My rock and roll Friday evening was all sorted as far as I was concerned. Having taken a box of Porcelain up to my flat, I was experimenting with cleaning products. Bleach and chlorine spray, in particular. My fingers stink. Half way through my experiment, my phone buzzes. “What time are we meeting?” Oh. Shit. I’ve agreed to go to drinks with Coney. “See you in an hour.”

Back before Immersive was the buzzword, there was Coney. Originally Rabbit, born at BAC, from the same stable and time as the better known Punchdrunk and the better loved Shunt. A playful secret agency, characterised by their lack of desire for publicity. It fitted with my rather unusual early desire to be an actor that nobody was noticing. I wanted so much for the humans to stop cluttering the stories. I found people at BAC who were deliberately ignoring the established power structures and doing weird stuff. Weird AND subversive? Where do I sign? With Tassos, essentially. He was and is brilliant, unusual, funny, bold. We made things together. Some of them worked. Some of them didn’t. We learnt through all of it. Games in the real world. Plays where the actors can see the audience. Continuing the work of remarkable practitioners in this country like Joan Littlewood to break down the barriers. There was no possibility of being “impressive” at Coney. You had a thing to put across and you did it. It was a useful alliance just after Guildhall. It helped me drop a lot of shit. And it gave rise to a wave of interesting work in my industry.

Years later and yeah, I’ve had some great notices out of my wacky work with those guys. My photo unnamed in national papers. Considered and positive angles written about my work. But part of the deal is the anonymity – (we all had codenames back in the day). And I’ve recently started to realise that the work is sometimes less relevant than the ability to prove you’ve done the work. So it serves me less to work hard for a company that forefronts anonymity.

I loved the time I spent with them back in the day, throwing things against the wall and seeing what stuck, and Battersea Arts Centre was a very good place to do that. For this evening it was just reconnecting, play testing some of their coming games, and meeting up with old friends. It’s lovely to see how there is an audience for the work now.

I’m working tomorrow round the corner from Guildhall in a treasure hunt theatre game thing that totally came out of Coney. Often in the past I’ve felt that Tassos has the job of getting there first so that someone better with numbers can nick his idea and make it more financially viable. That’s what I’m doing tomorrow, very close to where we built the incomprehensible “Something Running”.

It was a good night, seeing positive people from my life, all over too briefly.

I only took one photo today that wasn’t of porcelain. It’s me at Alie Street…


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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