In the middle of Lemon Quay, the main shopping area in Truro, Cornwall, you’ll find a multicoloured shipping container. Step inside and you’ll enter The Playing Place.
Rob Self-Pierson explains how it came about…
I can’t say no to an interesting idea.
So when I heard this… “They’re putting together lots of creative exhibitions inside shipping containers for the Cornwall Design Season. Pete Kirby’s creative director”… I knew I had to speak to Pete.
Soon after I moved to Cornwall last autumn for a year of writing by the sea, Pete told me about the shipping containers. ‘We’ve got about 30 themes. Things that Cornwall should be very proud of and wants to shout about. People like Kevin McCloud have nominated them. Themes like the Eden Project, The Minack Theatre, Goonhilly satellite station. We’re now looking for creative teams to bring the containers to life.’
He said he’d send me the brief…
Each shipping container or ‘design box’ is a self-contained gallery. The only rules are don’t be dull and avoid the usual Cornish clichés (yes, we all know them). We want you to be brave and amaze people. This is a contemporary season with its eye on the future. Think lateral, not literal.
What a brilliant brief. It hooked me. I wanted in. And wanted 26 to help. Then I spoke to a man called Sam, a graphic designer and creative director.
Around Christmas, I was given my theme. Amphitheatres – The Minack and Plain-an-Gwarry. And an idea jumped into my head. Magnetic stories – stories that stick. Make full use of the magnetic container and encourage visitors to play with language. I spoke to Sam again.
Sam and I met in the middle of January, in a supermarket café just outside Bodmin. Sam had a sketchpad. I had a notepad. He sketched, I wrote. He wrote, I sketched. We thought up then discarded a million ideas. But this was the start of The Playing Place – a place to play with words.
Step inside on 26 March, and you’ll see ten theatre posters, written by leading writers from around the country, including the poet Maura Dooley and scriptwriter James Henry, and designed by some leading designers, including Domenic Lippa and Gilmar Wendt. On the far wall, you’ll see a theatre set, with stories snaking through waves, clouds and fearsome sea. Grass will soften your steps. Messages will prompt you to tell stories. While online, actors will be waiting to bring words to life.
Please come along. It’s free to get in. Bring your friends, your family, and your smartphone if you’ve got one.