First four months of 2018

It’s May 2018! There’s a lot going on. Gonna try and put some of it down in one place, just so I can see myself where I’m at.

Bec and I finished up in London late last year. At the beginning of December I got a plane to the Philippines. Spent two weeks in Manila, a new project with Sipat Lawin: Are You Ready To Take The Law Into Your Own Hands? It’s a big show – an action film and a jukebox musical showcasing the world of Filipino pop music.

As well as being a big colourful spectacle full of fight scenes and dance sequences, it’s also a work with a very specific tone and some key ideas, and if we don’t land those elements then the play loses most of its force and intent. So I spent quite a bit of time in conversation with JK, Ness, Alon, Ienne, Clyde, Ji-ann and Joelle, trying to articulate those more subtle elements.

Back to Australia for christmas/new years, and then in early January, I got on a plane to Singapore with Nikki, Nathan, Rachel, Muttley and Gillian, for a month-long development of a new work at Earth Observatory Singapore, Nanyang Technological University.

The Earth Observatory is a research institution funded by the Singapore government to study natural disasters in the south-east Asian region. The scientists there look at volcanoes, typhoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, mudslides and lightning storms. Their goal is to help make Singapore – and the rest of Asia – more resilient to natural hazard crises.

Boho’s brief was to create a new game – or, in fact, a series of games – looking at the period just pre-disaster: from the first warning signs to the moment of impact. When it comes to earthquakes and tsunamis, the period from first warning to impact is usually measured in minutes – which limits the kinds of decisions you can make. For that reason, our brief was to explore two natural hazards which do give you some kind of notice: typhoons and volcanoes.

 Gills’ design work here was out-of-control gorgeous, as usual

Over January – February, we created a series of short modular games looking at different aspects of the pre-disaster system: the challenges faced by local government in planning evacuations, the difficulties that scientists face in communicating uncertainty, the complex requirements each of us need fulfilled in order to be able to evacuate our home.

It was tough, as a month-long development always is, especially when you’re living out of hotel rooms in a foreign city. But it was smooth, too. It feels like our process is getting clearer and cleaner the more we work at it. There were some pieces we created that I’m really proud of – though I also left feeling like we could have done a whole lot more.

We had one of those moments that completely justifies the entire existence of collaboration, though. Muttley and I came up with a rough sketch for a game called Busy Mayors – a planning scenario for a group of local government officials trying to run an election campaign in the onset of a possible typhoon. The game is built on a lo-fi probability engine (aka the chance-o-gram) that Muttley designed, which looks like this. The genius moment came when we were trying to figure out how to scale it up for two teams of players – and Muttley, while working on another game entirely, came up with the idea of having two towns in the path of the typhoon – one will definitely be missed, and one will definitely be hit.

I know it doesn’t make a lot of sense written down like this, but trust me, that insight turned it from a playful activity into a game.

Gillian’s design was absolutely stunning – gorgeous tactile pieces evoking different south-east Asian building styles. And Nikki came up with a superb name for the show: ‘Get The Kids And Run’. EOS have pointed out, quite rightly, that it’s not an accurate name for the games we’ve made or the point we’re making, so it will get renamed at some point. But as a working title, I like it the most.

Then there was Kill Climate Deniers at Griffin, and all that noise and chaos. That was a lot of fun, that was a joy on every level.

Pic by Bryony Jackson

And in amongst it, Reuben and I presented our Kill Climate Deniers dance party event at Arts House as part of the Festival of Live Art. Over two Fridays in March, we busted out the solo show complete with Reuben’s blistering DJ set, which was a magic way of diffusing all that energy. I love getting to dance with an audience, I love it the most.

Reuben totally nailed the DJ sets, too. The first week was badass enough (happy watching the crowd lose it to Baby D’s Let Me Be Your Fantasy), but the second week was even more glorious. He closed out the set by mixing to a hardcore acid house banger, leaving his laptop up on stage and jumping down into the dancefloor with us – as Jordan said, the DJ equivalent of pointing the car at the pier, putting a brick on the accelerator and leaping out of the window.

Pic by Bryony Jackson

Now I’m in England, back working with Coney, and at the same time, Jordan and I are sending back and forth new drafts for CrimeForce: LoveTeam, which will go up onstage at Nesta’s FutureFest this July.

But it’s 5.45am at an airport right now, that feeling.