Charlotte Roberts, final blog post.

Framing Statement

Over the course of this module my group and I were challenged to create a site specific performance within an allocated site. Our site was the area uphill in Lincoln, around the castle, the cathedral, and the surrounding areas. My group decided to centre our piece around the cathedral due to it’s rich culture and history.

Our final performance piece was titled ‘All precious things, discovered late’ which was a quote taken from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem The Arrival (1853). We wanted our piece to highlight the importance of appreciating life before it’s too late, and we felt this phrase captured this nicely. We began by researching the cathedral to gain a historical knowledge of the site. We soon discovered that there were several interpretations of the cathedral’s history. From this we established our performance idea of individuality and perceptions. To develop this we looked into the idea of the life cycle. The Shakespearian speech ‘all the worlds a stage’ was highly influential for us, as it helped us form the specific stages of life that would be placed in different areas around the site. The speech begins referring to an infant, and continues through the life cycle until second childishness and then death. This complete circle inspired us to tailor the audio to emphasis the inevitability of death, and also to highlight the importance of treasuring life’s special moments.

The Guardian’s Everyday Podcasts proved to be one of our main inspirations. Listening to how voice alone could create such powerful performances was something that really interested us. The relaxed tone of the piece and the natural honesty within Adrian Howells’ podcast was an aspect that we took on board for our own piece. We wanted to create an audio that felt more like a companion than an instructional voice, and so the tone of voice and choice of words within his piece proved extremely inspirational.

Our final piece consisted of an audio walk around the cathedral grounds. It was performed on Wednesday 6th May 2015 at 11:00am. It began with the audience arriving at the green opposite the judgment doors, where they would be introduced to the performance and given a scallop shell to hang around their neck, before embarking on the walk. The piece lasted approximately 20 minutes per-person, but varied depending on the pace at which each participant walked. The audio files were released on the Facebook event page prior to performance, and the audience were encouraged to download them to their own devices. By listening to the audio on individual devices it separated them, making the experience purely their own and not influenced by other members of the audience.

An Analysis of Process

My initial research

During our first class we conducted a silent mob outside the library, where we all simultaneously followed silent physical instructions. The reactions of passers-by fascinated me, and I thrived off the thought that we had broken the formality of their everyday journeys, potentially opening their eyes to what was around them. It was this sense of purpose behind the performance that I enjoyed, and I liked the idea of using performances for audience enlightenment. We took a walk around the cathedral quarters and the surrounding areas and I discovered a side to Lincoln I never knew. Wandering off the beaten track opened my eyes to Lincoln’s rich history that I knew existed, but had never witnessed. Phil Smith, from site specific performance company Wrights and Sites, stated that drifting through a city can allow you ‘to see for the first time things you already know’ (Smith, 2010, 119), and it was this sense of discovery that really interested me. I really enjoyed the visual impact of Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Trees (Javacheff and Denat, 1998). When the sun shone on the wrapped trees, they took a new form, something mystical that distorted the assumptions of the everyday. These performance art installations unsettle the repetitive journeys of the public, and encouraged them to pause and acknowledge their surroundings.

Performance style

I also looked into performances that involve a structured audience rather than passers-by. Platform Theatre Company created site specific theatre that aimed to educate the public of global concerns. They created performances such as Oil City (Platform, 2013) which took the audience on a journey around the site and ‘deep into the underbelly of London’s oil economy’ (Platform, 2013). During their piece the audience were taken to several influential places, and encouraged to interact with various actors about the controversy of Britain’s economy. The use of promenade theatre worked well as it encouraged the audience to build a personal relationship with the environment around them. I found this very inspiring. I really wanted the audience to gain a connection with whatever site I ultimately used. Although, at this point of the process I wasn’t sure what I wanted the audience to actually gain from this connection. However, I knew that in order for a message to be effectively understood, a good connection with the stimulus (the site) was vital.

Guided walks

During class we were asked to create an unconventional map around our site. Whist wandering around the cathedral, I stumbled across some devilish gargoyles and headless figures. My fascination with these statues took us on a completely different track, and we altered our map to mark where they were on the cathedral.

gargoyle map

The map of interesting statues

Phil Smith states that ‘certain things may begin to connect and once that starts happening, without obsessively pursuing a story, you can begin, collectively, to ‘compose’ your drift, allowing what has happened so far to determine your next choices’ (Smith, 2010, 199). The tangent we allowed ourselves to go on when creating the map meant that we developed something that was inspired purely from the site. I particularly liked the idea of a guide around the cathedral, creating stories about the gargoyles and headless statues, encouraging people to look beyond the typical tourist view. I wasn’t the only person who was interested in working around the cathedral so a group of four of us joined together to create our final performance group.

