What happens to our relationship with play, how and why we do it, as we grow older? It’s something I’ve been pondering lately, so I was lucky to be able to take a peek at a preview for a new performance by Young Scot Award finalists Creative Electric. This work combines sound, performance, light and video in an interactive space, creating a uniquely playful environment. Just to give one example, beyond the pile of balloons on the floor pictured above, hanging from the ceiling were even larger balloons, each with a speaker inside of it playing music that could be arranged on the spot by swinging, bouncing, or holding the balloons still. The source of this playfulness? Potentially a 5 year old “play specialist” listed on staff.
The performance is a response to PJ Palacio’s novel of the same title, and also incorporates themes of kindness and human connection. But the theme of play is what really stuck with me. To children, play is productive, exploring a cardboard box or the backyard or even a new video game is an end in itself. Only as we get older does it become a means to relax, to take our mind off of the “serious” aspects of our lives. And even then, especially with video games, our play becomes more associated with goals, use, completion, scoring, rather than just exploration and discovery for their own sake. Can someone be a play specialist when they’ve left their childhood behind, or is it a post only a 5 year old can fill?
I don’t know if I have the answer, but be sure to check out Creative Electric’s page on Wonder to see when and where the next shows will be.