This week at UCL we have been getting our teeth into making our second (and for this development, final) systems model.
We’re taking on a music festival. All is revealed. In engaging with modeling, and bringing it to the people (and not have people look at me funny when I try to explain anymore) we have decided to model a music festival. Like Mum pureeing the spinach and adding it to the Spag bol (so you can’t immediately see or taste it – but you get the goodness and the understanding later) we will help you plan and run ‘the best music festival in the UK – ever’ with a modeling play inside.
For this fictional music festival we have begun to create some simple activities. David F and Nathan came up with a lovely balancing mechanism in which the festival board meet with the prospective festival directors and they do some planning. The directors (audience) are asked to balance the desire they have to have the highest profile artists possible, against ticket prices, and security requirements, how remote the location would need to be, and how sustainable the festival could be. Through an elegant tipping mechanism each element must be balanced, and be able to sustain some simulated ‘financial shocks’ (Nathan and David wobbling the table – you have been warned) in order to assess the stability of your festival proposal.
David S and I created a sourcing and constructing activity in which one part of the audience take on the roles of the festival financier – sourcing materials to build the infrastructure of their festival – while the other part of the audience take the role of someone in charge of the actual construction of the festival. With a time pressure of 3 days until the festival opens (3 minute timer – or a 3 minute rendition of Las Ketchup) the producer and constructor must work together to fulfill their required needs.
While neither of these really worked on their first time, or even their second or third times, each of them engages their participants in some kind of system analysis or experience. They ask an audience to consider and take ownership of a environment quickly and easily, as well as for forethought and planning. They also teach the kind of behaviors early in the show that we want to encourage – participation, communication – and that there is no right answer, and no way to win or to loose, just simple or more complex ways to view a system. We are considering that it is simple and engaging games like this that might come at the beginning of a performance about modeling, as well as a weaving of story and context creating the parameters and introducing the typical behavior of this environment, and a beginners guide to modeling.
In a process like this most of the rich learning around modelling has arguably been in the development process – enjoyed by us as creators and performers. How do we translate all this information to performance without over simplifying it?