My name is Megan. Welcome to [[my twine]].
Twine is a lovely bit of software originally designed to make interactive fiction - a bit like a 'choose your own adventure' book -
but I like to use it to [[talk about theatre]].
I like that you can format a twine so that the shape of it mirrors the way different themes and narrative threads swirl around a show, [[diverging and regrouping->diverging and regrouping2]], sometimes tying up nicely and sometimes [[running off into the distance]], never to be seen again.
It's also a helpful tool when trying to navigate spoilers.
[[Go back->talk about theatre]]
[[Are you sure??]]
It's nice to give my readers some autonomy over the way they navigate my reviews.
It's more democratic this way, isn't it?
I'm empowering you right now, aren't I?
[[Yes Meg, I feel very empowered, thank you]]
[[Stop patronising me Meg, you arsehole]]
I'm so glad you see it that way. The time and effort I've spent developing my key brand messages has clearly paid off.
After all, this is [[all for your benefit]].
Okay, okay. Absolutely, you have my word, I'll stop.
After all, Twine is just another set of rules to abide by, [[right?]]
For example, when I [[split a sentence]]
over [[several screens]]
it's always with your reading experience in mind.
It's //definitely not// a mechanism of control.
It's //definitely not// designed to slow you down, to dictate the speed at which you receive information, or your freedom to read the way you want to.
This twine is about theatre and housing and [[public space]].
When I [[split a sentence->split a sentence 2]]
over [[several screens->several screens 2]]
[[like so->like so 2]]
it's really just one knobhead's way of stopping you from skim-reading, or turning to the index to find [[the bit you're interested in]].
Right now, you don't know how long this is gonna go on for. There's no handy percentage meter like on an online survey.
I might be committing you to [[an hour of turgid nothing]] - click click click, [[still more nothing]] - or perhaps the next screen will be [[the last]].
<iframe width="420" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tiYVIZD1G9c" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
[[Go back->the bit you're interested in]]
Blah blah [[blah->Definitely not]].
[[Go back->the bit you're interested in]]
10 years ago, 6 years before the Olympics came to East London, Cressida Brown and Offstage Theatre made a show called //Home// in the tower blocks of Leyton's Beaumont Estate.
The tower blocks were almost empty, [[ready for demolition]].
While making //Home//, Brown and her colleagues spoke to a number of residents, recording film and audio in and around the towers.
Now, ten years on, they've revisited the estate and its people, including those who were moved out to Essex during the area's redevelopment, to make a new show for the Yard Theatre: [[//ReHome//->ReHome3]].
Near to the start of the piece, we hear from Teresa, a local vicar, who used to deliver Christmas cards to the towers, and now does the same in the new, low-rise development that replaced them.
//"I used to go right up to the top and then I would walk down, stopping and just looking at the view, that's what I really miss, [[that's what I really miss!"]]//
On a clear day, from the top of one of the three Beaumont towers - All Saints', St Paul's and St Catherine's - you would have been able to see for nearly 20 miles.
East past Barking, Dagenham, and Romford (the towns that would re-house so many of the Beaumont residents), to the point where the Thames begins to widen; south to the cluster of finance HQs around Canary Wharf, the UK's first 'enterprise zone', where tall gates and entry card systems separate bankers from Isle of Dogs boozers; southwest to Central London and, behind it, Richmond, Twickenham, Hampton Court and a king's playground; then north to Epping Forest, Lee Valley, waterways and woods.
(The 'Home Counties', haha.)
Below: people walking, waiting, driving, like GPS dots on a smartphone [[citymap]]. They're playing on swings, standing in line, [[texting]] and talking and fighting together. In the distance, planes take off, circle, and land. Glass lifts [[whoosh]] through glass buildings. Animals hide in hedges, burst through cat-flaps, are packed in ice, two for £3. Stones are thrown. Clouds pass. People sleep in [[the middle]] of the day.
From the top of an East London tower block, the world is observed; the miniscule, the vast, the close, and the lonely.
//"When I deliver cards on the estate now,"// says Teresa, //"there are lots of buildings that I have no access to."//
You know Coney? Yeah you do. The ones who make theatre that's like a game; like playful, interactive encounters.
