Category Archives: play blog

Exploring the city

I’ve just come back from a ‘Global Shift Run’ set by Al from Aimless Motion. Aimless Motion is a running collective “using interpretive running and situations to explore individual and shared communities of thought” https://aimlessmotion.weebly.com

I was given an imagined map with a route on it. The square is my starting point- Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol and my instructions were “Please attempt to adhere as closely as possible to the map, and record your physical route either via GPS, head cam (I can lend you a camera, or pen and paper)”

so heres my route

 

I don’t think I got very close, but I also don’t think thats the point.  I was also given this instruction “Let me know when you have completed the run and I will send further details about your invisible city”

So stay tuned for updates…

Last week I took part in ‘Only Expansion’ , an augmented audio walk by Duncan Speakman

again I was given instructions and sent out into the city. This time I was handed a small box, a pair of headphones and a rather beautiful book. I was told the only prompts would be single words, pertaining to the book and I should follow those.

Image result for only expansion duncan speakman

I walked out into the city and waited. The journey took be around the centre of town, with loose guidance – find somewhere to watch, walk, touch and it allowed me to explore the town where I have lived for 15 years completely anew. I found myself in strange hidden corners and looked at  my home in an entirely new light. It was a breathtaking and emotional experience. Completely alone, amongst the public. Involved in my own experience, but shared with others in different spaces, at different times. A truly shared experience that was completely individual. I don’t take part in that many audio walks but when I do I really relish them, especially when done so expertly, with such care and lightness. They allow me to truly play in an entirely different way.

in ‘Only Expansion’ I was very much in myself, in the city, within the streets and buildings and people. On my Global Shift run I was much more ‘above the city’. I paid attention to the route I took form a birds eye view, even crossing roads at specific places to try to continue the line that the GPS would make. Essentially I was making GPS art  I was trying to copy the route and it was a really fun challenge, if difficult. I’m usually have a very good sense of direction, but today i kept getting lost. The run today dod agin allow my to really explore the city in a playful way, it allowed my to take the time to go up a flight of stairs by a bridge, along a flyover, down an alleyway- it is my favourite thing about running- the exploration- but this prompted me within a set task, which was lovely to take part in.

I am reading ‘On the Map’ by Simon Garfield at the moment. It references an essay by Sebastien Caquard  theorising films and stories preconceiving digital cartography methods and technologies. In Global shift I really felt like a character in a film, under surveillance, being watched form some dark tower, or like Dumbledore being watched by Ron and Harry. I imagined the villains in MapMyRun headquarters watching my move with beady eyes, under dark coats with hunched shoulders. In Only Expansion, I made my own map, and played out my own story with it.

New week I’ll take part in Of Home and Each Other by Splash and Ripple

another interactive audio experience. I’ll follow this up next week, along with  “further details about your invisible city”…intriguing…

Of Home and Each Other from Splash & Ripple on Vimeo.

 

 

Bristol Old Vic Families Project

We’ve been designing and delivering play sessions to engage young children and their families in the heritage and history of Bristol Old Vic Theatre. We prototyped in late 2017, then ran 8 sessions in the summer term, all at St Pauls Nursery School and Children’s Centre.

In a very basic, boiled down form, we’ve been thinking about this subject as ‘Theatre’ and ‘The Olden Days’,  so we framed each session around elements that could apply to traditional indoor theatre. We thought about elements that would have been used in Bristol Old Vic to tell stories over the years. Things that were different to us telling a story in the classroom, or reading a book-

  • Scenery
  • Sound
  • Lighting
  • Costume
  • Props and objects

then recreating those elements through play in the classroom. It’s been quite a funny head-and-toe up-side-down exercise, because as grown ups making theatre we use children’s play to, well, make up plays so reversing that back down to explain theatre is rather topsy turvy!

Each week we set up a craft activity set around an element- hat making, shadows, painted backdrops, rainsticks and shakers- then left space for the children to explore. Inevitably stories began to develop and we followed impulses to go on journeys following trains, firefighters, cats, trees and children on madcap adventures!

Old objects from the propstore continued to play a big part in the sessions- children love exploring the items, with hands, mouths, ears and noses. Some were a little familiar, others completely foreign. There were also objects that created stories with parents:

  • picking up a set of bellows, a Somalian father explained that they used large bellows in his country for the fire, that he had a bog set and would get them next time he returned there.
  • playing with a tin loudspeaker, two women explained that they used those to listen for animals while hunting or to call to others across outdoor spaces.

again and again objects that we had one relationship to were shown to have very different stories to our players.

Lighting was a particularly interesting session. We blacked out the room and played with torches and shadows. Instantly the (usually rowdy) room became hushed and the whole hour was whispered! The group played more slowly, and explored the room and the objects in a completely different rhythm, even tip-toeing and moving differently.

The SS Great Britain were kind enough to lend us costumes and we all had a great time (parents  included) dressing up and becoming other people. The had a sort of puppet theatre built, that could be the box office, ice cream counter or tuck shop and this almost always became the stage for a final ‘show’ by the children.

One of the most lovely elements that we added into this set of workshops was ‘a walk to the theatre’. To round off the hour, we would go outside and imagine ourselves by Bristol Bridge. Using words and actions we would paint the characters and the atmosphere of the bridge in 1766, of the boats and harbour, then we would go on a journey along cobbled streets, past wonky pubs and eventually to the stage door. Repetition was a strong part of our workshops- each session would only change a little each week, and the walk was a lovely way to play the same game and cement the session. We would layer the story with sounds, actions and noises- running away form a bucket of slops; gasping at the sight of an elephant, handing our tickets to the usher. Finally, on the last week, we brought the children into town and did the walk for real. We found this to be a magical way of layering the past onto the present and something we intend to develop further. Lo-fi augmented reality if you like.

We’re excited to be continuing the work this Autumn. Thanks to St Pauls Nursery School and Children’s Centre and of course the Bristol Old Vic for inviting us to play with them!