So the Best Festival Ever team is in Melbourne this week, currently doing some script tweaks and prop fixes, and tightening the screws on the work in preparation for our season here next week. Three years after Arts House supported an early development of the work in 2013, we’re finally bringing the full show here, as part of the Performing Climates program.

This is the fourth city in three countries we’ve brought Best Festival Ever to, and coming up on our fiftieth show. It’s pretty exciting to get to bring the work to Melbourne, to share it with some of our favourite collaborators and supporters.

It’s nice to have a few days to dive back into the script, to really drill down into some key questions around what exactly we want to communicate from systems science, and how we can best frame these key ideas. And, of course, to get to play with our music festival storyline, and make sure it’s exactly as delightful and ridiculous as it should be.

The most exciting part from our perspective, though, is the post-show conversations with scientists. This is a really key feature of the show, where we unpack some of the ideas from climate and systems science that have informed the making of the work.

This season, we’re honoured to be joined by scientists including Mark Burgman (University of Melbourne), Dave Winkler (CSIRO), Anne-Marie Grisogono (Flinders University), Kevin Grove (Florida International University), Lauren Rickard (RMIT) and David Batten (CSIRO).

Tuesday 5 July – Mark Burgman
Mark Burgman is head of the school of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Conservation Biology. He works on ecological modelling, conservation biology and risk assessment.

Wednesday 6 July – Dave Winkler
CSIRO scientist Dave Winkler works across radioastronomy and compututational molecular design. He’s published on nanotechnology and regenerative medicine, and his work is often concerned with applying the tools of small molecule research to complex biological systems.

Thursday 7 July – Anne-Marie Grisogono
Joining us from Adelade is physicist Anne-Marie Grisogono, currently an adjunct professor in the Engineering Faculty of Flinders University. Anne-Marie worked for more than 20 years with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, applying complex systems science to the defence problems faced by Australian troops during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

Friday 8 July – Lauren Rickards and Kevin Grove
Resilience experts Lauren Rickards and Kevin Grove join us from RMIT and Florida International University, respectively. Both have worked applying resilience thinking to disaster governance and emergency management in areas such as the Caribbean, and cases such as the Hazelwood Mine fire in Victoria.

Sunday 10 July – David Batten
CSIRO systems analyst David Batten works with computer models to tackle real world problems such as Australia’s electricity, transport and water systems. He’s written ten books exploring how modelling and simulation can help us get to grips with real world complexity.

These discussions unpack some of the ways scientists use systems thinking to get to grips with the complex challenges facing us today. For us as artists, Best Festival Ever was always intended to provide the platform for these sorts of conversations, and it’s pretty exciting for us to be able to bring on board scientists and thinkers of this calibre.

If you’re keen to come along, you can head to the Facebook event for more details of time and place, and to grab tickets.

It’s February, and we’re writing this from the shores of a frozen lake south of Stockholm.

It’s been a busy 2016 so far, starting with a profile about Boho in New Scientist magazine, alongside our good friends from Coney, written by Stewart Pringle:

Boho Interactive’s tagline, “we fight dirty for science”, neatly conveys the company’s urgency. Much of its work features fighting talk and disruptive activity.

The company has collaborated with the Stockholm Resilience Centre, a joint initiative of Stockholm University and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. The centre researches new ways of governing and managing human activity, taking into account the complex needs of the surrounding environment. In other words, it is looking for ways of doing business that don’t trash the planet.

It’s a grand mission, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be played on a grand scale. Boho’s projects include unpicking the systems that sustain a news stand in London’s Euston station. In its large-scale touring performance, Best Festival Ever, the company explores the complex interplay of processes in the management of a major music festival.

Go on, have a read.

We spent a week in January in London with Forum for the Future‘s Systems Innovations Lab. Forum uses systems thinking to help businesses and large organisations tackle sustainability challenges, and we’re hoping to work with them to develop a toolkit of games that they can use in their projects.

Right now we’re undertaking a month-long development in Sweden. Working with Stockholm NGO Miljöverkstan, we’re building a new game based on the Flaten nature reserve south of Stockholm.

Flaten is a lake, surrounded by beautiful forest (oaks, pine, spruce, trees 500 years old or more), and a place where a lot of different groups intersect – swimmers and dogwalkers, itinerant workers camping in caravan parks, squatter camps in the forest, the nearby suburb of Skarpnäck…

Miljöverkstan want to try to capture some of the complexity of the region in an interactive format, so they’ve invited us over to map the system with them and turn it into a game experience, a platform for learning and conversation.

This month we’re building a systems map and putting together a rough prototype of the show. We’ll be returning to Sweden in August and October to finish off the game, and present it for the first time to a Swedish audience.

This is a big project, with a short timeframe, but it’s exciting to be applying the tools we developed through Best Festival Ever to a real-world system.

