Monthly Archives: March 2014

Adventure Playground versus The Gym

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I joined The Gym in February. The Gym is a low cost, 24 hour access gym located on Brighton seafront, next door to The Sealife Centre. Incidentally, it occupies a space that, twenty years ago, used to contain an indoor adventure playground for children called Pirates Deep (the link goes to a forum where Brighton football supporters remember having fun at Pirates Deep as kids; rather worryingly, they laugh about being violent so that’s a consideration I need to be aware of for my adventure playground). My son was a toddler then and, although parents weren’t supposed to climb over the playground with their children, I used to pretend Alex was stuck so that I could go on it too. The Gym is nothing like Pirates Deep; rather than fun (my idea of it anyway), it’s a place of serious work.

Utilising Eric S. Raymond’s number one principle in open source software building – “every good work of software starts by scratching a developer’s personal itch” – to begin my project of deciding whether an adventure playground for grown ups is viable, I made a list of things I don’t like about The Gym. I go there because my goals are: to be able to move my body around freely and with enjoyment – so, to be able to run and jump on things (parkour is looking interesting); to be able to run away for a long time, if necessary (end of the world scenarios feed into this one (I also know how to suture after a dream where I removed two bullets from a man’s hip but couldn’t work out how to sew up the holes so when I woke I researched it)) so to build up stamina; to be able to do one chin up (my flatmate makes them look so effortless and I want to not be a weedy girl!); to fit into my old jeans comfortably (so I don’t have to buy new ones).

It’s just over a month since I joined The Gym and I haven’t been there in a week and a half. My last two exercise sessions have involved me riding my bicycle several miles and back, then at home doing press ups, sit ups, leg raises, glute bridges, tricep dips and Russian twists (with a heavy cooking pot instead of a med ball). It’s free and for most of the workout I get to see countryside or seaside. I’m considering quitting my membership. I would much rather go to a place where the equipment invites me to play and have fun, whilst working out. Wonder Land climbing frames, slides and other structures could be planned with fitness routes in mind (like bouldering, where there are easy, intermediate and hard routes) and with free play.

This is my itch with The Gym:

  • boring
  • ideological – more about how your body looks than feels (this is backed up by the posters advertising personal training to look good for the summer: “get a beach body!”)
  • not conducive to making friends: people wear earphones, TVs are on with annoying mainstream music, people are ‘traumatising’ their bodies to get fit so the focus is on that, there’s one table with four chairs on the ground floor although chairs usually have towels on them
  • not aesthetically pleasing – bunch of uniform machines in rows
  • chore to go there (as a result of the above)
  • it smells of mould
  • £40 for a personal trainer to design a program

Therefore, an adventure playground for grown ups would be more inspiring: it would be fun whilst working out – circuits could still be designed but by the individual – information on hand to provide building blocks for individual programs (like lego).  The internet can, of course, be used for this currently, but at Wonder Land, individuals can update the information as they become aware of the latest research, just like individuals adding patches to deal with bugs in the latest version of a Linux program.

 

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Wonder Land and open source code

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Today I watched Depression, the secret we share, a TED talk by Andrew Solomon (it was on my Facebook feed). He shares some stark truths about depression and how it is to be depressed, alongside some ideas of what could help to relieve it. The relief from depression seems to be the best one can hope for rather than the cessation of it. What do other cultures do around this – do they have depression? Solomon has a book (of course) about depression but reviews on Amazon stated his writing was very subjective, albeit eloquently so, and I was guided to a book that is more matter of fact: Lewis Wolpert’s Malignant Sadness, The Anatomy of Depression, which I will pick up from the University of Brighton library at Falmer when I have more oomph.

Perhaps turning towards something worthwhile is a way of curing depression. One of the things I like about Linux, as an operating system, is that it is open source and, therefore, subverts the proprietary way capitalism works. The paragraph about open source code pasted in my notebook in the photograph above comes from Get Back In The Box, Innovation from the Inside Out by Douglas Rushkoff. I cut a lot of the pages of his book out and pasted stuff over the rest; it was the book I used to record my process on my last project. Some of the pages of the book, which is a book designed to help businesses reconnect with what they do well rather than focus on profit, provide me with some good quotes and inspiration, like this one about open source code. I downloaded Eric S. Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar, read it avidly, and copied the points he made about building something with open source principles. Of course, he’s talking about building software programs, but I’m going to utilise it for Wonder Land, which I would like to be open source. I’m going to use his points to think about and take actions on aspects of Wonder Land.

