There’s a workshop we do called Making Play In Public Space, which teaches (amongst other things) the kind of covert play which is at the heart of the umbrella project A Tail Of Two Cities, a way of exploring public space where you’re also trying to blend in, so that no one who isn’t playing can tell that you’re playing. So whatever else you might be doing, you’re also playing a game of not being spotted. If you’re tailing someone (who’s in on it, obviously) then you’re both playing with a complicity that you both lose if anyone else (especially any authority, in the game or in the real world) can spot that you’re tailing.
Adventure 1 of A Tail Of Two Cities, for which we’re running a Kickstarter, starts its playing audience off extremely covertly…
There are some unexpected impacts of this style of play: you end up paying much better attention to what’s in play in the world around you (which can quickly get quite political), the play doesn’t disrupt the environment in the way a good street game will be a joyous explosion, and it’s curiously accessible because it sidesteps the common performance anxiety of looking silly. And it can be really exciting.
Myself and others have run versions of this workshop all over the world and for many different groups – in 2014 including in Philadelphia with New Paradise Laboratories, in Brooklyn with the NY Media Center, in Portstewart with Big Telly TC, and in Poznán with Generator Malta. But on Monday I had the pleasure of trying it out with a group of members of The Choir With No Name, who are a most brilliant choir of adults who have experienced homelessness or are otherwise vulnerable. This was a pilot, a first step towards a collaboration we’re developing with them and Crisis UK for some of the other work inside A Tail Of Two Cities.
Seven of the choir are here playing a little game from the workshop for you. Secret Agent With A Teabag is a very simple introduction to misdirection and how to blend in. One person in this line-up has a tea bag in one of their hands. Everyone in the audience is trying to guess which one has the tea bag. The line-up is trying to misdirect you: they win if no one guesses right.
So who do you think has the tea bag? If you want to make a guess and find out, send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re currently Crowdfunding to make the first adventure in A Tail Of Two Cities happen. Click here to read more about the project and explore the rewards on offer.