On Thursday 26th March the long awaited guide to the arts and social change, Playing for Time – Making Art as if the World Mattered was launched at the Free Word Centre in London.
Its author, theatremaker (and TFP’s much valued arts correspondent), Lucy Neal has been involved in producing this groundbreaking handbook for nearly four years. Published by Oberon Books, it showcases collaborative arts practices that join the dots between the ‘macro’ stories of climate change, energy depletion and economic collapse and the individual stories of artists and activists who are rethinking the future and creating a new story to live by. As one of the book’s endorsers, writer Stella Duffy, says, it’s a book filled ‘with wings: wings that are ancient practices, that are community arts, modernity, wings of global learning for local concerns…a book to help us grow.’
As well as describing the key drivers of change and giving practical ‘recipes for action’, ‘transitional arts practice’ is detailed for the first time, as it emerges in neighbourhoods and on high streets, in apiaries and allotments, up mountains, in law courts, kitchens and village halls (and occasionally in theatres, galleries and museums).
In its 400+ pages 64 storytellers, makers, craftivists, land journeyers and writers demonstrate how a new dynamic culture is shifting our values away from consumerism and commodity towards community and collaboration, with imagination, humour, ingenuity, empathy and skill.
Contributors include energy expert Paul Allen from the Centre for Alternative Technology; writer Paul Kingsnorth; post-growth economics campaigner Beth Stratford; Brixton Remakery’s Hannah Lewis; Scotland’s Dougie Strang; Graeae theatre director Jenny Sealey; playwright and activist Sarah Woods; Platform’s Farzana Khan and many more.
When the facts and figures of climate change cannot catalyse the shifts needed in our world, the arts can open us to different ways of seeing and feeling, creating emergent space to rethink the future and change the world – collectively. With poetry and metaphor they can explore the language of the heart, the pain of what we’re losing and the deep yearning in us for the restoration and celebration of life. (Lucy Neal
You can order books from oberonbooks.com. Images: cover for Playing for Time by Hey Monkey Riot; Lady of Tooting in Trashcatchers’ Carnival, Tooting, 2009.