23 February 2021

DARE Festival 5, 2021: Meet The Isthmus Project Creators

DARE Festival is back with more inventive, unexpected and challenging new interactive work for audiences who want to play, and this year we’ve gone virtual so you can take part from wherever you are.

We got chatting to Abby+Alice, whose playable experience The Isthmus Project is an interactive game played between the performers and the audience that demystifies and reimagines England’s land system. Created with Solidaritree.

Can you tell us about The Isthmus Project?

The Isthmus Project came from being at home during the pandemic with little access to green spaces, without work for a long time, and interrogating what that meant for us and our neighbours. Unequal access to land is particularly stark in England, where land ownership is often inherited (1% of the population own 50% of England) and the system favours the privileged: it actively upholds race and class inequality, from the homes available to the quality of community infrastructure in their proximity.

Isthmus is a game developed by the 5 of us, with backgrounds in design, art, science and policy, to make something that can get people talking about this stuff. It aims to demystify and reimagine the complex systems that are pretty overwhelming, but underpin a lot of what’s unjust in our world.

The fun comes from really being a character in this future world we’ve built, working within a community to find solutions for issues that, though fantastical in some ways, are based on actual evidence and projections of what we know about our world now.

How have you adapted your performance to be portrayed digitally?

In the future, we plan for Isthmus to be a physical tabletop game that can be played at home or in a live space. For DARE Festival, we’ve adapted to work in Wonder: a platform we think feels the most like playing in a space with other people. We stumbled across this in a German conference about games!

We’ve been quite focused on the world building and storytelling element of our game during the DARE Festival development, which has meant us all working a bit out of our comfort zone in virtual making. That was really fun, I think we’ve all discovered skills we didn’t know we had.

How have you found rehearsing while observing social distancing or rehearsing online? 

We messed about on Zoom for a while, but soon found our home in co-working on Discord across ever multiplying Google docs, Miro boards and Twine. It’s been pretty amazing as we’ve built such a strong team but never met each other in real life!

Which of the other DARE Festival shows are you especially excited to see?

Hard, they’re all excellent. Developing alongside other projects has been a really great part of the process – we’re booking our tickets to see as much as we can. We are excited to have a wander around ThisEgg and Camilla Clarke‘s & then everything just- to see how the environment has grown.

You can take part in The Isthmus Project and the full festival from Thu 25 – Sat 27 February. Click here to find out more.

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