A swingball set plus a city lamp post plus some Shakespeare. These are the makings of Swingball Shakespeare, a community-based game and public art experience created by English artist Anton Hecht. In a recent chat with TKSST, he explained:
“It got started when I realised you could change a lamp post into a public swingball, and then that you could make that into a rhythmic game about iambic pentameter, and we could get people to say the text in public, if they were playing swingball. So then I thought it would be a great excuse to make play in the public happen, and this could be part of it, just making a slight difference for people in their daily lives.”
Swingball Shakespeare, sometimes referred to as IamSwingball and Iambic Pentameter Swingball, was also inspired by these children playing with ropes tied to a Dublin, Ireland lamp post after the Second World War:
Hecht’s work brings playful art-fueled experiences into public spaces. His previous projects include Bus Station Sonata, one of our favorite videos on this site. He now has a series of Swingball Shakespeare videos, played with both friends and strangers in city streets and alleys of Newcastle.
It’s a fun way to interact with William Shakespeare‘s famous works. Want to know how to play? Here are the game rules: Read Shakespeare while hitting the ball on “the weighted bit” of the Iambic Pentameter.
And what’s Iambic Pentameter? Teacher Robert Irwin breaks down the five sets of iambs in this video explainer:If you haven’t seen it, watch Bus Station Sonata. Then watch The Cyclo Knitter, The Chandelier Tree, and What Happens When 350 Musicians Meet For The First Time?
Bonus: Videos about play and community, including What is Public Life?