Earning our performance concept

Before we broke up for the Easter holidays, we created a detailed script of what would exactly be said on the audio files. This allowed us to understand exactly what the audience would hear and produce trial runs of the performance, allowing us to see any places where improvements would be needed. It also made us go through the performance idea with a fine toothcomb and really understand what each site means and what our intentions were for each site. We really tried to make the text as guiding and encouraging as possible, with specific terminology and phrasing that wasn’t harsh and ordering. We did this because we wanted the piece to feel quite casual yet with clear enough orders so the audience can get as much out of the performance as possible. Therefore certain phrases like ‘please be aware that you will be crossing public roads, so take care’ and by using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ it makes them feel at ease.

We then broke up for the Easter holidays and each had tasks to do ready for when we arrive back. Fleur typed up the script into a really clear format so that it was clear for not only us to read, but also Rachael so she would get a accurate understanding of what would be exactly said and give valuable feedback. (Script attached below)

Audio-Script-First-Draft

I gathered recording of the Cradle Song and the seven ages of man speech from my young family friend who read the Tennyson poem, and my granddad who read the Shakespeare monologue. (Both files attached below)

The Cradle Song

The 7 Ages of Man

However, despite our enthusiasm for using the 7 ages of man speech to finish our performance, Rachael said that the symbolism of the circle of life isn’t clear enough to justify the grand speech. She said that we would have to make the transitions between the ages more fluid and less extreme (e.g, jumping from an infant at site two, to marriage at site 3). This would allow the audience to realise the gradual journey, rather than suddenly skipping a significant chunk of life as it may make it hard for them understand what is being portrayed. We them looked specifically at the seven stages of life that is spoken about in the speech and worked our way through each stage, creating a site for each age.

  1. The infant … (the cradle song poem)
  2. The schoolboy … (commenting on the school that is on the route, the bustling streets at 3:00pm, and also asking them to reflect on their schooling experience)
  3. The lover … (confetti scattered on the floor and wedding bells playing over the audio)
  4. The solider … (walk to Castle Square, look at the people ‘marching’ in the street, very patriotic)
  5. Justice/ peak of life … (walk to the three arches and stand in front of the highest peaked arch, rhetorical questions in present tense reflecting on the journey they have embarked on both during the performance and also before they arrived)
  6. Mature/ elderly man … (walk through the arch and stop outside the west face of the cathedral, the same rhetorical questions are read but in past tense)
  7. Second childishness … (the seven ages on man speech, completing the cycle)

To achieve this level of detail, we needed to change the route of the performance. Instead of turning left into Misters Yard, the audience would carry on straight and head back into town and into Castle Square. This therefore allows the forth age of the solider to be incorporated. This change of route also highlights the fifth and sixth age of reflection and the peak of life through the three archways, which symbolise a change in time when the audience pass through them.

To enhance the different stages of life we decided to incorporate some orchestrated serendipity, chance encounters and coincidences. Several scallop shells would be drawn, hung or placed somewhere in each site (possibly on the Tennyson statue, hung around the head of the gargoyle coming through the wall, on the railings of site one etc). By scattering them around the route it connects everything up and also reassures the audience that they are on the right path. As well as the scallop shells, chance encounters will be places around the route, such as a small knitted Easter chick toy outside the Tennyson statue, a lost child’s glove on the fence outside the school, confetti scattered on the ground outside the church, one of us in a ‘Help the Hero’s’ t-shirt collecting money (which will be donated to the charity by the castle etc). Once again this enhances each of the ages of life. Theatre company Proto-type’s performances of Fortnight (Proto-type, 2014) used chance happenings within their site specific performance. ‘Each location offers a brief encounter that illuminates the everyday’ (Warwick Arts Centre, 2014). This enhancement of each site is what we aspire to achieve.

Additional research

Mark Storer and Anna Ledgard’s Boychild (Storer and Ledgers, 2007), performed on Fathers Day 17th June 2007. This performance is extremely similar to our own. It is a site specific piece where the audience each have a headset and are taken on an audio guide around a building, stopping at curtain areas to consider either an instillation of some kind or listen to voice recordings. This piece is not only similar to ours in regards to the layout, but also their intentions. This piece ‘takes the audience on a journey around the building and a journey through life from fetus through sprouting puberty to old age’ (Gardner, 2007). Both our piece and Storer’s plays with the power performance can have over the perceptions of a site. Many theorists discuss the difference between place and space, how something can be a space (lacking in personal understanding) or a place (a site which holds a personal understanding). In reference to Boychild, Helen Nicholson stated that ‘space is never empty; it always carries social connotations and it is always someone else’s place’ (Nicholson, 2009, 61), thus we have to understand that people will hold different interpretations of the site we are working in.

Gardner, L. (2007) Boychild Explores the Measure of a Man. [blog entry] 11 June. London; The Guardian. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/stage/theatreblog/2007/jun/11/boychildisoneofthesummers [Accessed 14 April 2015].

Nicholson, H. (2009) Theatre & Education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Storer, M. Ledgard, A. (2007) Boychild. [performance] Mark Storer and Anna Ledgard (dir.) Dorset; Southwell Park, 17th June.

Warwick Arts Centre (2014) Fortnight. [online] Coventry; [Accessed 14 April 2015]. 

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