There is no doubt that this year has been hugely unexpected, and frightening at times. Here at Coney, we’ve been busy making work to bridge connections across the world, creating the conditions for play that might, hopefully, spark change in individuals, families and communities.
Two shows that have offered some particularly magical moments are Telephone and Escape Zoom. Read on to find out our favourite stories – and you can experience the shows first hand (and maybe create a few stories of your own) this week:
- Oxford Playhouse Season: Telephone – Thursday 15 October, & Escape Zoom – 17 October
- Voila! Europe Festival: Telephone – 12 – 17 November
From West Virginia to East Kazakhstan, Telephone has connected hundreds of players – whether that’s a connection to live performance, to long lost friends, or even completely new humans, for many, it’s been the start of something special.
Without giving away too much, part of the show invites audience members to share memories related to telephones. One evening, an audience member shared their childhood memory of the answering machine message their dad had recorded on their family phone. Upon hearing it recounted, another audience member immediately remembered that their dad had recorded the exact same message. A relic from some of the first answer machine manuals maybe? Or a lovely tear in the fabrics separating their parallel existences?
On another occasion, Player A in Staffordshire, was cast in a two-person interactive section. Immediately as they started to speak, Player B in New Zealand typed into the chat; A, is that you? The opportunity was too good to miss so B was cast, by the host, as the partner in the interaction. It turned out they are old friends and colleagues, who haven’t spoken in ten years, now on opposite sides of the world.
Finally, two players, unknown to each other before, enjoyed meeting so much that some weeks later, we’re told, one took the other on a virtual tour of their home town of Hobart in Tasmania. They’re still in contact, hoping to reciprocate soon.
Escape Zoom too, has this slightly magical potential.
Up to 8 Players join the Zoom call – some friends maybe and some complete strangers, anywhere in the world. We’ve had zoomers at 4am in Hong Kong play with friends in LA at 4pm!
Early on, getting to know players, we ask the most interesting thing the players have in common from their recent life experience in lockdown. The competition has been fierce; from proficiency in axe wielding, to goblin fighting, to sincere love of a particular Italian restaurant on Stroud Green Road in London, to the joy of celebrating a birthday on Zoom with 7 perfect strangers.
Potential spoiler. There MAY be some instances in this experience where players are asked to perform some tasks in unison. Some players, in spite of internet lags and the perils of remote communication, take this extremely seriously. See below:
Over to you guys for the sound effects xxx pic.twitter.com/LZtezAqBWc— louise mari (@louiseandnigel) August 12, 2020
I operated the majority of Coney’s Escape Zooms and to me, there’s a curious moment at the end of each performance – a little silence. None of us are sure where we’re going next, or what we’re going to do, on our own, in our spaces, without this group of people. It’s made me think about how difficult it was to log onto that first interactive Zoom, and how now, I can’t wait for the next.Eliza Cass, Escape Zoom Operator
And do keep an eye out for more announcements coming soon.
Coney is represented here by Ellie Browning, Harriet Bolwell, Eliza Cass, David Finnigan, & Tassos Stevens.