Towards the end of 2019 we were invited to share a Coney project called Crowdplay at Fusion Urban Games Festival in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. A trilogy of deceptively simple games to be played in a public space in any town or city, Crowdplay has popped up in different cities and countries over the years. It’s made by Coney, represented by Will Drew, Kieran Lucas and Tassos Stevens, who shares more about the games here:
Crowdplay is three games in one contest, reflecting on the power of a crowd. Inspired in part by Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing In The Streets, Crowdplay was originally designed as part of a rather baroque piece of playing theatre back in 2013. Will Drew and myself then developed them for the brilliant games festival WOOT by Copenhagen Games Collective in 2014 – where I first met jedi master of play, Bernie De Koven – and most recently to the remarkable city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria for the Fusion Urban Games Festival as part of the City of Culture celebrations.
Crowdplay makes much more sense on the street than it does in a theatre space, for the simple gesture of occupying space – in Plovdiv, on steps alongside a busy shopping street. With a tipping point of players to be visible as something interesting is happening here, and with the help of our Bulgarian translator and a PA, Will and I invited passers-by to join.
The games involve teams simultaneously playing as a crowd, milling through a play space marked out with chalk, and playing as police, surveying the crowd – first of all to spot the ‘leader’, then to spot contraband – beans being smuggled – and then against dancing.
Hands down my favourite moment of play in Bulgaria was by a young local girl in a hoodie, nonchalantly walking through the crowd, while her team dropped beans into her hood unseen by the police.
Crowdplay at Fusion Urban Games Festival, Plovdiv. Images © Rosina Pencheva / studio PUNKT