Why Are These Games So Bad?

Illustration by Sharon Madanes A'14

Text by Susan Metrican A'14


There are certain events each summer that act as almost a stand-in for the entire experience of the group of 65 distinct individuals who find themselves at Skowhegan. Sometimes these events happen early and set the tone for group interaction—sometimes they happen once the group can no longer imagine anyone else and collective brainstorming takes hold. In 2014, both happened—the nexus of practice and making, collaboration, spontaneity, and joyful celebration manifested itself into a carnival called HappyLand.

HappyLand, Sharon Madanes (A ‘14)

The Stuff they picked up at the dump would be the perfect material for what they had in mind, but The Stuff had another plan. “The dump is actually a really great place to find materials for projects—and it’s a good way to be spontaneous!” – participant
Haunted Pile, Kyle Downs

They had 24 hours, and worked straight through lunch. “I was super hungry, we all were, but we had to keep working. This thing was supposed to pop off in about 8 hours.” – participant

A backwoods bloodbath that will tickle your heart, then rip it out. “We spent countless hours talking in those rocking chairs on the porch. It was good to be able to turn off your cellphone and insta-chat and get to know someone the old fashioned way.” – participant
Knock Out the Teeth of the Redneck Zombie, Willie Stewart

Bla Bla...hihi hi, this Chatterbox has something she wants to tell you. “We came up with the idea of the face-painting booth mainly so we could touch each other’s faces. It was nice to catch up and see how people were coming along with their work and missing home and stuff.” – participant
Bla Bla...hihi hi, Make-Up Salon, Sharon Madanes & Irini Miga

Where the hell is everybody? The Lone Sweeper is the only one left to clean up the mess. “I just found it pretty annoying that everyone was willing to get in there and make a huge mess and enjoy themselves, but when it was time to clean up, they’re all still asleep." – participant

HappyLand, Sharon Madanes (A ‘14)

HappyLand Games:

Heavy Plinko, Andrew Hamill & Magdalen Wong

Ayo’s Massage, Ayo Shih

Billy Putt-Putt, Kyle Downs & Alex Goss

B-Movie Screening, Kyle Downs & Willie Stewart

Greek Vase Head-in-Hole, Susan Metrican

T-shirt Painting, Alex Cohen

Arm Wrestling, Everybody

Prince Albert, Kolbeinn Hugi

Tuzan the Fortune Teller, Kyle Downs, Susan Metrican & Kuldeep Singh

Monster Acne, Nick Doyle, Kyle Downs & Willie Stewart

Katapult Kornhole, Chris Papa  

Basketball, Aaron Fowler

DJ, Austin White

HappyLand is an artist-made traveling circus that contains unusual games, prizes, b-movie screenings, and multiple performances involving the artists as clowns, side-show performers, and HappyLand employees. The environment and props are built by the artists twenty-four hours ahead of the performance from local, discarded materials, and found objects, transforming everyday detritus into a collaborative environment that fosters creative problem solving on a community and personal level.

– Kyle Downs & Willie Stewart