With a little help from your friends: Exchanges with the Network of Coney

The new year has arrived, and as well as ushering in projects a-plenty (more on those here, if you like) it has us eager to dive back into sharing play with the creative makers of the Network of Coney. With the first Exchange of the year just around the corner, we don’t have long to wait at all.

An Exchange is an open and playful workshop for makers of all kinds to share experience and practice. You may have specific questions that you’d like to bring to the group or ideas you’re thinking about that you’d like to explore – or you might like to just show up and discover what it’s all about. Either way, you’re welcome.

One such maker is Naresh, who has been sharing and playing with us since July’s Masterclass in Making Interactive Theatre. Read on for his take on exchanging with the Network.

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Naresh, centre, pondering over a manifesto at the Masterclass in Making Interactive Theatre.

It probably started in the 90s.

Those of us who are old enough to remember might look back and reflect that it all got a bit corporate. Where once was punk and squatting was now Britpop and property guardianship.

From the anarchic to the anodyne.

That’s not to say things some good things didn’t happen. They certainly did. Just perhaps that somewhere along the line the independent arts scene started to get a bit dull. Lost its edge.

More about the progression than the expression.

The current age is not much better. Ongoing funding crises in the arts (is it still a crisis if it lasts for ever?) and a rampant gentrification hose have washed away many independent alternative spaces.

Technology and a new interactive language have disrupted the old world. There are networking meetups & Facebook talking shops.

Yet for all the noise of change where are the places to genuinely collaborate, experiment and simply play?

That’s what makes the Coney Exchange so good.

It’s a coming together of like-minded souls to share, playtest & feedback on whatever experiences people want to present. Who has something to present? How long does each of you need? Done. A rough plan of action is established.

And then we’re off.

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The fantastical clay-monster of the October Exchange.

Fantastical monsters made from spontaneous ideas and plasticine. Fairy tales reconstructed. Coin jousting. Anything goes.

You needn’t worry about not having your own version of Early Days or The Drowned Man to bring with you. It is enough to come and take part.

They didn’t change the locks on my second visit and all I turn up with is some opinions and a hunger for free biscuits (at least the biscuits go down well).

In an age where many people talk interactive there are ironically few places to play interactive. Not so the Exchange. That’s what makes the exchange one the few precious oases out there. 

The chance to engage with and learn from a variety of practices and skillsets is priceless. And fun.  

Just for the simple glorious joy of it.

Those makers and artists among you who like the sound of exchanging playful practice, we invite you to join the Network of Coney – a community of likeminded makers with whom we create events and projects.

And for those of you already part of the Network – we hope to exchange stories and toolkits with you in the very near future.

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