Everything Coney make involves play, and that means it needs to be playtested. This process is when we invite a playing audience to come and try the work-in-progress, to let us know what’s good and what needs tweaking. Interacting with a real audience for the first time is one of the most exciting parts of the making process, and a key part of making sure it all holds together.
We’ve been playtesting The Droves this week, ahead of opening the show to audiences tomorrow. One of our playtesters was Alejandro de Mesa, a longstanding member of the Network of Coney with some fantastic superpowers, whose journey with us has gone from attending a Masterclass in 2015, to performing with Coney in Your Connection Is Not Private. Alejandro is currently working on ‘2See & 2BeSeen‘ a queer post-Brexit Pan-American monodrama set in 2021 about live art, auto-fiction, solidarities and rights to remain.
Read on to find out about Alejandro’s experience of The Droves.
My favourite thing about Coney’s work is that it always makes me feel unique and special, regardless of where the experiences come from. But ever since I read that The Droves was created and performed by young people (some very young), I though it would be worth taking this into consideration when going to their playtest.
From the very first moment, I couldn’t help thinking how well they were inhabiting the world they had created, how the lines were delivered with energy and intention, how powerfully the ensemble were working together to tell the story – because after all, they are kids.
The journey ended upstairs where it had started, and the company joined us to exchange experiences, like you do when you are play-testing. Everything seemed right to me. It was incredible that children could come up with such a universe. But yes, there’s something I’d like to say: I would have loved to have agency to dig deeper throughout the game.
Why didn’t I just do it? Why didn’t I behave like I do when I am part of other interactive experiences? Why didn’t I ask questions? Why didn’t I try harder to get what I wanted? Was it perhaps because I was trying to hold part of their responsibility as theatre-makers?
And then I thought: Is that what I do when I interact with young people? Do I hold back? Do I throw in my prejudices about age, and restrain the possibilities of what can sprout out of our interaction?
It was a good playtest. I think that if I come back next week I will trust them. I will let them be in control and do their part as I allow myself to commit fully with the game, with the adventure, with The Droves.
Opportunities to playtest for Coney are shared through our Network, an open group of artists and makers who share and collaborate at events like our regular Exchanges. If you’re interested in playtesting Coney’s work, meeting like-minded creators, or just want to say hi, we’d like to invite you to join the Network of Coney. We can’t wait to hear from you!