10. Advice from Conan

Showing Conan the ideas we had for our performance piece was such an influential and important moment for us in our devising process. He was the completely outside eye that we needed, and I feel that we can now really start finalising our tour. Whilst the journey of a pilgrimage is still at the heart of our tour, we now know we need to strip back all the “extras” that we felt we needed to put in, and instead keep it to a simple but detailed audio tour of the Cathedral. As David Wiles infers, “the play-as-event belongs to the spaces, and makes the space perform as much as it makes actors perform” (Wiles, 2003, 1), which I think surmises how we need to treat our tour by letting it “perform” on its own. Knowing that we now have an aim and intention for what we want to our audience to learn and experience, our tour feels more focused. Conan also gave us some great advice on what we as the tour guides can do throughout the performance, such as one of us introducing the “rules” of the tour whilst the others can be scattered across the site to create subtle moments of interaction and coincidences for the audience as they listen. I think these moments will give our piece the playfulness that we are all keen for it, whilst letting the audio take centre stage. We can now produce and perfect our script for the audio, practice with it in the site, and decide upon those audience moments.

Wiles, D. (2003) A Short History of Western Performance Space. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

9. A Pilgrimage

Yet again, our performance has evolved. After discussing our ideas with Rachel, we have all become interested in the idea of a pilgrimage (a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion), and using this journey as a basis for our tour. Not only does this fit perfectly with the Cathedral as our site, but it also works for the theme of a “life cycle”, an idea we have also been moving towards. Moreover, unknown to us before, there is an image of a pilgrim on the Cathedral, which we think is placed quite close to the beginning place of our tour.


(Hannah-Briggs, 2013, citied in geograph.org.uk)

Whilst we do not want our tour to be overtly about or based upon any religious or historical material, as it is still primarily about the perspectives and the outside of the Cathedral itself, we want to subtly hint at such things. For example, for the beginning introduction of our tour, we are thinking of asking our audience to take a scallop as a physical representation of their acceptance to be a part of our tour. A scallop is an associated symbol to a pilgrimage, with the shape of its lines meaning to represent the joining of routes towards a religious place. There is an obvious connection between our site and the journey of a pilgrim, and as Jen Harvie believes, site-specific performance should be used “to explore spatial and material histories and to mediate the complex identities these histories remember and produce” (Harvie, 2005, 44). Additionally, “…location can work as a potent mnemonic trigger, helping to evoke specific past times related to the place and time of performance and facilitating a negotiation between the meanings of those times” (Harvie, 2005, 42). By referencing the past life of the Cathedral and using the voices of the present community, we hope to explore the different personal uses for such a site. We shall be testing out some of our ideas at our site this week, and continuing to develop these ideas into our final performance.

Harvie, J. (2005) Staging the UK. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Hannah-Briggs, J. (2013) The Lincoln Pilgrim, Lincoln Cathedral. [online] Available from http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3409318 [Accessed 18 April 2015].

8. Being Creative

This week our performance idea has gone through several changes. After showing Rachel a small piece of what our performance might be, we have realised we need to make some adjustments and changes. We now want to be creative with our site, such as using bunting, chalk drawings and messages to have our audience interact with the Cathedral and show their perceptions in a more literal sense. We want our performance to have a very freeing and playful sense to it, showing a comparison of adult and child through audio interviews. Rachel suggested having our performance come full circle, with the beginning meeting and introduction in the grass area being slightly altered at the end. She also informed us of having our audio instructions much more detailed than we originally thought. We have looked at other audio based site specific performanes, such as Robert Wilson’s Walking, which captures the immersive audience experience that we want to incorporate in our piece.

(Dewachi, 2012)

Mike Pearson says “there is no privilege of origin: a place owes its character not only to the experiences it affords as sights, sounds, etc. but also to what is done there as looking, listening, moving. Both “being” and environment are mutually emergent, continuously brought into existence together. And here performance might represent a place of work or special moment within landscape…” (Pearson, 2010, 16). I feel this is an important quote for us to have in the back of our minds as we continue on, and though we still have a long way to go in putting our piece together, our initial stages so far have been very productful and informative.
Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hydar Dewachi. (2012) Robert Wilson “Walking”. [Online Video]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8ih4GddMc4. [Accessed: 18 April 2015].

7. Interviewing the Locals

Our meeting with Rachel went very well, and I feel we are now ready to being testing out our performance idea. She gave us a deadline of Monday to create a draft version of our performance, using the local shopkeepers of the area to answer our questions about the site on an audio recording. The questions we asked were:

– What do you automatically think of when you see this picture? (for example, the headless statues)
– What do you know, if anything, about this picture?
– If nothing, how would you describe this to a tourist if you were conducting a tour?
– Do you know about any myths concerning the Cathedral?
– What do you know about Tennyson?

By conducting these “interviews”, we were able to gain the material that we needed, whilst also learning of the local perspective and ideas of our site. Mike Pearson experienced a similar understanding, stating “these differentiated places act as “containers” (of memories, stories and legends)” (Pearson, 2010, 55).

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-Specific Performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmilan.

6. Idea Making

Today we spent the time creating the idea for our performance, which we hope will become an audio tour of children telling stories about the Cathedral. We want this to be a playful, freeing experience, putting our audience into the minds of a child. Some of our ideas for this include having the audience leave their bags with us at the beginning of the tour, and handing them a map of footprints to lead them around the Cathedral. We plan to include the poetry of Tennyson, such as Cradle Song, in-between the children’s stories, what with his status being a prominent part of our site.

“What does little birdie say
In her nest at peep of day?
Let me fly, says little birdie,
Mother, let me fly away.
Birdie, rest a little longer,
Till thy little wingers are stronger.
Soshe rests a little longer,
Then she flies away.

What does little baby say,
In her bed at peep of day?
Baby says, like little birdie,
Let me rise and fly away.
Baby, sleep a little longer,
Till thy little limbs are stronger.
If she sleeps a little loger,
Baby too shall fly away.”

We all feel that this idea encompasses many of the elements of the site that we have been taking in over the past few weeks: the mixture of old and new, the different perceptions one could have, the “darker” architecture etc. As Fiona Wilkie says, “site-specific performance engages with site as symbol, site as story-teller, site as structure”. (Wilkie, 2002, 150) I think this quote really encompasses a lot of the ideas we have about out site, and what we hope to achieve.

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