Yeah, you know [[them]].
One of Coney's projects, //Adventure One//, was recently part of the //Whose London Is It Anyway?// festival at Camden People's Theatre, where it was played/performed off-site, at [[a secret Central London location]].
When Ellie Harrison was funded by Creative Scotland to create //The Glasgow Effect//, the public outcry was [[loud and emphatic->outcry]].
When the Great Fire of London wiped out five sixths of the city in 1666, architects and designers proposed plans for a new system of streets to be built across [[the site of the devastation]].
Lumiere London was a festival of light and illumination that took place across Kings Cross, Mayfair and the West End in the middle of January.
It was produced by Artichoke, who also run the hugely successful Lumiere Durham festival up in the North East.
The dates of the London festival - 14th to 17th Jan - were chosen because they are apparently [["the most depressing days of the year"]].
Artichoke produce large-scale spectacles for huge numbers of people, all of whom can access these enormous acts of creativity for free.
They were behind Royal de Luxe events in London (//The Sultan's Elephant//) and Liverpool (//Sea Odyssey//), and Antony Gormley's //One & Other// on the fourth plinth in [[Trafalgar Square]].
Trafalgar Square is owned by "the Queen in Right of the Crown".
This is one of those weird legal terms that makes private ownership sound like [[an act of benevolence]].
While the Queen is unlikely to sell Trafalgar Square (it is managed by the Greater London Authority) there's nothing actually stopping her from [[calling Foxton's about it]] tomorrow.
(She could also put the Crown Jewels on Ebay if she wanted.)
One of the exhibits hosted in Trafalgar Square during Lumiere London was //Centre Point Lights//.
Unlike the other works in the festival, which had been created by practising artists, //Centre Point Lights// was loaned to Lumiere by property development and investment firm Almacantar, who have removed them from the nearby Centre Point tower while they turn that tired old 1960s landmark into "a new residential, restaurant and retail [[destination]]".
During Lumiere, the 3m-high neon lights (the original letters from the top of Centre Point building, as designed by George Marsh of architects R. Seifert and Partners) were placed directly underneath the main entrance to [[the National Gallery]].
That's the Hellenic pillars of our National Gallery, with its free access and publicly-owned art collection, lit from below - from ground owned by the Queen - by the brand logo of a [[property development]].
The latest collection of stories by Ali Smith is called //Public Library//. Lots of her work is autobiographical, and she begins this book with an account of a visit to London to meet her editor, Simon.
Walking through Covent Garden, the two spot a modest doorway marked LIBRARY, and decide to [[go inside]].
It's important that the audiences of //Adventure One// cultivate the impression that they are not participating in //Adventure One// at all.
This is because the 'secret location' of the piece, while largely consisting of open air streets and places of public congregation, is entirely private and self-governed, and Coney have not been granted permission for their participants to [[play there]].
Anna Minton writes about the privatisation of public space in //Ground Control//, an indispensable book on the way commercially-led city planning has dismantled communities and bred a damaging fear of crime.
I've read it quite recently, largely in response to issues raised in the //Whose London Is It Anyway?// festival and in anticipation of //ReHome//.
It's fucking excellent. I've become [[a total Minton devotee]].
She explains how whole areas of our cities are privately managed estates or 'Business Improvement Districts' (BIDs), and what looks like a public right-of-way may well be exempt from the laws that govern freedom of movement in the UK.
These areas often employ their own security personnel, who can restrict entry, ban activities such as begging or simply 'loitering', and shut down protest within [[their jurisdiction]].
//"It's really about far more than safety,"// explains Minton, //"it's about creating places which are for certain types of people and certain activities ...
and [[not others]]."//
This policy extends to the control and manipulation of artistic practice within the boundaries of each estate or BID.
Photography and street performance is often prohibited, or a rigorous vetting process put in place to ensure all buskers complement the commercial environment that the management wish to [[cultivate]].
One BID manager who spoke to Minton for her book said:
//"We prefer planned creativity. There's a trade-off between public safety and spontaneity. What you want is a few surprises, I agree with that, so we add in unpredictability with lighting schemes and water features, anything that adds to the quirkiness of what happens when you walk around as a consumer.//
//We make huge efforts to [[import vitality]]."//
When Coney bring their participants to the secret location for //Adventure One//, they are simply not importing the right kind of vitality.
