An interview with Clare Duffy

Clare Duffy. Image by Beth Chalmers

What is your vision for The Big Data Show?

I imagine a large beautiful traditional theatre full of young people all playing games on their mobile phones and engaging with a story about the first prosecuted hack in the UK.

I love the idea of making a show for young people for that kind of traditional and quite weird often intimidating environment. It’s strange: the seats are red velvet, the ceiling elaborate gold-carved. Where else looks like that? A palace? But that space says something about what people 100 or 150 years ago thought about public space and therefore what they thought about private space. I think it’s a really exciting to explore how a story about hacking and privacy can be told through live interactive games in historical environment like this.

What stage is the project at now?

Right now we are in a research and development stage. In 2017 we developed the design and concept of the show with Perth Academy pupils and shared an early version of the play at the Science Festival.

Now we’ve developed the app so that it is available on Google Play and the App Store and we’ve invited schools in Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow to enter into our creative process and give us feedback. We have lots of questions. We want to know what it’s like for pupils and teachers to play together. If that is fun and also a good way to think and learn together. We wanted to create an app that appears to be an addictive game but that has secret levels and digital magic tricks which are revealed as part of a live performance to the audience that test what they know about cyber security. We want to find out what the energy of gaming in large groups is like and how it interacts with telling the story of the first prosecuted hack in the UK. We want to find out what young people know about their data and how it is used, what it is worth and to also see if we can inspire our audience to want to know more about cyber security in all its forms. Also we’re testing the app that we designed last year with Orthrus Studio and pupils at Perth Academy. We need to know that it works technically.

How did you come to the idea of The Big Data Show?

In 2011 I made a show called Money the Game Show, in response the financial crisis and the fact that I understood almost nothing about how or why it had happened. I made this show by putting 10,000 real pound coins on stage, dividing the audience into two teams and demonstrating through a series of very childish and fun games ‘how to be a hedge fund manager’ and ‘how the financial crisis happened’. I became inspired by the power of games to tell stories as part of live performance. I started talking to Rupert Goodwins about his past as a teenage hacker and began to think about how data is a kind of currency and the way it works and moves through the world is potentially even more hidden than how money works. So that was it. Rupert and I decided to write a show that used the audience’s own mobile phones to dramatise what data is and how intimately interwoven it is into our everyday digital on and off-line lives.

Money The Game Show is published by Oberon

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