Stop. Collaborate & Listen.
Collaboration is the flavour of this post. Mufti are now officially a team! Having hired a Company Manager - Jenny - Mufti has moved beyond an extension of Malcolm, to being a proper organisation. As a result my wellbeing has bloomed! There are now 3 of us: Bryony, Jenny and myself and this newfound happiness has made me reflect on times when I’ve felt alone as a creative freelancer.
In March 2017 I was feeling lost and lonely. I needed new friends and collaborators. Mufti as it stood, was in a funny place and I needed a new adventure. I was getting knock backs left, right and centre. I was skint and I was seriously considering (shock horror) packing it all in and getting a real job.
I had applied for a Leverhulme Scholarship to develop my practice around play and was anxiously waiting to hear back. I had heard of a legendary play festival called W00t in Copenhagen and thought this might be the tonic I needed. I typed the name into (insert search engine here) but it had faded into history, like Marty McFly’s fingers playing Earth Angel. W00t was gone. In it’s space however was Counterplay ……..
“The CounterPlay festival invites playful people from around the world to join the most caring, generous, inclusive and vibrant play community on a remarkable journey into the world of play. We welcome everyone eager to understand play better, no matter your background. If you wish to learn more about why play is essential for learning, working and living, this is for you.”
Wow!! Could a more timely invite ever have appeared? At once I was smitten and resolved to get to Counterplay, by hook or by crook. The festival takes place in Aarhus, Denmark. (next one is 4-6th April, tickets still available!)
I was broke, but determined, so dug around and found someone to ask about my options. If I got myself there, could I maybe volunteer at the festival? (read “ Hi! Please can I come?! I’m playful, I’ll work hard, I’m nice…. I can make coffee.. I can put up posters, pick up litter? Cook? anything, everything…I really want to be your friend…..” )
Mathias, one of the founders and organisers was brilliantly helpful and totally accommodating. I booked buses, flights and Airbnb, packed a bag of nonsense and I was off.
The festival completely blew my mind. Attendees were from so many walks of life-education, psychology, theatre, music, video gaming, corporate coaching, sciences. Everyone was linked by a desire to make the world a more playful place. Make the world better, through play. I was wonderful to find this community. Arriving on Thursday morning at Dokk1 (an amazing library space) I was asked to help set up rooms and assist facilitators with their sessions. I took part in debates, built dens, learned to make alt controllers from tin foil, played traditional danish folk games, and played and played and played…. I was hooked.
While in Aarhus, I got a call from Emma Bettridge at Bristol Ferment- I’d been awarded the Leverhulme Scholarship, Woah! I was a play scholar! I could afford to be there!
Counterplay was a life changing experience for me. I realigned myself as a play maker and pushed play as a method for good, to the front of my agenda. I met an amazing group of people and discovered a new drive in life. At the end of the festival, we started looking at ways to stay connected. I’ll write about that in my next post. So, this is a reminder to myself as much as anything- whenever you are stuck, lonely and lost, look up and out, get searching for new adventures, reach out & collaborate!
We’re always up for hearing from people who want to collaborate. If you are interested in working with us , do get in touch.