The very nature of their work makes it un-vettable. Their audiences are free to make choices and [[act upon them independently]].
One thing you can say for a water feature:
It never threatens to [[revolt->Ali 1]].
There are many problems to address with the concept for the work, a year-long 'action research' performance project during which Harrison [[will not leave Greater Glasgow]].
In a statement about the work though, Harrison explains that creative exploration of economics is one her primary objectives for //The Glasgow Effect//.
Writing on Facebook, she said that it was the academic funding model that had been the main impetus for the project.
//"I want to highlight the absurd mechanisms at play within [[Higher Education]]."//
As a stipulation of passing her probation as Lecturer at the University of Dundee (Duncan and Jordanstone College of Art and Design), Ellie Harrison was expected to write and submit "a [[significant research grant application]]".
For starters, its name is taken from the phenomenon of ill-health and low life expectancy experienced by residents of Glasgow...
while Harrison will receive £15,000 to do what many people in the city are compelled to do through poverty and lack of opportunity:
By using public subsidy to fund a year's 'residency' in the Strathclyde area, Ellie Harrison is making a commitment not just to her artistic practice and political activism, but to the under-resourced city she calls [[home]].
I love this quote. It reminds me of Teresa, delivering Christmas cards in the old Beaumont towers, taking in the views from the top.
Ellie Harrison would probably only need to climb about 15 storeys to see the entire [[landscape of her project]].
It makes me wonder where she stands on academic publishing, the 'Research Excellence Framework' which star-rates university departments like posters on the Edinburgh Fringe, and the journals which can post accessible 'interventions' on a free-to-access website, but which lock peer-reviewed content behind [[subscriptions and paywalls->Ali 1]]...
Of course, for it to achieve its aims, //The Glasgow Effect// must reverberate beyond its immediate footprint.
As so many of her work opportunities have previously come from outside her home city, Harrison plans to use the project to //"confront curators and institutions ... to encourage reflection on [[their own working practices->message]]."//
Amongst the proposed boulevards and public squares (largely abandoned because of landowner issues) was a design by Captain Valentine Knight.
Knight suggested digging a canal which would loop between Billingsgate and the River Fleet, with the idea that tolls and fines for use of this canal would [[finance the rebuilding]].
King Charles II, on hearing of this plan, was appalled.
He was offended that anyone could suggest he would //"draw a benefit to himself, from so publick a Calamity of his people"//, and had Knight [[arrested]].
When artist Richard DeDominici was forced to vacate his studio because of encroaching gentrification, he knew he had played a part in his own downfall:
//"I've watched as the large block of social housing opposite my studio has been emptied of its residents and converted into luxury apartments, many of which will be sold to overseas investors and [[remain empty]]."//
//"As an artist I am both culpable - artists moving into run-down spaces are often a predicator to gentrification - and vulnerable; in the next few weeks I will need to move out of my studio as the building owners have sold to [[developers]]."//
When DeDominici staged //The Death of Social Housing// for the //Whose London Is It Anyway?// festival at Camden People's Theatre, the nearest sizeable body of water was Regent's Park Lake.
This was just too far from the venue to be viable, so another pool of water [[had to be found->needed to be found]].
//"Fortuitously,"// explains Richard, //"due to bad drainage in the housing estate behind the theatre, a large puddle had formed several days beforehand, which was still there even though it wasn't raining.//
//It wasn't as big as other lakes we've used, but meant we could set the models on fire individually, as originally envisaged, [[for the first time.]]"//
It's difficult isn't it, that conflict...?
By locating the procession and pyre in a housing estate puddle, is //The Death of Social Housing// doing vital work, highlighting an important political issue and drawing attention to the environmental needs of residents?
Or has Richard DeDominici inadvertently benefitted from "a Publick Calamity"? Is he performing an act of gentrification by stealth?
