“Game” theatre

I didn’t want to go back to London tonight. I’m starting to love the people I’m working with. Normally when the show is open you get to know people better. The days get longer. That incredible realisation that you’re being paid to do the thing you love – it starts to sink in. And community develops.

Annabelle and I went for fish and chips today and then just pinballed around in her car doing stuff. It was as much about what we were doing as it was about the fact we were doing it. It was fun. I’ve made a friend in her, solid as a rock. It doesn’t take long in this business. We were friends immediately and it’ll last. She wanted a tarot reading, as it had come up in conversation as a thing I do. We found a place upstairs in the venue. She drove me around, helped me get my week long train season ticket, then food and an industrial bag of litter for the pussy cat and we even fruitlessly looked for sulfuric acid – (fuck you acid!). We got some Soleros and also some cherries and blueberries. I love that Waitrose is cutting back on packaging for fruit. Bellwethers, I hope. And we got back to the venue in plenty of time for the show and again I observed how extraordinarily insightful Alice Instone’s tarot cards are.

Like that tarot job, this “theatre” job is not a job of work in anything other than the loosest sense. Yes, it requires skill on our part, and yes it can be exhausting, but hellfire, it pleases us.

The clichémonger has a permanent discount on the quote “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” “Thank you, clichémonger. But the next two weeks commuting are likely to be hard, yes? Despite me doing what I love? Yes?” *silence*

“Happiness is only real when shared,” says the clichémonger finally, and I see their point this time. This is a happy company. No two ways about it. You can’t get ego in the way of game because there’s no way to control how it plays out. If you try to you usually end up looking foolish. This is a company of amazing people approaching from many different angles and places and histories. Engaged audiences who want to feel something and to get stuck in. Nothing has ever reminded me of Sprite so completely. Everybody mucking in. Beautiful things made by many hands. No hierarchy. No bad energy. Joy across the board.

Nonetheless I’m going back to London tonight. I’m writing on the bus. Pipes still aren’t good, plus I want to try the tube journey from Brixton to Paddington with time to spare so I don’t get taken by surprise when I have to do it in a hurry.

Today I got asked in a Q&A about the history of game theatre. How can you answer that? These things respond to a possibility and a need. In London for me it started with Rabbit – (now Coney) – back in 2001 at BAC when everyone told us we were insane and this wasn’t acting, and we made games that didn’t work using technology that doesn’t even compare to what is available now and kept making and learning and tweaking and learning and failing and failing better and popping to the clichémonger to pay for the “fail better” and sometimes … sometimes starting to win…

Obviously site specific and audience responsive theatre have existed since The Acropolis. But a lot of active game stuff started with the erstwhile secret community of Rabbit. I think I’m allowed to say that I was “Mother” now. One of our codenames has since helped build many of the Escape Rooms that exist globally. But Zoe, our director likely hit on this work through totally different routes. Convergent evolution. Augusto Boal. Theatre fits the need. People need to feel they have a voice right now – that they can affect the things around them. Let’s make stuff that does that!

Recently, elections have not proven to be effective in bearing out people’s will. We all want to feel like we have an impact. Let’s make theatre that allows people to simultaneously have fun and feel powerful..

Here’s the king, dropping his status a bit. Playing. But sticking in the knife.

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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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