Welcome to this first newsletter .
For the older subscribers: the newsletter is the same, but I’m shifting across from Mailchimp. Substack is just a little simpler and hopefully cleaner for my purposes.
New subscribers: welcome! This is an occasional (~10 times per year) newsletter where I share news about projects I’m working on, upcoming performances and interesting dispatches from the world of climate science and the arts.
Like everyone, my plans for 2020 evaporated into thin air. My last three months in lockdown have involved a lot of reading, a little writing, and the occasional burst of existential panic. In between those poles, I’ve tried to use the enforced shutdown to do some reflecting on my own practice.
Some background: I’m a writer, theatre-maker and game designer who works with scientists. I create models of complex systems and possible futures that people can engage with, using narrative, design and gaming.
Sometimes these models take the form of big immersive theatre productions. Sometimes they’re small-scale games for people in a room. Sometimes they happen in theatres, sometimes in boardrooms, and sometimes on the street.
Over the last decade and a half, I’ve developed a particular working process - a method for engaging with research, thinking through systems and connecting audiences with scientific concepts. It’s not something I was trained in - it’s a practice I’ve learned through hands-on experimentation and collaborating with interesting people.
Until this year, I’ve never tried to capture this practice in any formal way - mostly due to lack of time. Now, thanks to the fact that all my projects have been cancelled or postponed, I’ve been able to reflect on my practice in a series of short essays.
New Rules for Modelling is intended as a kind of primer for artists working with scientists. The series documents some of the tools and techniques I use to collaborate with scientists, and shares some of the lessons learned through this work. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to a manifesto for my practice, and I’m excited to get to share it.
On a very different note: I’ve been keeping a kind of journal documenting the sights and sounds of London in covid lockdown. This is my attempt to ‘write this moment to memory’, as Dan Hill put it. Fragmentary images and observations - little snapshots of a city holding its breath.
My playscript 44 Sex Acts In One Week has just been shortlisted for the 2020 Griffin Award. It’s previously been nominated for the Patrick White Award and featured in the Traverse Theatre’s First Stages festival.
Writer Celina Valderrama is given one week to review a book entitled ‘The 44 Sex Acts That Will Change Your Life’. Unfortunately, the only partner she can find is her nemesis, animal activist Alab Delusa. As the two reluctant lovers take a journey through the landscape of kink, will their mutual hatred turn into something more?
I’ve posted a little extract of the script online here, if you’d like a taster.
On each flashdrive was a trove of audio recordings, transcripts, annotated documents, and - and the most fascinating playscript I’ve read in years. I wrote about the work here, including some reflections on the idea of ‘whistleblower art’.
For the time being, all these are digital - RSVP on the event page to receive details.
Tues 7 July - Break Into The Aquarium
Tues 14 July - New Rules for Modelling talk
Tues 25-Wed 26 Aug - Broken Hearts 2035: Politics and post-pandemic romance