And We’re Back!

We’re back! Courtesy of Arts House, Melbourne, Modelling Play is in its second development period. This time we’re spending two weeks revising, reconsidering, and rehashing elements of the process and show we developed in the UK last year. We’ve spent the first week of our time here going through everything that happened over our first three months together – all the science, all the resilience practice, all the crazy and silly games we thought we were so clever in coming up with – and gaining lots of insight into our UK process. We’ve also spent some time looking at the feedback we received and have chatted at length about how this can inform our next variation of the work. While we loved our Scratch show in all its tiny felted glory, that creation of the work was for a specific context – BAC – and fulfilled certain criteria. This week we are considering which performance platforms Modelling Play might be headed for next, and how we will go about shaping a show to compliment them.

It is clear after our first week of this development that our process has become better articulated than it was in London. Our discussions are faster and more direct. The questions we ask are clearer and concise, and we have a better idea of the ones we need to answer right now, and the ones it is more constructive to leave for a later date. Our systems flowcharts are better constructed for our needs and we are becoming clearer in our minds what this thing is all about. Our language for discussing this thing has changed.

At the halfway point in our development we now have a much better idea of what our show will look like in the end. We’ve identified the characteristics and the attributes of modelling that we wanted to convey in the show. We’ve reworked the flowchart of the festival system and created something that more accurately represents its operation. We have logically ordered the events of the show to facilitate ease of explanation and comprehension. We have worked to loosen the outcomes of the games and to make the range of possible audience interactions broader and more sensitive to the system, rather than directing them to fit within our narrative. We have created a series of requirements for the games themselves that we intend to fulfill when we move into constructing some new games which more accurately reflect the system, and the specific interactions within in it. While we don’t have time to work on the games themselves this week we hope that this will be a starting point for another development period.

We have decided to keep working with a music festival. This is mainly because it is fun and engaging and not something you readily associate with a show that explains the attributes of systems modeling. Our main concern with this setting after our Scratch performance was that it didn’t have any outside drivers – things outside the festival system itself that still impacted on the festival system- that would affect the systems operation. We have been attempting to address this lack this week, adding in sections about land degradation, how it may effect the viability of a festival over a long period of time, and considering adding in another couple of iterations of the festival system at the end to show the changes that occur over many years of operation. While there are still issues with the choice of a music festival to present the attributes of systems modelling I think that it is better to make adjustments around it than to change such a strong and colourful context.

This week coming we are moving away from reconsidering the show structure itself and into planning for its next life. This means lots of writing and research and budgeting but its wonderful to have the time to do all this properly and really feel like we’re getting somewhere. It’s also nice to know that stepping away from the work and giving it lots of breathing room, and ourselves lots of thinking time, is a wonderfully productive process.

My question for this development period is How much freedom of interaction can we afford to allow our audience without compromising the representation of  the system or the performance?

– Nikki

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