[[OMG you're right: ALL ART IS BOURGEOIS TYRANNY->zizek]]
[[Chill out Meg, it's just a puddle->puddle]]
They are immediately made to feel unwelcome, for this is not a library, but a private members' club, designed to appeal to the creative industries and nearby 'theatreland'.
//"Have you got any actual books? I said.//
//We do do some books as a feature. Please help yourself to a card, the man said a bit pointedly since [[we already had]]."//
For the rest of the book, Smith divides each of her stories with memories and accounts from the public libraries that friends and strangers grew up with,
and which are now diminishing as a result of [[austerity]].
Poet and academic Sophie Mayer writes:
//"I believe that within every library is a door that opens to every other library in time and space: that door is [[the book.->portal]]"//
I tell you what else feels that way?
The [[theatre auditorium]]...
The [[tower block]]...
And [[the internet]]...
When I use this twine software to control the speed at which you experience [[my writing]]
I like to think it makes me [[the boss]],
that, within certain parameters, I can control the way [[you read]].
That's not strictly true though, [[is it?]]
Nobody's //making// you read this.
You might have given up ages ago.
//"Fuck this,"// you say. //"It's boring as hell. She's not making a single coherent point, just shoving a couple of vaguely related things together and hoping for the best. [[Lazy, frankly.]]"//
Writing online, I'm competing with so many other tempting doorways, to other, more interesting things.
[[Just like libraries.]]
Once he's got you in your seat, it's much harder to leave a theatre auditorium than a website or a twine story.
There are so many people to disrupt and offend on the way out.
Still, no-one's gonna fight you or [[block your way]].
Housing though. Different story. How d'you opt out of that?
There's no exit light, or shutdown button. Not that you'd want to press anyhow.
[[Everyone's gotta live somewhere]].
With heightened security built into the very architecture of the low-rise homes that [[replaced them]],
residents of the Beaumont Estate in 2016 might look out of [[a window]]
and only be [[able to see]]
what's [[a few]]
Every person in every seat is making their own relationship with the work they are watching,
but that work also mediates each person's relationship with their neighbours.
Audience members are united in a kind of [[social sharing->the internet2]].
The density of population facilitates not only the architecture - which in turn provides access to those panoramic views - it makes a real, living shape out of [[encounters between neighbours->the internet2]].
I have a friend, a theatre producer, who says that everything he does is part of the [[fight against Netflix]].
[[Go back->talk about theatre]]
Feelings [[ran high->loud and emphatic]].
Every link is a portal to another place full of [[knowledge]] or [[humour]] or [[friendship]] or [[sex]].
Or [[something else entirely->the internet2]].
[[Go back->the internet]]
[[Go back->the internet]]
[[Go back->the internet]]
[[Go back->the internet]]
It is about arts sponsorship and [[academic publishing]].
It is about tower blocks and libraries and the little green man on [[exit signs]].
It is about London and Glasgow and [["the World Wide Web"]].
All of the above
[[somewhere in here]].
As with most universities - where academics must fundraise for their own research - this is also established practice in the arts world, where few individual artists or emerging companies have the resources to employ a producer, and permanent contracts for artists within funded organisations are often incompatible with [[creative freedom]].
From //The Glasgow Effect// application to Creative Scotland:
//"The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create local opportunities - testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy [[within the region where she lives]]."//
This is the primary message I take from //The Glasgow Effect//.
I find it quite inspiring tbh.
How can I make sure that //my// creative endeavours fit within an [[ethical operating structure->their own working practices]]?
In response to this, he created //The Death of Social Housing//:
a workshop in which participants craft architectural models,
followed by a silent, non-denominational funeral procession ending at a nearby lake or other [[body of water]].
//(Slavoj mate, you're [[pissed->Ali 1]]...//)
//(passes you a [[towel->Ali 1]])//
There's a strong argument that Almacantar's sponsorship made many of the other festival works possible.
It might be that without their input, the event could not have been free.
But part of me would rather cancel all art forever than let it be poisoned by [[profiteering->Ali 1]]...
I love this idea. It feels a bit //Alice in Wonderland//.
Like a portal in our imaginations can connect with real, physical, geographical [[space->the book.]].
When Teresa looked out from the top of the Beaumont Estate towers before they fell, she could see for [[nearly 20 miles]].