Play In My Flat – documentation of performance on 22 March 2014

This film is a documentation, using the camera on a Samsung Galaxy S2, of a site-specific performance of Play In My Flat. Three screens showed scenes filmed previously in my flat. The three screens were installed, one in each room, and room-specific scenes were screened during the performance. Person With Clipboard (PWC) had control of when the scenes were shown in between improvised performance. The film shows two people, Him and Her, who have mysteriously time travelled from the future to 2014. They arrive in Woman’s flat, where they get to know one another little before PWC instructs them to move to the kitchen where a conversation with Woman allows the unravelling of themes of domestic abuse and climate catastrophe. During the performance, Him and Her are dressed like PWC (in white shirts and black trousers) and observe the goings on, whilst Woman involves the audience in trying to work out why they have come back and what is going on. The film can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/90325374.

Written and directed by Julia Fry.
Camerawork by Andrew Cain.
Actors:
Justine Smith – Her
Andrew Cain – Him
Ric Morris – Person With Clipboard
Julia Fry – Woman

The sound in this film is out of sync in places and the film runs out before the performance ends.

Play In My Flat – documentation of performance on 21 March 2014

This film is a documentation, using the camera on a Samsung Galaxy S2, of a site-specific performance of Play In My Flat. Three screens showed scenes filmed previously in my flat. The three screens were installed, one in each room, and room-specific scenes were screened during the performance. Person With Clipboard (PWC) had control of when the scenes were shown in between improvised performance. The film shows two people, Him and Her, who have mysteriously time travelled from the future to 2014. They arrive in Woman’s flat, where they get to know one another little before PWC instructs them to move to the kitchen where a conversation with Woman allows the unravelling of themes of domestic abuse and climate catastrophe. During the performance, Him and Her are dressed like PWC (in white shirts and black trousers) and observe the goings on, whilst Woman involves the audience in trying to work out why they have come back and what is going on. The film can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/90325374.

Written and directed by Julia Fry.
Camerawork by Ric Morris.
Actors:
Justine Smith – Her
Andrew Cain – Him
Ric Morris – Person With Clipboard
Julia Fry – Woman

Play In My Flat – documentation of dress rehearsal performance – 20 March 2014

This film is a documentation, using the camera on a Samsung Galaxy S2, of the dress rehearsal for the site-specific performance of Play In My Flat. Three screens showed scenes filmed previously in my flat. The three screens were installed, one in each room, and room-specific scenes were screened during the performance. Person With Clipboard (PWC) had control of when the scenes were shown in between improvised performance. The film shows two people, Him and Her, who have mysteriously time travelled from the future to 2014. They arrive in Woman’s flat, where they get to know one another little before PWC instructs them to move to the kitchen where a conversation with Woman allows the unravelling of themes of domestic abuse and climate catastrophe. During the performance, Him and Her are dressed like PWC (in white shirts and black trousers) and observe the goings on, whilst Woman involves the audience in trying to work out why they have come back and what is going on. The film can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/90325374.

Written and directed by Julia Fry.
Camerawork by Ric Morris.
Actors:
Justine Smith – Her
Andrew Cain – Him
Ric Morris – Person With Clipboard
Julia Fry – Woman

Play In My Flat – film

This film was displayed as part of a site-specific play/film/performance in my flat in Brighton, UK. The scenes were filmed in three rooms in my flat, lounge, bedroom and kitchen. Three screens were installed, one in each room, and room-specific scenes were screened during the performance. Person With Clipboard (PWC) had control of when the scenes were shown in between improvised performance. The film shows two people, Him and Her, who have mysteriously time travelled from the future to 2014. They arrive in Woman’s flat, where they get to know one another little before PWC instructs them to move to the kitchen where a conversation with Woman allows the unravelling of themes of domestic abuse and climate catastrophe. During the performance, Him and Her are dressed like PWC (in white shirts and black trousers) and observe the goings on, whilst Woman involves the audience in trying to work out why they have come back and what is going on.

Written and directed by Julia Fry.

Camerawork by Edmund Lloyd-Winder.

Actors:

Justine Smith – Her

Andrew Cain – Him

Ric Morris – Person With Clipboard

Julia Fry – Woman

Presentation of Play In My Flat to Moving Image, University of Brighton 27 March 2014

This film formed part of my presentation of the site-specific play / film / performance of Play In My Flat on Thursday 27 March 2014.

