Up Front by Emma Hart


P.A. Story

A while back, Russell got in touch with a proposition. Junket to Auckland, if I could produce some kind of performable collaborative art project. The response was, as you can probably imagine, a heady combination of "W00t!" and "oh fuck."

 I mean, I write, right. I have one performance skill and it's the ability to make Thomas the Tank Engine sound like pornography. Funny as that is, I don't think I could sustain ten minutes of "Thomas was a little engine with a long tongue..."

 And then it struck me. It took me only several days to realise that I actually produce collaborative art all the damn time, at Bardic Web. What we do is kind of like a combination of writing and theatresports. So, in what might be a complete disaster, because as far as I know it's never been tried before, I'm going to try to adapt one of our games to produce a collaborative story that'll be read aloud (by me) on the night, and available for download afterwards.

 Who will I be collaborating with? You guys.

 No, seriously. I love you guys. The last couple of years, Public Address System has been there for me through brain surgery, earthquakes, and the death of my mother. You've made me feel supported, and just as importantly, you've made me laugh. And that's my brief for the night. The others will hit the deeper notes. David and I, our job is to make you laugh. And I can't think of a bunch of people I'd rather Make Art with.

 So here's what yous and I will be doing over the next couple of weeks, using PAS and Twitter. We're going to write a story. Right now, I have absolutely no idea what about. That's where you guys come in. Give me ideas. Themes, genres, settings, characters, lines, dialogue, short paragraphs, objects, incidents. I'll write the story using as many of them as I possibly can. Leave them here, or on Twitter using the hashtag #pastory.

 Every now and then I will interrupt the process and say something like, "Okay, here are the last two lines, tell me what happens next," or "Okay, stop, now give me an object to find."

 Play off each other. Safe to say no suggestion will be rejected for being too fucking ridiculous. (Giant mutant space weta? Right you are.) Contributions become more likely to be used for being short (say, no more than fifty words) and funny. Bounce ideas off each other. PLAY. To be honest, if the end product is completely incoherent, I won't care if we've had fun. But I'm betting I can construct something out of your chaos that's worthy of the spirit of this place.

 I'll give you our starting setting: it's the Red Zone. Now, you give me:

-          a type of story to tell. That's genre, but also... object quest? Journey of self-discovery? Harrowing of hell? I'll probably combine two or three of the least sensible of these

-          a cast. Names, occupations, character traits

 All other contributions are welcome all the time, I just want to make sure I get those things in amongst it all.

 Okay, let's go. I can't wait to see if this is actually possible. And with any luck, you can hear me telling the story of your bongo-playing corgi in a voice that'd make the Rev. W. Awdry Really Uncomfortable.

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

(Click here to find out more)

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