Ownership of a site

After reading Tim Etchells’ Certain Fragments (Etchells, 1999), the difference between seeing something and acknowledging its existence became apparent. Do we really appreciate what is standing right in front of us? Tim Etchells stated that ‘sight is nine-tenths of ownership’ (Etchells, 1999, 78). This phrase really made me think about what it means to own something. To own something literally is to have a connection with it, physically or emotionally, and from this you can develop appreciation. People see the cathedral in so many different ways; however it is normally from a touristic point of view. Through exposing local myths and stories about the site from the local residents, it encourages the audience to develop a deeper understanding of the cathedral, thus they can form a greater appreciation for it.

Speech and Audio

After discovering the devilish gargoyles, we were interested in recreating myths about the cathedral from the local residents. We wanted to recreate the telling of these stories though verbatim to give the piece a stronger connection to the site and its residents. Look Left Look Right Theatre Company’s performance The Caravan (Look Left Look Right, 2009) was ‘a half-hour verbatim show edited together from hours of transcribed conversations with […] victims of the UK floods in 2007’ (Moran, 2009). Verbatim worked well in this performance. It allowed the audience to experience the site in conjunction with ‘real life’ tales of its residents. The connection the audience gain from site specific verbatim performances was something we really wanted to achieve within our final piece.

I found listening to audio performances very influential for our final concept. Adrian Howells’ everyday moment (Howells, 2011) is an audio piece designed to be listened to in bed through headphones and with a hot drink. At first I felt slightly uneasy because his voice sounded like he was stood behind me, however as the podcast went on his voice became calming, almost reassuring. The honesty in the actor’s voice broke through my initial concerns and I ended up trusting his voice. The way he phrased what he was saying was incredibly cleaver. At the beginning, the words he used were general, however around about half way he began to use words like ‘us’ and ‘we’. By the time I had reached the end of the performance, I felt as if I knew him as a friend. Listening to these podcasts made me think about what can be defined as a performance, and how an audience doesn’t have to be present at a site for the piece to impact them.

I thought about the possibility of making mp3 downloads of the recordings that the audience could download to their own devices prior to the performance, putting the audience in control of their experience. As they are able to download the audio it to their own devices, they are able to keep the files, and if they wish to, redo the performance at their own time, leaving the audience with a token of their experience that they can reflect upon in the future.

Layers of perception

Focusing on speech in performance became something we were interested in so we went back to the site to see if we could overhear conversations about the cathedral. We overheard a father telling his child of the history of the building, although his youngest child lacked interest and continued to run around, shouting to see if his voice could echo. This made us think of the different perceptions that different ages can hold on one thing, such as the cathedral. This abundance of layers from one stimulus is similar to Forced Entertainment’s Night in this City (Etchells, 1995). They explored the ‘different histories written in an urban space – the official history, the personal, the mythical and the imaginary’ and ‘avoided facts in search of a different truth’ (Etchells, 1999, 80). Children have the most elaborate imagination and don’t posses any social filters. This gave us the idea of having an audio walk around the site with children giving their perspectives on objects such as the gargoyles.

Developing a performance

There were several points around the cathedral that we wanted to highlight on our walk. We knew we wanted to start and finish at the green opposite the judgment gates.


Our original map

The statue of Alfred Lord Tennyson was a site that we really wanted to incorporate. His poem The Cradle Song (1809) speaks of birds and babies which linked with our theme of children’s perspectives. Our performance concept was about perception and imagination, and we realised that a poem has just as many layers as physical sites.

We researched into both adult’s and children’s imagination and gathered voice recordings from local shopkeepers and tourists about the cathedral.

We also got in touch with Westgate School, inquiring about recording children’s perceptions as well.

Aware that the audio alone wasn’t enough to create a performance, we developed creative tasks that the audience could do alongside the audio. We intended theses to stimulate a sense of childlike creativity, encouraging them to let their unconscious imagination come through.

