we will produce the film contains provisions to support the well-being and advancement of the whole team, in ways not typical within the industry.

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