THE ADULT PLAYGROUND
I WAS CURIOUS to know why people kept telling me that what I offered didn’t
exist any where else. So, I searched the World Wide Web. I typed the name THE
ADULT PLAYGROUND (which is what I called it at the time) into the search
engines and ... found a plethora of pornographic sites. I wasn’t surprised. My
choice of name was intentional – a provocative jab precisely at the fact that ‘the
adult playground’ is generally understood to refer to pornography; probably the
biggest and most profitable industry in the world, alongside chemistry and war
fare. These are not the games I play.
Other than that, I found one solitary company in America that provides Adult
Playgrounds for obese people; activity parks, they call them, with swings and
roundabouts and bouncy castles, designed to attract adults who don’t normally
take much physical exercise. It is not my intention to provide fun weight-loss
I changed the name. I now call it simply the Playground and that is how I refer
to it throughout the book. I continued my search.
In an artistic context, I found adult play groups all over Europe and America
that explore imagination, improvisation and self-expression in more or less exclusive
or overlapping cross-art-forms: experimental dance, contact improvisation,
clowning, fool work, comedy stand-up, forum theatre, playback theatre,
improvised street theatre, arts therapy and psychodrama. I include elements of
all of these forms of play in the Playground, so why were people telling me that
nothing like this exists elsewhere?
A very subtle, but major difference began to emerge. I found no other such
like Playground that explores professional acting techniques with the primary aim
of empowering individuals (both actors and non-actors) with essential LIFE and
Top stage and film acting techniques are usually taught in the context of
making people ‘stage or film worthy’. Furthermore these techniques are usually
only taught to a relative small minority i.e. those who are considered talented
enough to gain entry into top drama schools. Funnily enough, the ones that are
selected are usually those who demonstrate in some way that they already know
how to do it. Knowledge of this enlightening kind is guarded by ‘the
professionals’, like magicians guard their tricks of illusion.
I began asking myself two things: ‘Why shouldn’t the common player be
empowered by these top secrets, when the results are so clearly transformational?’
and ‘Why is there such a strong divide between theatre and life itself?’
The most obvious answer to the latter question is that life is ‘real’ and theatre
isn’t. Theatre and film are simulations of life. We dream of doing things on stage
and in film that we wouldn’t dream of doing in real life. Of course! But in my rather
anarchic mind this observation inspires far deeper questions about the very real
connection between life and imaginative play. I mean, how on earth do we create
the world we live in? The whole of life could be seen as a form of theatre or film.
One question led to another and in my on-going research I came across like
minds ... a whole zeitgeist phenomenon, if you like, that must have begun at
least two centuries ago ... alternative thinkers, writers, spiritual teachers,
psychologists, philosophers, actors, and theatre directors and yes, quantum
physicists and scientists too, who express opinions similar to mine. We are
In the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum reality,
things are considered to exist only to the extent that
they are observed. Consciousness is the observer.
David Ash, Vortex of Energy, 2012:127
In short, we are in need of nothing short of a revolution in our common
consciousness; a new general awareness of the potential of the human psyche,
imagination, intuitive intelligence and the real nature of the human mind. We
need an awakened perception of a universe, in which the word
‘separate’ no longer exists.
Sadly, in ‘reality’ we witness the opposite. The ‘success’ of industrial and
capitalist (profit orientated) progress has turned us into full time blinkered, left brained,
for the most part robotic and sedentary workaholics, living in our
separate little microcosms. Stressed out of our minds, isolated from each other
(apart from on Facebook), with no time to truly sense or dream, we have to
accept that we have been dumbed down to become willing and unwilling
consumers, money addicted slaves, albeit with a longer life expectancy, but
exhausted, dis-eased beings, who in their play time sit hypnotically captivated
by billion dollar films starring our favourite actors ... whom we attempt to
emulate or copy.
A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the
nations where capitalist civilization holds its sway. This
delusion drags in its train the individual and social woes
which for two centuries have tortured sad humanity. This
delusion is the love of work …
Paul Lafargue, 1883 The Right to be Lazy,
written in Saint Saint Pélagie Prison
So, let's play!