From perspectives to a pilgrimage

Due to the lack of response from Westgate School, it forced us to scrap the concept of children’s perceptions, and we then focused on all ages. This linked back to our original idea of the layers of perception that surround the cathedral. The route we had picked out for our tour also influenced our process. It was an almost circular route, with the starting and finishing point at the same place. This made us think of a pilgrimage and the journeys of discovery the participants embark upon. Phil Couineau stated that ‘the object of a pilgrimage is not to rest and recreation […] To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life’ (Smith, 1998). Within Robert MacFarlane’s article he quotes Hillaire Belloc saying ‘the volume and depth and intensity of the world is something that only those on foot will ever experience.’ (MacFarlane, 2012). Hopefully at the end of the performance the audience may feel more aware of the site and themselves.

Structuring the audio

After our piece’s sudden change of direction, we began creating a script.


Whilst trialling the script in the site, a man approached us and asked us why the statues were headless? He mentioned that a lot of the smaller statues were also missing their heads. The man suggested stories of why they were headless, which inspired us to edit our audio to include several more recordings of perceptions as appose to one. To accompany the script we wanted to focus on the underlying message of the journey of life, so researched into poems and speeches that reflected this. We stumbled across the Shakespearian speech ‘all the words a stage’ which highlighted many stages of life and also emphasises the inevitability of a full circle to death. We decided to emphasise the progression of age we had my 86 year old granddad record it. To ensure this theme was evident, we allocated other sites between the Tennyson statue and the green to represent ages in between childhood and retirement. We looked at the stages of life spoken about in the speech and allocated a section of the performance to each stage.

  • Birth (the judgement gates)
  • Infant (the cradle song)
  • Schoolboy (commenting on the school that is on route, and asking them to reflect on their schooling experience)
  • Lover (confetti scattered on floor at Minster yard, and wedding bells in background of audio)
  • Solider (castle square, look at the people marching in the square)
  • Justice (walk through the archways, symbolising a change in time, and reflect upon journey)
  • Elderly (all the words a stage speech)

To achieve this we needed to change the route of the performance, carrying straight on at Minster year and heading through Bailgate to castle square.

Orchestrated serendipity

Although we had certified our audio, we decided that our performance needed more substance. We researched into creating orchestrated serendipities, which are moments of planned coincidence. This led us to look into Proto-Type theatre company’s project Fortnight (Lees and Petralia, 2011). They held two week long pervasive media performances around cities, where they create ‘complex geographies of encounters –some which feel strange, some which feel theatrical, some which feel immensely personal’ (Hui, 2011, 18). Alan Kaprow’s Happenings were also something that influenced our process. He commented on his work stating that ‘the line between the Happening and daily life should be kept as fluid and perhaps instinct as possible’ (Kaprow, 1993, 62). This fluidity is something we wanted to include. We decided to place scallop shells subtly around the route, scatter confetti at minster yard, and hang a child’s rucksack at the Tennyson statue, trying to make them look as coincidental as possible.

Creating the audio

After 4 month of research, it was finally time to condense our ideas and record the audio. We recorded the audio for each track then I took them home and edited them in the audio editing software Audacity.

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 13.37.51

Editing the audio in Audacity

I looked back over the everyday podcasts, specifically Josie Long’s (Long, 2011). It was intended to be listened to whilst shopping in a supermarket. In the background there were sounds of tills bleeping and this was really effective at portraying the atmosphere of the piece. Therefore I tried the audio with subtle sound effects that correlated to the age we were representing.




Trial run

The feedback from our trial run suggested that we had over structured the audio. The way we had phrased the audio and Fleur’s tone of voice came across quite patronising, and suggestions had turned into orders. To gain a more conversation tone we recorded the following meeting on our phones. We then divided the audio into seven sections, and each took one or two home to transcript.

Recording real life conversations and creating a transcript linked with the concepts of verbatim theatre. Verbatim is when ‘the words of real people are recorded or transcribed by a dramatist during an interview or research project’ (Hammond and Steward, 2008). Although we were not transcribing the audio word for word, the creative process is extremely similar. Dramatists use verbatim to portray honesty in dialogue, and it was our intention to create a more casual, truthful audio.

The final audio

Our final collection of audios were exported off Audacity and made into mp3 files.


The audio files in iTunes

These were uploaded to SoudCloud and the link was published on our Facebook event page.


Performance evaluation

On the day of the performance the inevitable happened, it rained. However it didn’t dampen our spirts. We arrived at the site early to lay out scallops and other orchestrated serendipities.


