Thankyou and Goodnight.

Coming to you from KL airport. It’s warm, it’s humid, and now I know I’m on my way back to Aus.

Our last week in the UK was spent at Battersea Arts Centre working on our sell out Scratch, developing and refining it, and most importantly trying it out on a few different audiences.

IMG_1422The festival grounds after a flood takes out the third stage and a kebab stall. 

After the showing at UCL we found ourselves in a good place with our games and the structure of the performance prepared, and so were able to spend the weekend and part of our week at BAC luxuriantly scripting and developing character text. This was further than I thought we would get, and lovely to be able to put a level of detail into it – to give an idea of how a story and characters within the festival can be used to support, clarify and focus the impacts of the changing system upon the individuals who interact with it – and illuminate the science further. So our characters Val Kaye – a terse but accomplished production manager and festival veteran-, Liz Hausman – a local aspiring singer/songwriter who comes to wow the smaller crowds and finds herself on bigger stages-, and Eliot Bulson – an enthusiastic and naive teenager out to get everything he can out of his festival experience-, had some script scripted and got themselves a makeover (we found some Marvel models cheap, quietly proud of our casting however) and became a much more integral part of the festival experience. It was also really rewarding to test the interaction of the performance out on our audiences. It’s so easy when working in a rehearsal room to forget about that. For ease of working through the technical, and writing aspects it is necessary but it is always the most interesting moment when the audience comes back in and deals with everything you have cleverly planned out in a completely different manner. This piece has so much explaining in it, with all of the science, and then all of the game rules and instructions, and watching and learning how to pace that explanation, and how to get everyone engaged and comprehending quickly and easily was fascinating. We learnt that about halfway through it all gets a little heavy and a fun truck driving game  is required to get everyone moving again, so we threw that in for our last scratch and it worked a treat.

IMG_0866Our participatory rubbish trucks ready for service/racing.  

On Saturday we got to grips with the mammoth task of putting together our notes, photos, video footage and completing acquittals. To an extent I think we achieved what we set out to do. On our first day of this process we identified the cognitive attitudes that we wanted our audience to experience and perhaps even to become aware of using. That actions can have unpredictable side effects, Modelling makes the simple complex and the complex simple, that all models are wrong – some are useful and that complex systems are interconnected. We identified that we wanted to play with board game mechanisms to demonstrate some of the systems operations and that we wanted to use narrative and characters to support the science that we assumed would be a part of the process. We set out to make ‘an interactive tabletop performance’ about scientific modeling, how it is used, why it is important and why it is both informative and fallible and we went some way towards understanding how to do that at least.

IMG_0818Attempting to explain our festival flowchart. 

At the end of this development I have a better grip on what we are trying to explain and some of the mechanisms that are appropriate to do this through. I understand a little better our process of systems analysis and how it is useful.  And as with the end of any good development I have more questions than answers. Is a music festival the best context to explain modelling? There are many audiences that could engage with this material, but I think each audience would demand a slightly different show depending upon their focus. We had a largely teenage audience for one of the scratches who seemed to get very excited about it all so that is one audience avenue but are there others? and  how do we remake it for two performers and with a touring aim in mind?

All questions for another development, hopefully not too far in the future. But for now, it’s been fun and I am looking forward to giving the whole thing some breathing time.

– Nikki

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