These are the notes I used:

Play

  • written November 2009
  • for 4 characters: Him, Her, PWC and Woman
  • tried to put it on before but didn’t work out
  • success of 2nd year show gave me confidence
  • rehearsed over 5 sessions in prep for filming
  • each scene would be one continuous shot
  • I planned activities for each rehearsal and was open to hearing what the actors needed; often we co-created workshops
  • I realised early on I needed to be able to delineate my roles because I had so many
  • we filmed the rehearsals from the beginning to get the sense of being watched as it was an important theme for the project
  • the fourth wall is broken often
  • we filmed it on 11 March 2014 and I’d like to thank Edmund Lloyd-Winder for his camerawork and observations
  • the final scene was 17 minutes long and I didn’t realise what a big ask it was of the actors until Edmund observed it

Film

  • the first 3 scenes and an edited 4th scene to give you an idea of themes

Performance

  • screens were fixed to the walls in the lounge, kitchen and bedroom and room specific scenes were screened in order
  • I’m going to show scenes and photos from the dress rehearsal, Fri night and Sat night in order to compare them
  • we had the camera on a small tripod for the first two shows and on the third Him held the camera and Her held the dictaphone instead of clipboards
  • general theme of confusion introduced at the start by asking the audience what they were doing there
  • Him and Her were dressed in white shirts and black trousers to match PWC. Research on time was pinned to my wall with red string (a loose connection to string theory) connecting points.
  • I’d like to thank Matt for installing and taking down the screens, with a little help from me.
  • Him and Her did not speak during the performance – their aim was to observe – Him observing me and Her observing the audience. My role was to try to work out why they’d come back and why the audience was in my flat.

Performance Friday

  • We decided to play it like we had on the dress rehearsal. The documentation wasn’t as successful as I would have liked – the camera didn’t follow the audience.

Performance Saturday

  • We decided to stage it slightly differently – instead of me coming out of my bedroom, shocked at the audience’s presence, when they’re in the hall I waited until they’d been in the lounge a while. We thought it might create more of a sense of confusion and not knowing what to do. Also, instead of clipboards, Him held the camera phone and Her held the dictaphone as recording devices. We set an intention of bringing the domestic violence theme out more in the interactions, which meant I had to pay more attention to the 4th scene filmed in the kitchen. Because of my personal history with the subject matter, I found this disturbing.
  • We realised that setting an intention allowed certain ideas to be expressed.

Wonder Land

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An initial drawing of a map of Wonder Land – adventure playground for grown ups – in preparation for a meeting with Sam of Bee Purple, University of Brighton’s entrepreneur advice centre. I came away with ideas for making a visual business plan and am going to use my independent project, which is the final project of my second year Moving Image degree, to create a model or process map or something that helps me and people who come to see it (so it will be exhibited somewhere) decide whether it’s a viable project. I have another meeting with Sam booked for 28 April 2014.

Play In My Flat – behind the scenes photos

Play In My Flat - behind the scenes photos

Can you crack the code? Person With Clipboard observes and makes notes about Woman during his time travelling events in Woman’s flat. What do the notes mean? Why is he observing Woman? Why does he seem to bring two conflicted people with him every time he visits?

In the Between TakesIn between takes. Edmund Lloyd-Winder (cinematographer), Ric Morris (Person With Clipboard) and Justine Smith (Her) take a break during filming, whilst the director (Julia Fry) pores over the footage in her bedroom.

Off Camera in the KitchenOff camera in the kitchen. Piling up the mess out of view of the lens allows the kitchen to look tidy on screen.

No Paparazzi, Please

 

No paparazzi, please! Justine practices for when she’s famous.

Ric Memorises His Lines

Ric uses a little-known method to memorise his lines.

Credit to Andrew Cain for taking the photos.

Play In My Flat is a site-specific play/film/performance; main themes are time travel, domestic abuse and climate catastrophe. Tickets to performances on Friday 21 March 7-8pm and Saturday 22 March 7.30-8.30pm are available here.

 

 

 

Play In My Flat – still from yesterday’s film shoot

Play In My Flat - still from yesterday's film shoot

This is a still from the final scene of the film shoot yesterday. Left to right: Julia Fry (me), Andrew Cain, Justine Smith, Ric Morris. There are some tickets left for the performances on Friday 21st March 7-8pm and Saturday 22nd March 7.30-8.30pm here.