Orchestrated serendipity in Langer 2015

The overall performance went well and we were happy to see the audience understanding the directions given on the audio and following the correct route. Personally, I believe that one of our strengths was the attention to detail of our audio. It took several attempts to get the phrasing of questions and the tone of voice right, as well as the correct local Lincolnshire knowledge. However, we believe that this detail was important in order to create an audio that would have maximum impact on the audience. However, I would prefer to have concentrated on our role in the performance more, possibly allocating more of a purpose to us, rather than simply being guide assistants and onlookers.

Due to the appalling weather, our audience consisted of only our examiners. However, this meant that all of our energy and concentration could be given to them, hopefully making their experience as good and as beneficial possible. They had downloaded the audio files prior to the performance and had brought them along on their own devices. At several moments during the performance they appeared to take time to reflect upon the performance, and hopefully their journey. Allison Hui stated that ‘works of art are meant to provoke affective responses – to move and push people to new understandings and new relations’ (Hui, 2011). This development of understanding from the audience was our overall intention, and I feel that we did all we could to encourage this.

If I could do this performance again I would prefer to have created more movement of orchestrated serendipities. We could have created more moments like the scattering of confetti, which coincidently complimented the audio and highlighted the stages of life more prominently.

Engaging with site specific theory has opened my eyes to the different possibilities of performance. Prior to this module I had only engaged with auditorium-based theatre, but I can now appreciate the large range of performance possibilities. Audio as performance was one particular aspect of theatre I had never heard of, but after engaging with audio podcasts and our own audio performance, I now understand the impact such intimate performances can have on an audience. I also now understand the concept of walking as performance. Walking is not only ‘directed movement from one place to another, but a wandering, an odyssey of sight and sound, a quest for knowledge and stimulation, a grand roaming expedition, and a living breathing work of art in its own right’ (Wrights and sites, 2006).

The cathedral has always been a site I was aware of, but only from a tourist’s perspective, but after engaging with the site throughout this process, I now see it in a completely different way. I understand not only the factual history of the building, but also the local history. The numerous stories and the imaginative interpretations attached to the cathedral allow me to appreciate the individuality that surrounds such a prominent well-known site.


Work Cited

Etchells, T. (1997) Nights in this City. [performance] Tim Etchells (dir.) Forced Entertainment. Sheffield, 8 April.

Etchells, T. (1999) Certain Fragments: Contemporary Performance and Forced Entertainment. London: Routledge.

Hammond, W. Steward, D. (eds.) (2008) Introduction in Verbatim Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre. London: London Oberon Books.

Howells, A. (2011) Everyday Moments 11: Audio drama for private performance. [podcast] 21 November. Available from [Accessed 17 February 2015].

Hui, A. (2011) Art as an everyday intervention: shifting times, places and mobilities in the pervasive media performance project “Fortnight”. The Association of American Geographers’ Conference, New York, 25 February 2012 [unpublished].

Javacheff, C, V. Denat, M, J. (1998) Wrapped Trees. [performance] Riehen, Switzerland: Fondation Beyelerand Bevower Park, 13 November.

Kaprow, A. (1993) Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life. California: University of California Press.

Langer, M. (2015) A Hidden Scallop. [online] Lincoln: Flickr. Available from [Accessed 9 May 2015].

Lees, G. Petralia, P. (2011) Fortnight. [performance] Proto-Type Theatre. Bristol: 2nd – 15th May.

Long, J. (2011) Everyday Moments 8: audio drama for private performance. [podcast] 23 August. Available from [Accessed 20 April 2015].

Look Left Look Right. (2009) The Caravan. [performance] Knightsbridge: Sloane Square, 10 February.

Platform. (2013) Oil City. [performance] London: around London’s business quarters, 10th -21st June.

Platform (2013) Oil City – Site Specific theatre by Platform 10th-21st June 2013. [online advertisement] Available from [Accessed 8th February 2015].

Smith, H. (1998) Forward in The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred. California: Conari Press.

Smith, P. (2010) Mythogrography: A Guide to Walking Sideways. Devon: Axminster Triarchy Press.

MacFarlane, R. (2012) Rites of way: Behind the pilgrimage revival. [online] London: The Guardian. Available from [Accessed 23 March 2014].

Moran, C. (2009) The Royal Court’s Caravan: a flood victim writes. [blog entry] 19 February. The Guardian. Available from [Accessed 15 February 2015].

Watson Bain, A. (1933) A poetry book for boys and girls. Cambridge: University Press.

Wrights and sites, (2006) ‘Dealing with the city’ [in press] A manifesto for a new walking culture. Available from [Accessed on 27th April].

