Desire Maps

An interactive map-making performance

An in-development creative collaboration with Projekt Europa, in which audience members are invited to reimagine the geographical journeys of their ancestors.

Desire Maps is a participatory performance that invites audience members to redraw the journeys of their ancestors, step into their shoes and imagine a moment of choice – this way or that? If they could have taken a different route, where would they have gone? And where might they have ended up?

Author Robert Macfarlane calls desire paths ‘free-will ways’ – paths made over time by the wishes and feet of walkers, especially those paths that run contrary to design or planning. But not all journeys we make are ‘free-will paths’ – some choices to travel are forced upon us, or made by necessity rather than desire.

Desire Maps looks at the geographical journeys that brought us to where we are – the journeys that created us – and asks the audience to imagine a different reality for their ancestors. A gift to the past, from the future, and an opportunity to create a desire map for those that made us who we are.

One of the seeds inspiring the development of Desire Maps was a story-game called Crossed Paths, in which two players are invited to imagine a moment in alternate history about the crossing of paths between the grandparents (or other caring elders). Play Crossed Paths here. The research and development for Desire Maps also intersects strongly with our practice in exchange with researchers – including at UCL – exploring impacts of the climate crisis.

Are you interested in programming Desire Maps at your venue? Say hello at [email protected].

Watch the video

Filmed during a week of development at the National Theatre Studio in February 2024.

Image gallery


A collaboration and co-production between Coney and Projekt Europa.

Co-directors Maria Åberg and Tassos Stevens
Co-authors Akhila Khan, Maria Åberg and Tassos Stevens
Direction of live drawing and projection Akhila Krishnan
Performers in February 2024 R&D Ania Varez, Rudzani Moleya and Tara Fatehi

Video and photography credit: Ewa Emini

Development to date has been supported by Shoreditch Town Hall and the National Theatre’s Generate Programme.
Desire Maps will be part of the Pitch Programme at the Caravan Assembaly Showcase, as part of Brighton Festival in May 2024.