Week 1: Opening our eyes to the idea of ‘space’

Site-Specific Performance takes us from the comforting conventionalities of the theatrical world and encouragingly opens our eyes to all the spaces that we often seem to take for granted. Whilst conventional theatre takes a play and refines its meaning into the given space, Site Specific involves making a performance that ‘responds to a place from the perspective of an outsider’ (Govan, 2007, 121). Performance artists look at a space and draw meaning from it – whether it be cultural, historical, philosophical or more, it generates a narrative for new perspectives to arise. It can happen any where at any time and for any length. What I find most intriguing about site-specific performance, is the term of ‘space’. Before taking this module, if I were to think of the word ‘space’ I would immediately associate this as something blank and isolated; somewhere that has to be busy to have meaning. Henceforth when reading Mike Pearson’s Site-Specific Performance, I realised that spaces around us whether neglected or bustling, withhold meaning on their own. It does this by engaging with ‘site as a symbol, site as storyteller [and] site as structure’ (Wilkie, 2002, 158). Simple moments of a loud conversation, a torn up piece of paper on the floor or an interesting architectural design all have a story to tell. Site-specific performers can then take these as documentation and reinvent a new or reflective meaning for those who are visiting or those whom know it extremely well.

Linking this into our first week of workshops and seminars, it made me think back to our first year module of Reading Performance and how we actually define ‘performance’. Richard Schechner’s book Performance Studies: An Introduction suggests that performance ‘examines texts, architecture, visual arts … not in themselves, but as players in ongoing relationships.’ (Schechner, 2013, 2). Everything in our day to day life could be seen as performance: the way we act in front of friends and family, pausing at traffic lights, entering though a door way and so forth. Taking part in a subtle mob to create a new experience for not only ourselves to take in, but to affect the experience of others. Although it seemed a very bizarre idea at the time, it really made us observe all the little movements and gestures of people in the area and the purpose of the site. In some ways the site outside the library/LPAC is used as a liminal space (neither here nor there, a travelling space), whilst it could also be a meeting place for new students. Reflecting on this, it allowed me to realise that site’s may have more than one meaning and that is what can be incredibly special about a performance taking place in them. Whatever meaning we may find can be extracted from the space and applied specifically to the site, through the medium of performance. Having the opportunity to work uphill in Lincoln is incredible and I look forward to the journey we will experience!

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schechner, R. (3rd ed) (2010) Performance Studies: An Introduction. London: Routledge.

Govan, E., Nicholson, H. and Normington, K. (2007) Making a Performance. New York: Routledge.


Now you see me, now you don’t!

The first lesson of Site Specific Performance was pretty daunting to me, especially with the given tasks of understanding such a broad subject. A subtle flash mob was first on the agenda, and the last thing I expected, during which I became less conscious of myself and more aware of what, where, how and who was in my surroundings.

A particular quest took my attention during my time, in what I thought was a familiar space. ‘An escape to the roof’. I began looking for ways in which I thought my small body could clamber up to what I first envisaged as safety. I looked for a stepping stone pattern, a secret stair case (in case I hadn’t noticed one before!) and objects that I could move towards the walls to make me tall enough. I drew a blank. I gave up and went on to take a picture of ‘an endless horizon’ which made me look at edges and lines of buildings where the sky met them. Suddenly through the camera lens everything changed, the Library that seemed so tall and void to my project became a miniature playground for my NEW legs… my fingers! The escape to the roof was no longer about being safe, it was about having fun. Without my camera perspective, who would have known?

escape to the roof

The outcome I was so busy looking for was right under my nose, and arrived through divine intervention. In The Place of the Artist Govan explains that ‘Within contemporary performance, site-related work has become an established practice where an artist’s intervention offers spectators new perspectives upon a particular site or set of sites.’ (Govan, 2007, p.121) which was thought provoking; an artist’s intervention doesn’t simply have to be showing someone a new way of looking at something, it can be made through suggestion, timing and a sort of planned, hopeful coincidence of recognition.

A new found perspective can be continued through art. A new found favourite, and relevant, artist in mind is Slinkachu. Slinkachu is an artist that creates everyday tableaus of life size backgrounds with miniature people, here’s a few examples to enjoy!




Govan, E. Et al (2007) Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices London and New York: Routledge





Perspectives, The Abyss and Uncertainty

Perspectives change the way people view things. Each person has their own perspective which can be moulded by nature, nurture, situation and maybe just how they were feeling in that moment. A perspective could differ from one person to the other, but on the other hand they could overlap and have interlocking themes but without being the same. For example, someone could look at a tree and see a home for birds and another person could see a place to shade themselves from the sun. Two opposite perspectives are linked through the tree being used as protection.


Using this thought and the instructions I was given, ‘A place where you can stare at an endless horizon’ and ‘An abyss to fall in’, I took this picture. The picture shows a seemingly endless overcast sky. The horizon stretches across buildings and beyond, and once I took this picture I could see an abyss, a vast open space where anyone could easily fall into. I tied in perspectives by taking the photo at an angle, this makes it seem like the buildings were further away than they actually were. By flipping the image,


the idea of an abyss is more prominent than in the original. The black ledge, now at the bottom of the photo, could be viewed as a platform to jump from into the unknown mass of cloud; again it is down to how a person chooses to view the image.

Coming from a ‘straight acting’ background, the idea of site specific performance is daunting and challenging. Overcoming the fear and unease of the unfamiliar will be the major obstacle for myself over the coming months, but by opening my mind to view my surroundings and course with different perspectives will allow me to become more open minded as an actress.