SERIOUS FUN

There has been an increasing trend in urban explorations to draw on gaming and play as means to develop alternative visions and uses of city spaces. It is assumed that fun offers a unique way of drawing in different kinds of people to address sensitive issues in a non-threatening way. SERIOUS FUN explores this assumption through researching and experimenting at the intersection of playful participation, creative practice and serious urban issues. Henri Lefebvre and Michel De Certeau speak about the notion of critical spatial practice, a term that describes both everyday activities and creative practices which seek to resist the dominant social order, and spaces of resistance where invention and imagination flourish. Keeping in mind this notion of critical spatial practice, three of the urban issues for which games, in the form of performative installations, have been developed, are about participatory planning, climate change, and the food security system.

It has been essential that the conceptual framework from which our games have been developed, is rooted in games for the purpose of conscientising about the issues connected to the city of Cape Town and its environment. For this reason we have looked to the writings of Augusto Boal and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, both of whom have a background in applied theatre. Boal is known particularly for his Theatre of the Oppressed. He designed games for the purpose of conscientising, by engaging the audience as active participants, getting them to know their bodies. It was through this activation of the passive audience, and body, where information could be passed on, and a conscientisation coud take place. Ngũgĩ’s essays on Decolonizing the Mind, and in particular, Decolonizing the Theatre, using applied theatre as a tool for decolonizing mindsets, reinforced the notions that Boal speaks of.

It has been out of Boal and Ngũgĩ that we have realized, in order to create games that aimed to conscientize, we have to consider the body and the mind as foremost in this interaction. If we consider the word Environment (or Environmental) as being environ (from the french), meaning surroundings, space, place, and ment or mental, meaning of the mind, it becomes obvious that it is the environment of Cape Town, the City, that would be transformed as the Body and Mind of its people. Thus, bringing us back to Lefebvre and De Certeau, these games have been rooted in the City, the Body and Mind; as spaces of resistance where invention and imagination can flourish.

Check out the videos below to see the games we developed.

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SERIOUS FUN | legocity

The African Centre for Cities and dala collaborated with a group of young adults who were part of the Magnet Theatre, and were residents of Khayelitsha and surrounds, to engage in a playful participatory planning session on how they envision the city they live in. The workshop asked the group to revisit their understanding of a house versus that of a home, and to then build their dream home out of lego pieces. They then brought their homes together in the kind of design they would envision for a community they would want to live in.

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SERIOUS FUN | food for thought

The African Centre for Cities and dala devised a participatory public performance that engaged with the public’s understanding of food security and nutrition in Cape Town. The game was designed around an installation of shopping trolleys. The installation served both as a prop, and as a visual description of how food security in South Africa works, from the small trader to the franchise supermarket. Willing participants were asked to shop for a meal within the limitations of differing starting budgets. These budgets determined how they chose to interact with the installation, and what food products they purchased. With the assistance of performers and facilitators, the purchases were then weighed against the nutritional index, and from that a short discussion with a food expert took place.

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SERIOUS FUN | climate for change

The African Centre for Cities and dala devised a game based on work done by researchers at UCT and the City of Cape Town. Their research looks at the contested nature of addressing climate risks along Cape Town’s coastline, particularly relating to rising sea levels and big storms. Cape Town’s coastline and the development of a protective coastal urban edge, a setback line, have been caught between three main tensions: socio-economic pressures for urban development, physical pressures of the ocean, and pressures on coastal ecosystems, all three of which are operating in and competing for that same space in the coastal zone.
This contested setback line, and the resulting tensions as well as uncertainties of both decision making and tipping points, were put into play in the form of a Tug of War. However, unlike the classic tug of war, the rope, as star representative of the setback line, had to be handled carefully by participants in order to avoid various negative outcomes.
To view the booklet from which the research of this performance is based, please go to weadapt.org/placemarks/maps/view/943

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Compliments and Complaints

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9 urban biotopes durban presents : Compliments and Complaints

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Durban : A Marketplace Takes Action

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