Invention :
Yellow and Purple Prose/Dr. Squint's Colour Co-ordinator

A simple game of linkage lies behind the pervasive colours in Yellow and Purple Prose. It could be played by writing a list of any objects, or any objects associated with one colour, as in Dr. Squint (below) or indeed of anything at all.

The games are played by rolling (e.g. a yellow penny down a yellow chute) into a tray or box in which there is a collage of pictures of objects of the same colour. When a picture is landed upon, the player has to incorporate that object into a sentence or clause that will carry the story forward. The sentence is then written with coloured markers onto a roll of card, which is moved on and up so that everyone can read the story so far. The longest yellow story was over nine feet long.

The list could be on cards, shuffled and dealt, or numbered and revealed in a sort of bingo. In any case, players are building a poem or story sentence by sentence or line by line, and as with the PushPoem Machine it helps if some players can be persuaded to use their turn to firm up the idea or plot, add to the description or otherwise slow down the relentless action. It's important to keep players in touch with the whole work so far, reading it out regularly, so that motifs, reappearances, even mere coherence, are encouraged.

Dr. Squint's Colour Co-ordinator was specially built to help create a mural at Tower Hill Community Centre. The room was prepared by painting everything white, except the window frames and lines on one end wall, marked in imitation of the windows, which were painted aluminium. This defined six large panels sub-divided into four sections. Four perspective lines were drawn which passed through each of the `windows' on the wall and linked the sections together. Dr. Squint's Colour Co-ordinator consisted of a box containing two large discs each carrying six different coloured lighting gels. The discs were spun in opposite directions and players, viewing down a tube, tried to stop their motion when two matching colours were lined up between them and the light. The colour they matched correctly became the one they concentrated on, firstly by making a list of things that would normally be that colour.

One basic problem emerged - that there are a limited number of things that are always the same colour, that imply the adjective. Of course there are ways round the difficulty; the use of other adjectives especially. Sky, for instance, could be many colours, but clear sky implies blue; cloudy sky white or grey; thundery sky, black. Players should be encouraged to make long lists of useful words and word combinations (ie blazing sunlight for yellow, burning sunset for red). The colour can be chosen through a spinner with coloured sectors, or as an exercise for a group where the words for the colours are discussed and written up for all to use in their own writing.

The players went on to write a poem by looking at their word list and playing with the possibilities it suggested until a scene or event came to mind. The poem would be full of things of the same colour but the actual word of the colour (red, green, blue, yellow, purple or orange) was never mentioned in the poem, only alluded to by object or simile.

The subject matter of each poem formed the basis for part of the mural. A `window' on the wall was selected and a draft picure laid up on card, making use of the perspective line. Then the draft was copied to the wall, painted entirely in shades of the one colour. When complete, the poem was painted into the picture using a very fine brush.

For further information on this sort of game click on games listed under
INVENTION in the INDEX side bar.

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Windows Workshops Dave Calder, The Windows Project ,1997,1998,1999,2009