What we did on our Site weekend

Over this weekend we managed to potentially finalise our audio, ready to be sent out on Monday evening. Due to technical issues we had to push back the public release date of the audio from saturday afternoon to monday. We had planned to have a media student record and edit our audio so it sounded professional (and as none of us had ever had any experience with audio editing before), however we were informed that they had exams and were unable to help. This left us in a rather worrying situation as we had four complete audio novices, and two days until the public release. We decided to use the audio editing program Audacity that I had downloaded on my Mac.

Before we could start recording we edited the script with the improvements that we were given during our trial run. We found formulating clear conversational directions particulally challenging (especially around Minster Yard / The White Hart Hotel), and we often fell back into the habit of speaking like a ‘sat-nav’ rather than a companion.

Because I was the only one with Audacity on their computer, editing the recordings and exporting them to Mp3 files was my job. For me this weekend consisted of placing the recordings together, adding sound effects, getting the timings right, editing out background noise etc. It took a long time, was extremely tedious, and often tested my sanity, however it meant that we had a recording that was available for downloading – not necessarily to the quality or standard that we had hoped – but a recording none the less. We then trialled the audio in the site, and the timings were much better.


Making theatre from recorded data

Feedback from our trial run.

The main task for this weeks rehearsals was to edit the phrasing of our audio. During the trial run one of the main comments that were given was that we had over scripted the audio and needed to be more suggestive with instructions rather than formal. The audio also apparently sounded quite patronising, which when listening back I can understand. We understood that we would have to guide the audience around with clear instructions, however I think we underestimated how free thinking they would be. We structured the audio far too much and it therefore the piece lost a lot of its freedom. Our whole concept was for the audience to feel as if they are in control and that whatever they believe it right. However due to the over-structred questions and instructions, it lost the essence of our original intentions.

How we built on the constructive criticism.

That night (after the trial run) we all sat around, deflated and feeling a little lost for ideas. We decided that because we were overthinking the audio, we shouldn’t overthink the rehearsal process either. So we started our evening with a casual chat and a gossip to lighten the mood and subsequently ideas for our audio began to flow. We tried writing down a mini scrip but we quickly found that we fell back into what I call ‘sat-nav mode’, where suggestions turned to instructions and we found ourselves back in the same position. We found that comments that we often said flippently and without much thought, ended up being helpful, yet we could never remember them to put in the audio. I then remembered a moment in a completely unrelated film that I had recently watched, Saving Mr Banks (Hancock, 2013). It tells the story of the making of Mary Poppins and I remembered that during the creation process of the film, all conversations during meetings were recorded so they could refer to them at a later date for inspiration. I then suggested the idea to record all of our meetings on my phone so no comments were lost, and that our thought process wasn’t broken when we stopped to write ideas down. This seemed to work brilliantly and was very beneficial. Below is a short snippet of audio from one of our meeting. You can hear the groups thought processes developing:

We then divided the audio into seven separate audios, and each took one or two home to transcript, and put a new script together. Below is the most recent audio:

After another trial run with the new audio, the comments we received back were much better. We also got a friend (who had nothing to do with our site performance) to trail run it for us as well. We followed a few steps behind him and took note of which directions he looked, where he seemed to get confused, if he went off track (which he didn’t thankfully) etc. This was really helpful as it brought a fresh perspective to the piece and highlighted any issues that an actual audience member would encounter.

Relevant research 

I was reminded of verbatim theatre during our tasks this week. Recording live, ‘real life’ conversations and creating a transcript for a theatre piece linked with the ideas and practices of verbatim theatre. Will Hammond and Dan Steward defined verbatim:

‘The words of real people are recorded or transcribed by a dramatist during an interview or research project’ (Hammond et al, 2008)

Despite the fact that we aren’t transcribing the recordings word for word, the creative process is extremely similar. Dramatists use verbatim because it portrays a sense of honesty and truth in the dialogue. This was also our intention as we found that we spoke in a more casual manner when talking between friends, and this friendship/companionship was something we really wanted to get across.


Hammond, W. Steward, D. (eds.) (2008) Introduction in Verbatim Verbatim: Contemporary Documentary Theatre. London: London Oberon Books.  

Hancock, J.L. (dir.) (2013) Saving Mr Banks. [film] Walt Disney Pictures.

Trial and Error

Theres been many moments over the last couple of days that have ‘thrown a complete spanner in the works’. I knew that the devising process was always going to be hard, but working with audio make that devising process even more complicated. 

