The International Playable Theatre Lab starts today!

This morning I’m dusting off our Gather space, checking our Zoom links and finally figuring out how to manage Discord, because today we’re kicking off the first ever International Playable Theatre Lab.

The IPTL is a two-week-long online residency for artists interested in exploring playable theatre techniques and approaches, supported by the British Council’s Digital Collaboration Fund. Six selected Participating Artists (this year, they’re in Mexico and North Macedonia) are paid to spend a fortnight on the residency, in which they’ll be both attending workshops delivered by leading playable theatre makers, and having time to develop their own playable theatre projects.

The IPTL grows out of some of the artist development work we’ve been doing in the UK. Since 2016, we’ve run DARE Festival as a way of supporting artists and companies to make new work. Each DARE artist takes part in a programme of artist development workshops, including tailored support for each artists’ project. For DARE 5 this February, we took the whole festival online. It was a steep learning curve but we were really thrilled with the results. Since then, we’ve been running our series of Make Theatre Playable online workshops over Zoom, which have been attended by theatremakers from Balham to Boston.

We want to keep making playable theatre training accessible to artists all over the world, and thanks to the British Council we’ve been able to put together this first ever International Playable Theatre Lab. British Council funding for the project means that not only are we able to bring together an amazing group of Mentor Artists to share their knowledge, but we’re also able to pay the selected artists in Mexico and North Macedonia to participate in the programme. This is hugely important for us – just like in the UK, training and development opportunities are really hard to access in Mexico and Macedonia, and we want to give our Participating Artists the time and space they need to get the most out of the programme.

For this first iteration of the IPTL, Upstart has partnered up with some old friends. Ivica Dimitrijevic of Mi Film in Macedonia, who was the director of The Libation Bearers as part of The Chorus Project last year. And Aaron Hernandez Farfan, of Teatro al Cubo in Mexico, attended the Goethe-Institut’s Forum on Cultural Management and Cultural Policy with me back in 2016, when we we’d just finished Phone Home and were just starting to plan Chorus. It’s been so great getting to reconnect with them over the last few months as we’ve been planning this Lab.

We’re also lucky to have an incredible cohort of Mentor Artists who’ve been working in playable theatre here in the UK as well as further afield. You can find out all about them, and about our Participating Artists, on the International Playable Theatre Lab page.

It’s been a tough 18 months for artists and theatremakers everywhere so I feel very lucky to be able to kick off this project today. We’ll be sharing updates and insights here on our website, and on our social media pages. Here we go!


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