Guest blog: Beta Public

When Pat and I are asked to talk about why we put together Beta Public, London’s only night of theatre and videogames, we’re tempted to talk about a lot of things. Like the similarities we see between theatre and gaming audiences, and why we’re frustrated they don’t talk to each other more. Like what each discipline can learn from the other, or how beautiful it is when performance becomes play (and vice versa).

Those ideas hold true, for sure. They’re the results of us, as curators, smashing together our respective interests, passions and careers. But we don’t put Beta Public together as some kind of dry-ass research experiment. We put it together because it’s fun.

We think it’s fun to invite our favourite artists and game designers to present work side by side, in front of (in our opinion) one of London’s friendliest audiences. At Beta Public, everyone is a player, a performer, a member of an audience; sometimes all at once! But importantly, they’re together, and when people are together, it’s nice if they’re invited to think and talk! That’s why we have Hannah Nicklin and Harry Giles– two of the most accessible and politically engaged young theatremakers working today – presenting two gorgeous playful performances, and Hamish Macpherson’s How Many Blocks To Build The Future?, a tabletop game about meeting strangers and imagining (and building) a new world.

Having fun is also about surprises. It’s fun to play a game with different parts of your body, or with someone you’ve never met. It’s fun to play a game laying inside of a tent (especially when that tent’s being rained on, as in Dreamfeel’s atmospheric Fluc)! Inspired by the surprise and delight Emma Bennett’s bewildering Slideshow Birdshow caused at Beta Public III, we’ve programmed a series of three WILD CARDS: performances by artists we think will blow our audience’s minds. Eleanor Foggbrings her hypnotic installation Selves Portrait; the brilliant Hester Chillingworth and Hana Tait perform their deadpan, improvised epic Agent Everywhere, and there’s new work from legendary performance wildmanGreg Mclaren.

Fun can be found in challenges, too. We’re excited to see our audiences get to grips with Pippin Barr’sDurations, a collection of games that push the limits of duration and imagination – games that take a minute to complete, or a week! And we think it’s fun to challenge artists like gonzo theatre shaman Christopher Brett Bailey and Lynchian playwright Nina Segal to write scripts for our series of live Let’s Plays, even though neither has played a videogame since Goldeneye in the 1990s!

But that’s what it all comes down to, right – theatre, games, art, life?

A series of meaningful interactions.

And the interactions that are the most live – the ones in which you feel anything can happen, in which the unexpected fantastically occurs, the ones fostered by the best artists and the most imaginative games makers – those are the most fun.

Fun doesn’t care if you know your Pinter from your Pro Evo, your Mario from your Mamet. Fun just wants to you to watch and play all of the above, and much, much more, at Beta Public, November 17th-19th. And so do we.

Pat and Tom x

Join Pat and Tom at Beta Public 5 from Tue 17 – Thu 19 Nov. FIND OUT MORE