Orchestrated serendipity and The Happenings.

As a group we decided that we needed more substance to the performance, not regarding the audio, but external happenings that could influence the audience. We started to research into how to create subtle coincidences around the walk. If an audience member whiteness them it may make them stop and wonder if it was pre planed or just an extreme act of fait. Im personally fascinated by these moments of coincidence that makes you wonder if it was just random, or wether fait has brought you to it for a reason. We wanted to plant these moment within the performance and create moments of ‘orchestrated serendipity’, allowing the spoken meaning within the audio to occasionally reflected the ‘outside world’. Rachel Happe’s definition of the term orchestrated serendipity is clear and helped us considerably to understand what we would do to create such impacting moments. She stated that ‘you or an entire organization can create an environment where serendipity and luck are likely to occur, where you will notice it, and where you can effectively take advantage of it’ (Happe, 2008). This then led us to look into Prototype theatre company’s project Fortnight. They held two week long pervasive media performances in cities such as Nottingham and Lancaster where they would create ‘complex geographies of encounters – some which feel strange, some which feel theatrical, some which feel immensely personal’ (Allison, 2011,18). Allan Kaprow’s Happenings were also something that inlufenced our thought process regarding coincidence. He commented on his work stating that ‘the line between The Happening and daily life should be kept as fluid and perhaps instinct as possible’ (Kaprow, 1993, 62). This fluidity is something we want to include as we don’t want the moments to be too obvious so they are still questionable.  

Creating the audio.

Over the last week we created a trial run of the audio in order to test it out and find any flaws in the timings etc. We recording Fleur’s voice for each audio track and then I took them home and edited them on Audacity. I added some sound, adjusted the timing of the pauses, edited the background noise and added in the external voice recordings. Below is an example of our first trial run at the audio:Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 13.37.51

We decided that rather than it being half an hour or more with just a single voice, sound effects and music would enhance the audio. We added the sound effect of children playing, wedding bells, marching, and musical instrumental to accompany the final speech. We looked into new audio recording performances and back over the Everyday Moments podcasts. Josie Long’s everyday moment podcast (Long, 2011) was to be listened to whist shopping in a supermarket. In the background there were sounds of tills beeping, the hustle and bustle of people shopping. This use of sound effects was really effective at portraying where the listener should be, so we tried out our recordings with subtle sound effects that correlated to the specific age we were representing. Michael Pinchbeck’s project Sit With Me For A While And Remember used slow hypnotic music to enhance the spoken words, and personally it made me engage with the topic of conversation more. I found this really interesting and so inserted a music track under the final speech:

Our intention was to hammer home the idea of inevitability of death (as depressing as that sounds) and we believed the music really enhanced the words of the speech.

Trial run through of performance.

On Tuesday 21st April we invited Rachel to become an audience member and take part in a trial run of our performance. We decided to go an hour prior to Rachel’s visit to trial it out for ourselves. As we arrived the cathedral grounds were packed with priests, solders, and local families for the revealing of the commemorative memorial for the 1945 food drop in Holland. Many of our sites were occupied by the ceremony such as the judgment gates, the pathway to site 2 and to site 3, and the green we start on. This forced us to change the route and meant Rachael couldn’t experience it fully.

food drop

However on our trail run we noticed that most of the timings of the pauses were off (especially audio 2), and it made the whole thing quite overwhelmingly confusing. We decided then that we would need to limit the amount of description we give for instructions as we can’t predict where the audience will be when we say ‘to your left and you’ll see a lamppost’. When I followed the instructions, I hadn’t even made it round the corner and the lamppost wasn’t even in sight.

After Rachel complete the trail run, she gave us feedback on how and what to improve. The overall concept seemed to be solid enough, however the way we had phrased the audio and the tone of voice that was used came across patronising, which was far from our intention! Over the next few days we will re-recording the audio as a companion accompanying them on the journey, changing the tone of voice, and suggesting instructions rather than abruptly telling them what to do.


Happe, R. (2009) 5 Ways to Orchestrate Serendipity. [blog entry] 8 December. Available from [Accessed 20 April 2015].

Hui, Allison. (2011) Art as an everyday intervention: shifting times, places and mobilities in the pervasive media performance project “Fortnight”. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Baptist University.

Kaprow, A. (1993) Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life. California: University of California Press.

Long, J. (2011) Everyday Moments 8: audio drama for private performance. [podcast] 23 August. Available from [Accessed 20 April 2015].

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)


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 [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].