In my day-to-day work in creativity you’ll find me banging on about getting away from your desk, allowing ideas to incubate and trying something new if you want to find new ways to be creative. Steve Jobs talked about creativity in terms of joining dots, and the bigger your frame of reference on the world, the more dots you have.
So today I’m taking a bit of my own medicine and I go to Walking Stories, a one-hour group audio-walk outside. I meet up with 14 of my fellow adventurers on a glorious spring day, unsure quite what to expect from this immersive experience, but intrigued and looking forward to an hour with the phone off.
The idea behind the outdoor walk is that green spaces become part of an exploratory, interactive and fully immersive audio journey. The person behind the walk is choreographer Charlotte Spencer, who told me that she was inspired as a dancer to create an inclusive experience for non-dancers that would enable them to become part of a piece in a natural way.
We were each given an mp3 player and headphones, and told that we were a temporary community, if only for that hour, who were going to have a different, but a shared experience. We were told very little else about what was going to happen, adding to a sense of excitement and curiosity about it. The moment I put the headphones on I felt slightly removed from the general human traffic in the park and somehow less self-conscious about following the instructions we were given.
The Walking Stories team have compiled original music and sounds, transporting you into the world they create. Some of the sounds were disorientating because it was unclear whether they were part of the audio soundscape or the sounds in the park – children laughing, voices, dogs. The narrative spoken was part poem, part philosophy, part meditation with instructions for us along the way.
As we began walking, each of us became a performer in the piece, spontaneously interacting with each other and the space. One of my favourite experiences was standing in two solid lines facing one another about 100m apart whilst the Londoners and tourists went about their business around us. We were solid, powerful, imoveable. Then we ran. It was incredibly liberating to play and to feel so free and uninhibited. It was also a mindful exercise – in the sense that you are responding to instructions and working as a group so you are paying attention minute-by-minute and noticing in acute detail where others are and what they are doing.
We also created something together in terms of a physical structure (I’m being deliberately vague here so not to spoil your experience if you decide to go). It was really interesting to notice what judgements or internal speak was going on in relation to what I added and what others contributed and made me reflect on the creative process in an office setting.
I came to the experience with an open mind and no real expectations of what would happen in the park and I found the experience profoundly uplifiting, inspiring and thought-provoking.
Updated for 2022: we loved the experience so much that we now work with Charlotte to offer Walking Stories to groups as part of our creativity programmes.
Written by Claire Bridges, Founder Now Go Create.