ACE-funded research and development : 2018-2019


          *desire path   /dɪˈzʌɪə/pɑːθ/

                  A desire path is a path created as a consequence of erosion caused by human or animal foot-fall traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.

Funded by the Arts Council of England Developing Your Creative Practice fund, this project explores the possibilities of creating a site specific dramatic musical work embedded in the real world location of its story and experienced through the use of mobile devices, their GPS functionality and headphones. Rather than placing it's narrative in interior spaces the work offers up the sounds, music, voices, characters and stories of the exterior urban human landscape.

The project furthers the creative collaboration between Martin Ward and the acclaimed playwright and librettist Phil Porter. Their originally-devised story is set in a fictional present day, identical to our own save for the existence of a mysterious Resistance, formed to oppose the dangers of a corrupt, all-seeing authority. The work immerses its individual audience members into this clandestine conflict.

The technology involved opens unique doors of participation - some of the musical content asks the listener to stand still and absorb a location and its impact on the story or its characters but much of the work is about movement, about the dynamic experience of passing through a location, of walking down a street, of mingling with a location's inhabitants. Some moments are observational, some are deeply intimate and personal, others intensely dramatic.

The audience experience is an immersive, intimate and private one - channelled through device and headphones - it is one-to-one with narrator and characters and it requires a necessary level of physical real-world interaction. It also suggests game-like elements of puzzle-solving and intrigue.

The work has been developed in partnership with the globally renowned theatre and education company C&T and uses their award-winning technology Prospero to curate the audience journey and experience. Prospero is a powerful interactive tool which has been developed for use in creative education workshops but which also has immense potential beyond the classroom. The Desire Path is the first use of the technology outside of an education setting, in a collaboration which has greatly energised and driven the research and development aspects of the project for both partners.

The choice of The Desire Path as a working title reflects the work's exploration of the binary organic relationship between the urban citizen and their environment; how cities are shaped by their human inhabitants and vice versa; how the remnants of a place's history may yet shape the realities of that location today. By these routes the work finds its way into the sphere of Psychogeography*...

          *psychogeography   /ˌsʌɪkəʊdʒɪˈɒɡrəfi,ˌsʌɪkəʊˈdʒɒɡrəfi/

                  1. the study of the influence of geographical environment on the mind or on behaviour.

                  2. the geographical environment of a particular location, typically a city, considered with regard to its influence on the mind or on behaviour.

...and the work also considers character's histories as existential desire paths in themselves, timelines waymarked by choices made and the traces and tracks those steps have left on the lives of others.

The content of the work explores the unique qualities, sights, stories, populace and histories of the performance location and for this test project the setting is contained on London's South Bank between the Royal Festival Hall and Blackfriars Bridge. The potential exists (and is being explored) however, for wider-ranging, possibly city-wide or festival-wide, settings for future fully-developed works.

The project is currently in a phase of Beta-testing. To express interest and receive updates go to the contact page of this website or check back on this webpage for news and access to its full public launch in January 2020.

MW : October 2019