Sunday, 5 July 2009


Here are some of the things I've been involved in making recently. Only some.

Spoiler alert. It's a little game about games. Three players each listen simultaneously to mp3'd instructions and act accordingly. All they know is that only one of them will win after 12 minutes, they don't know how. The instructions are mostly interrogating how they might win, for instance asking them to talk about that for a minute, then go and find a stranger to ask them who'd win if they were playing each other, and report back that answer to the others. It's placed on top of the old safety-bomb mechanic, so they are constantly clocking each other. At the end, each player has to declare to HQ whom they think should win and why. HQ then declares the winner - according to a rule which is kept secret - without explanation. It's a frippery, but very pleasing, not least for the music courtesy of Tom Haines of the London Snorkelling Team, track called The French Horse.

That the rule at the end remains secret is a little contentious. It was kept secret partly because anyone finding out before they played would spoil the delicate tension that comes from all three not knowing. And also to generate precisely the frustration it does for any players who like their rulesets transparent and their goals clear. It fails currently in not acknowledging this, but that's a quick reedit away. To be honest, I made the piece in the first case as an engine to test the format and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked to then try and finish it.

Doffing a cap of course to Rotozaza's Etiquette - don't miss btw if you ever get the chance, it's an exceptional piece. But this still quite distinct. Ant of Rotozaza was always most interested in giving total instruction to their audience as unrehearsed performer, moment by moment. I rather wanted this to be a series of challenges that gave space for the playing audience to fill in themselves. Not better, just different. Hoping to be doing some more of these with Tom soon.

Earpiece playtested through the Hide & Seek Sandpit and ended up in the original games festival Come Out & Play in New York City. I wasn't there, but it was quite thrilling to imagine it happening in Times Square, apparently in the hubbub of Puerto Rico day. I'm waiting on photos.

The Following
Another game that ended up in Come Out & Play. This one was co-devised by a group of us from Coney in its online walled garden: Steve Mills and myself in London, Chris Till and Tara Gladden who find themselves currently in New York. We wanted to make a chasing game, but one that required wits more than speed or stamina for gasping fat kids (like me). Players are in two teams, the Followed and the Following, whose members leave alternately, Followed then Following. Each is using text-messaged instructions to find a Secret Basekeeper within a time limit, and the Following get more points per successful member. But the Followed are always one step ahead in the instructions. The focus is on the thrill of tailing and trying to shake your tail. After devising online, we playtested with a gang of Coney followers, then it did Manhattan... and then it played a Sandpit, where it reappears on 1 August: a really great developmental sequence. It's brilliant to hear the adventures of players afterwards. The last time, one Followed blagged her way into a restaurant kitchen, through which she was chased Hollywood-stylee. She describes her experience here.

The Fetch
A little piece for Glue's Scratch Interact, rustled together in a few hours working with Billy Bliss, who's not just a brilliant actor but also in possession of the best name ever stagebound. It was a one-on-one walkabout into a simple spooky story. In the time we had, I mostly wanted to help Billy achieve a conversational intimacy and complete responsiveness to his companion - which he did, every time, riffing effortlessly without ever falling off the narrative thread.

Annette Mees and I were introduced on Skype by BAC to Hey Fan, an artist in Beijing, as part of a British Council showcase. We carried on the conversation and ended up devising a little piece together called Hutong, with much helpful development comment from very many in Coney in the online walled garden. Hutong is a district in Beijing. It also means 'neighbourhood' in Chinese. We drew a red rectangle on a map so that it encompassed the perimeter of Beijing's Hutong. Fan walked this following directions and instructions as he went, documenting his journey. This rectangle can then be drawn by anyone else at any scale and placed on a map of their choosing for them to document their own journey. The instructions are here, Fan's journey is here and others in Edinburgh, Dublin and London are here. We haven't made it very public yet, but this is a nudge to me to do so. You can do one too if you like.

A bigger piece, this: a freeze-plus that transformed the Parisian suburb and spa town of Enghien-les-Bains. It was a collaboration with body>data>space and commissioned by Enghien's Centre Des Arts. I couldn't make it out with the Coney team in the end due to Happiness but by all accounts it went brilliantly. Photos accumulating on the Facebook event page here.


Many other bigger things happening that I can't talk about yet.

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