15. The First Practice

After spending the weekend recording all our audio pieces (an example below is of the first audio piece), we decided to test out our working version of the performance within the site.

Although we had planned to walk around the site using the audio tour, we were met with several obstacles that prevented us from doing this fully. The area itself was very busy with a crowd of people outside to see the unveiling of the floral tribute to Operation Manna, which was placed near the beginning of our tour, whilst we were also unable to walk up the steps near the Tennyson statue due to it being repainted. As such, we could not truly listen to the audio, and had to pause it several times to walk around the area. However, this event did allow us to take several photos, as documented here, of moments happening within our site that would not have been there otherwise. Taken inspiration from Fortnight, which said to be “offering the opportunity to fit moments for art into everyday life…creating reasons to question and alter taken-for-granted ways of engaging with the city” (Hui, 2011, 17), we used such obstacles to our advantage to see our site in a new light through different people’s perspectives and uses.

Once Rachel had experienced our tour in its current version, she gave us several comments to use to improve our piece further in these last few weeks. We need to work on the length of pauses and the timings of our site overall, allowing our audience to wait and move around the site at a comfortable pace. We need to make sure our directions are clear to our audience, as at times it can be confusing. We need to work on the tone of the voice we use in the audio, making it seem as if we are a companion to the individual, to help build a relationship between the two. We need to use words like “I” and “we” to reflect our own thoughts and experiences, rather than asking reflective questions, as such a reflection should occur naturally. Overall, we need to make the audio more poetic and suggestive, keeping in mind words like “inviting”, “encouraging” and “generosity” as we move forward, as if there is the feeling, as Rachel put it, “we are holding their hand”.

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.

14. Preparing for the Day

Today we started marketing our performance for our potential audience, creating a Facebook event that we all host. We have titled our peice from the Tennyson poem, The Daydream, “all precious things, discovered here”. We felt the idea of discoverey within the quote really captured the ideas of our piece, of discovering not just more about the site around the Cathedral but also of an inner discovery for the audience member. We have decided to start our performance at 11:00 on the 6th of May, as we felt this enabled our audience and ourselves to arrive and prepare for the performance. We are going to release the audio files on the 2nd of May, allowing for any technical problems to be resolved if need be, and also for the audience to not forget about the preperations they must do.

I also spent time answering some of the questions we were asked by Rachel and Conan to look at, which I feel helps to focus on what we need to work on in these last few meetings.

Where is your site, above and beyond its geographical location?
Our location is a tour around the Cathedral of Lincoln, incorporating the architecture, statues and the Castel Square area.
Why have you chosen to work there?
We feel the back of the Cathedral is relatively unknown to the average tourist, and is an area that deserves more attention.
Which performances and practitioners have influences and inspired you?
Practitioners such as Robert Wilson and Prototype.
What is your idea or framing device?
An audio tour of the outside of the Cathedral which explores the themes of journey and pilgrimage.
How are you documenting your process?
We have all been documenting our process on the blog and in notes of our meetings.
Who are your audience?
Our audience is predominantly fellow drama students, but anyone able to download the audio can perform the piece at any time.
What is your audiences’ role?
Their role is to listen to and experience the audio as they tour, seeing the site from hopefully a new perspective.
What will their experience of your piece be?
Hopefully an enjoyable one in which they are treated generously by us with gifts and thoughts.
What is the relationship between the site, the performance and the audience?
The site and the audience both work together using the audio to create the performance, without the other it would not be.

13. Generosity

Now that our piece is in its final making stages before the performance, we have been working on the final touches to help our audience experience our piece to the fullest. Once again we met with Rachel, who spoke to us about “giving generously” to our audience, a phrase which I feel really summaries what we want to do with our performance. This also contrasts with what we had previously thought we wanted to do, with the small activities in each site, which was a much more forceful treatrment of our audience. Taking the theme of generosity, we want to expand upon our coincediental moments or “orchestrated serendipity” (as Rachel said) throughout the tour, allowing our audience extra symbols and images for them to connect the audio too if they see them. So far our ideas for this have included a lost glove, teas and coffees, a lost book, a newspaper, confetti and a fundraising bucket. Taking inspiration from Fortnight, I also feel our tour is based upon “the ever-mutating process of taking on new perspectives and interacting in the city – any city – that is central to Fortnight’s intervention”. (Hui, 2011, 8) Moreover, we have also spent time on intervening the “All the world’s a stage…” speech into the audio tour, allowing for it to have more gravity within the tour and not feel like an added extra. We have found ways for each “seven age of man” to be represented symbolically and visually in the tour, hoping that our audience will come to a slow realisationthat the journey of the tour does not just mean a physical walk, but also as a metaphor for life.