Feel free to check out our process blog if you’d like to keep track of the creation of the work. As always, we’d love to hear from you with any thoughts, comments and ideas. And if you’re interested in any kind of collaboration or joint project, we’re starting to look towards 2017…

This is David, writing this at the end of our two week season of Best Festival Ever at the Street Theatre in Canberra. We are all pretty stoked with the last fortnight, feeling exhausted but energised at the same time. It’s been a pretty delightful way to bring the show home to Australia.

Back in 2008, the Street Theatre presented the first Canberra season of Boho’s first show, A Prisoner’s Dilemma. It feels like we’ve travelled a fair distance since then, so it was great to bring our most recent work home after three and a half years in development in the UK and Sweden.

It was a sell out season, so much so that we had to add an additional show, which feels pretty rockstar. (Though selling out your season when you only have a capacity of 30 may or may not be a particularly impressive achievement…)

The response from audiences was pretty lovely, and we had some really nice reviews, for example: ‘Boho’s approach is innovative, entertaining and illuminating … their latest production is a revelation of the simple truths of complex principles.’

The most exciting part from our perspective, though, were the post-show conversations with scientists. This is a really key feature of the show, where we get to unpack some of the ideas from climate and systems science that have informed the making of the work.

We were honoured to be joined by scientists including Will Steffen (Climate Council), Bob Costanza (ANU), Brian Walker (CSIRO), Steve Cork (ANU), Nicky Grigg (CSIRO), Joanne Daly (CSIRO), Eleanor Malbon (RegNet) and John Finnigan (CSIRO).

These discussions allowed us (and the audience) to understand more of how Systems Thinking helps scientists get to grips with the complex challenges facing us today. For us as artists, Best Festival Ever was always intended to provide the platform for these sorts of conversations, and it was an honour to bring on board scientists and thinkers of this calibre.

Myself, Nikki, Nathan, David and Rachel are all really delighted with the experience, and we’re now looking for other opportunities to present the work in Australia.

We’re looking for any groups or organisations who might be interested in hosting a session of the work – festivals, museums, conferences, schools, universities, businesses and workplaces. If you have a room with a table and you think that Best Festival Ever might be a good fit for your event, please drop us a line and say hello.

Peace!

Okay so we are excited to announce that we will be bringing Boho’s Best Festival Ever: How To Manage A Disaster to Canberra this August.

We’ll be at the Street Theatre for two weeks over 12 – 22 August.

This will be the first Boho show in Canberra since Word Play in 2013, and the first presentation of Best Festival Ever in Australia. After premiering the show last year with seasons at the Battersea Arts Centre, the London Science Museum and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, we’re really stoked to be bringing this one home.

Best Festival Ever: How To Manage A Disaster places the audience in charge of programming and managing their very own music festival.

Seated around a table, participants take charge of designing, constructing and managing their festival from beginning to end. From taking care of rowdy campsite parties to assembling the perfect lineup of bands, from dealing with artist tantrums to preventing fights in the moshpit, the audience experience every part of the festival manager’s ride.

Part theatre show, part performance lecture and part boardgame, Best Festival Ever introduces participants to concepts from Systems Science and asks how we can best understand and manage the complex systems we live in.

Each of the Canberra shows will feature a conversation with a guest scientist talking about the ideas in the work, including Dr Will Steffen (Climate Council), Dr Bob Costanza (ANU) and Dr Nicky Grigg (CSIRO).

Following the conclusion of Big Day Out, Harvest, Future Music, Stereosonic, the Great Escape and Parklife Festivals, this might be your last chance to experience a music festival in Australia: jump on board.


David here with a final wrap-up note at the end of the first Best Festival Ever season. After 17 shows in 9 venues in London and Stockholm, we’ve finished the show’s first tour and returned to Australia for a break – as well as to plan and prepare for the project’s next phase.

Over November, we presented the show at venues including the Battersea Arts Centre, the London Science Museum, Central St Martins, Kings College London, Forum for the Future, Zone Creative Agency, Färgfabriken, Miljöverkstan and the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

We shared the work with theatre audiences, scientists, high school students, sustainable development post-grads, researchers, festival-makers, urban planners, museum staff and corporate groups.

Fereday Films produced a great video of the show in action, which you can check out here:

Perhaps the most satisfying part of the work for me was the discussions with the audience we held after the show. For our Science Museum season, scientists Yvonne Rydin, James Millington, Chris Brierley and Emily Lines presented short talks after the shows, discussing their own work in relation to the systems science ideas in Best Festival Ever. The conversations about sustainability, planning, climate change and complex systems were incredibly rewarding to listen to.

That’s it for Best Festival Ever in 2014. In 2015 we’ll be looking at further tours for the show both within Australia and overseas. We’re also seeking to begin partnerships with other organisations to develop new interactive tabletop works looking at specific systems.

If you’re interested in knowing more, or if you’d like to chat about a possible collaboration, please drop us a line. And thanks to everyone who contributed their support to make this project happen – we’re hugely grateful!

Cheers from David, David, Nikki, Nathan and Rachel!

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