PLAY Bedford is a new initiative to develop fun, playful experiences for shoppers, residents & visitors to explore public spaces across the town centre. By bringing surprising, entertaining experiences to the public realm, we encourage people to reconsider their expectations of what happens in public space, and raise the ambition for future public realm creativity.

Bedford Players Trust have commissioned a period of Research & Development into a new playable experience to embed within Bedford’s Historic market spaces. During Summer 2023, WordSetFree will test a number of new ideas, short games & creative responses to the market – thinking about the role the market has historically played, considering how marketplaces interact with the financial world, and exploring the ways markets & games intersect in playable media.

Further details on these interventions will be announced nearer the time, and we look forward to announcing the details of the project over the next 2 months.

PLAY Bedford is intended to be a long-term project to help inject these playful moments into spaces across Bedford, as well as producing creative interventions that can be prototyped with Bedford audiences, communities & partners, before being taken to other market towns & cities across the UK (and beyond)

Finding playful ways to explore public space is a continually growing area of creative design, and is often used by civic planners, architects and economic development teams to reframe public relationships with the world around them. We’re very excited to be continuing to produce this type of highly visible, participatory public activity, following on from our successful partnership with Third Angel on The Desire Paths in 2021.

Alex Kelly will be supporting the PLAY Bedford initiative with dramaturgical & playtesting support throughout the summer, bringing his experience of making documentary theatre and one-to-one performances, as well as the experience of running The Desire Paths in locations across the UK.

PLAY Bedford runs in conjunction with Bedford Players Trust’s Game Play project and is funded by Farnham Malting’s New Popular fund. New Popular brings theatre-makers and communities together, to test and develop new work for unconventional spaces.