Monday, 17 January 2011

Inspiration For Performance: The New Guide for Theme Hospital

I've decided my creative focus outside of my career this year is going to be on performance writing. That could mean almost anything, but I'm talking specifically about producing spoken word stuff that I can take to the myriad little literary events that happen in various basement bars, lofts and art spaces across London. I'll be checking out some open mics to get a sense of the competition over the next few weeks, kicking off with Catweazle @ The North London Tavern and Kid, I Wrote Back at Shoreditch's Bar Kick.

I always think it's a great shame that in writing - particularly writing outside of film and drama - you don't get the same level of audience feedback; you can't see people dancing to the music or even nodding their heads in appreciation. While performance prose is far harder to find an audience for than poetry, that audience is out there, and successful projects like Literary Death Match (co-run by my mate Nicki Le Masurier) remind me why even though I work from home in my pants I choose to live in one of the most expensive cities on the planet.

So, I'm thinking monologues. Adopt a character, memorise a 1,000 word script, and put all my misplaced confidence to good use - kind of a cross between stand-up and short stories. I'm brain storming at the moment (+1 Unnecessary Marketing Terminology), but post fail state theory blog I did play a spot of Theme Hospital and come across this.

This is 'The New Guide For Theme Hospital', a set of pointers for how to do a speed run of the entire game in one go because you haven't worked out that you need to edit the config file to get the save/load system working. It's fantastic. It starts off traditionally enough...
1. Always build the number of GP office proportional to the other rooms you have.
...but then bangs in a complete curve ball:
2. Never build Toilets, benches or plants or fire extinguishers. They do not help you in anything.
That made me giggle. After that the advice becomes gradually less practical and more philosophical:
8. Once you beat one level just forget about it and focus on the next one and make sure you forget the old completely the new one is much more important now.
9. When all things seem to be against you and it’s in this time that you need to show the world (in this case the Theme Hospital) what you got.

I didn't plan on tying any monologues I produce into games, but I do think the medium's pervasive enough now that I could get on a stage with this concept without switching everyone off. I don't know exactly what (if anything) I'll do with the idea, but I just love this image of the philosopher without a channel funnelling all his worldly wisdom into writing walkthroughs - you could do some really subversive stuff.


  1. If and when I develop this idea I'll be sure to post the updates. Any thoughts or event tip offs more than welcome :-)

  2. I don't know why but this made me think of The Rules of Bedroom Golf.