Friday, 27 June 2008

Stanford Prison Experiment

There's a whole weekend of fun and games at the South Bank under the title Hide and Seek. It's a mixture of pervasive gaming, theatre, etc etc. I went to check out the launch night last night, agreeing to play the role of a border guard in Andy Field's Checkpoint game. AF, as several people have pointed out, including Andy himself, is very sweet in real life despite being passionate-to-the-point-of-appearing-angry about all things theatre-related on the page.

If only I could say the same about myself. As we were briefed on our roles as border guards, talk naturally turned to the Stanford Prison Experiment, which had to be terminated early when things got out of hand. The Checkpoint game started a little late - who can say whether this was a fiendish psychological trick or merely the natural outcome of getting involved in experimental theatre?

The point of Checkpoint (in brief) is for players to smuggle the contents of a room from one place to another. The border guards have to stop them. I'm afraid to say that most of the players were terrible cheats - although they will have thought they were being ingenious and revolutionary. I'm not sure that I am very well-suited to a) playing games b) being an authority figure c) ever leaving the house.

As it was a VIP launch last night (my companion looked around in vain for the likes of Penelope Wilton but it wasn't that kind of theatre) all the great and the good from the world of pervasive games and experimental theatre were represented. At one point, I had hold of Jane McGonigal's delicate little wrist, convinced she was cheating - if you have ever watched Prisoner Cellblock H think Joan 'the freak' Ferguson confronting Kylie Minogue* - and I thought I'm just not sure this is where I want to be in my life right now. Consequently, I'm off to the country for a week to do some experimental theatre of my own and hope to return more Minogue than Ferguson.

See you in a bit.

* Yes, I know Kylie wasn't in Prisoner Cellblock H but I want you to imagine the scene and JMcG looks a bit like KM, only younger.


westendwhingers said...

I'm flattered but bemused that the "my companion" link is actually to Prisoner Cell Block H.

Or did you mean to link straight through to the Lizzie Birdsworth page? In which case, entirely understandable.

Helen Smith said...

An honest mistake... or was it? Anyway, I have fixed the link now. Strictly speaking, I was actually your companion for the evening - I'm sure there's a hierarchy and certainly, you invited me. But it all takes too long to explain in a blog post without endless Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell type footnotes, which would get rather wearing.