  • The judgement doors shall represent birth.
  • “At first the infant” – Tennyson’s Cradle Song.
  • “the whining school-boy” – The sound of school bells and relfective questions on childhood.
  • “then the lover” – The sound of wedding bells with confetti scattered on the floor.
  • “a soldier” – Castle Square, with a fundraising bucket for a war charity.
  • “the justice” – Exchquer gate and the library above, Tennyson’s quote of “knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers” along with questions reflecting life up until this point as they pass through the gate.
  • “the lean and slippered pantaloon” – Futher rheotrical questions about life but in the past tense.
  • “second childishness and mere oblivion” – The speech itself read aloud by an elderly gentleman.

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.

12. The Man in the Yellow Coat

Standing in our first site today, a man approached us and asked “Why are they (the headless angels around the archway) headless?” We told what is thought to have happened in the Reformation, which he then used to create a story of a man who during the Reformation secretly cut the heads off but was caught before he could finish. Although we weren’t able to record this great encounter, we plan to use some verbatim from the moment. After speaking with Rachel, we want to add more perspectives to the site, allowing the audience to think more creatively and see differently perspectives to the architecture. Like Fiona Wilkie, we also feel that “it’s not just about a place, but the people who normally inhabit and use that place. For it wouldn’t exist without them” (Wilkie, 2002, 145), and thus we need to keep them prominent into our site-specific tour. Rachel also informed us that the grass area we begin our piece on is in fact a graveyard, which adds a strange layer to the playful picnic we have at the beginning. Using this new information, we plan to change how the audience sees the space by telling them at the end of what they previously stood on, hopefully tieing in to the theme of life and journey. We also discovered that we need to link our tour more to the themes within the speech of “All the worlds a stage…”. We think the first site connects to the idea of creation, the second site to childhood, and the ending graveyard to death. To add more links, we plan to sprinkle some confetti on the corner nearby the front of the Cathedral, subtly showing the idea of adulthood with marriage as prominent moment in an adults life, often with a wedding performed in a religious place. After we found this link, we saw a family walking past dressed in wedding appropriate clothing, a coincidence we were all excited about. Lastly, by having an elderly person read out the speech, and the ending lines read by a younger child, we hope to reflect upon the circular journey of the walk around the Cathedral and life in all, leaving our audience with several ideas and perspectives to think of.

Wilkie, F. (2002) Mapping the Terrain: a Survey or Site-Specific Performance in Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

11. The Audio

All of us knew the gravity and importance of what our audio said, especially now as it is the main focus of our performance. Thus, we spent hours today talking and writing up notes about what Fleur (our designated audio speaker) would say. Conan and Rachel had both stressed to us how descriptive and directional our audio needs to be, whilst also balanced with an informal and conversational tone that we want. We talked over the right way to say what we needed to convey to our audience, sometimes even trying to find a correct single word that we needed. Whilst this was sometimes challenging, I think it was the level of detail and attention that we had to have. We also worked out the kind of coincidences and moments that Conan suggested we had to make our piece playful, which now possibly include Barbie heads, a yellow arrow, cats cradle, bird noses and hot chocolate. Another development in the piece is the walk back to the beginning grass area, which we were concerned would be too long with just silence. We are thinking of using Shakespeare’s “All the worlds a stage…” speech from As You Like It, which we feel subtly represents the themes of journey and life in the rest of our performance. Similarly to Miwon Kwon beliefs, our performance has moved “from a physical location – grounded, fixed, actual – to a discursive vector – ungrounded, fluid, virtual” (Kwon, 2004, 3), hopefully allowing our audience to think more about the journey that have just gone on. We now need to test out this draft version of our audio in our site, hopefully using Rachel as a mock audience member. Once this is done, and we know any changes and alterations we need to make, we can record the audio properly and begin to market the piece to any potential audience members.

Kwon, M. (2004) One Place After Another. Cambridge: MIT Press.