The first day we tried out our audio as a group in the space together didn’t go as planned, quite frankly we couldn’t have picked a worse day. There was a parade of soldiers for the allied food drop at site number 1, the steps were being painted and therefore out of use and there were a team of builders sat on the green, horse and cart rides around the site and unexpected company at site 2! However, this is the beauty of site, it allowed us to plan what would happen if this was our performance and also realise the site obviously isn’t just for our use as the weather gets warmer there is bound to be more people around which we have discussed could be interesting if we were to be approached. We also discovered faults in our audio which we can rectify such as tone of voice and some sound effects which did not work. More recently I have been looking into Fortnight and their understanding of theatre as a “theatrical intervention into … daily lives” (Hui, 2011) which is exactly what we want to achieve and therefore today helped us to see how we could overcome any boundaries that stop us from achieving this. Fortnight understands that “works of art are meant to provoke affective responses – to move and push people to new understandings and new relations” (Hui, 2011) which is exactly what we intend to do with our walk.
After we listened to our audio with Rachel we realised we needed to change our audio slightly. This is so we gauged the correct tone of voice, chatty style of conversation and informality needed to make the audience feel comfortable. Editing this was quite hard so we had the idea to voice record our rehearsal as we felt it was hard to write a conversational script therefore we could talk about the site and write it based on what we said in an informal conversation, almost verbatim like. This friendly, informal tone of our new recording reminded us of our earlier research of audio talks because of the sound effect used in the back ground, we were thinking we should do something similar we felt it adds a sense of intimacy for the audience.
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 The Association of American Geographers’ Conference, New York, 25 February 2012 [unpublished].
“A place owes its character to the experiences it affords to those who spend time there – to the sights, sounds and indeed smells that constitute its specific ambience” (Ingold, 2000,192)
Our original idea for our audio walk involved a lot of quite forced audience participation, however things have worked out differently as our ideas panned out. Instead, we are trying a ‘gifting’ approach with our audience – we want to look after and ‘nurture’ our audience this is so they can have a fruitful experience – we want them to feel comfortable, not forced to do things or out of their comfort zone but allow them to be alone with their thoughts, something a lot of people don’t get to do very often because of the fast paced lifestyle many people lead.
One of the audio’s we intend to use was recorded by one of our groups family members, this was because we wanted a relaxed recording – not recorded by an actor of any kind – just an ordinary person. This resulted in a couple of (barely noticeable) hiccups which we have decided to keep. This is in order to sustain an informal approach and hopefully relax the audience members so they feel comfortable and therefore open to personal reflection.
Referring to the earlier quote from The Perception of the environment we have decided to regard the locals of Lincoln in our piece. In the beginning we unintentionally avoided anything that could be a distraction to our audience instead of realising we could use this to our advantage. The place we have chosen wouldn’t be as it is today without the people making it so and we have decided to pay homage to that and note them in our walk. We will refer to them as soldiers in the square and ask them to take notice of them. This is because of the nature of our performance – it is about a journey – everyones personal journey. At this point in the walk where we refer to the people of Lincoln it is to encourage our audience to think of others journeys as well as their own and what has caused them along their journey to be there at the exact same point in time. In Mike Pearson’s introduction to Site Specific Performance Sue Palmer states “It is not just about a place, but the people who normally inhabit and use that space. For it wouldn’t exist without them” (Wilkie, 2002, 145) therefore we decided to incorporate ‘orchestrated serendipity’ into our piece, a phrase inspired by Fortnight a project which happens in only a handful of cities and allows the participants (who are locals) to see the place with fresh eyes – which is exactly what we intend to do. How we will do this is use subtle symbols around our tour which relate to the audio. For instance we may decide to ask our audience to think about their day – what has happened this morning? What is in the news? and along the walk could be a person reading a newspaper, something so ordinary it is barely noticeable, but, we intend to do a few of these so hopefully the audience will notice and keep their eyes peeled for every subtle ‘coincidence’.
Ingold, T (2000) The Perception of the Environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London: Routledge.
Pearson, M. (2010) Site Specific Performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Simon Reeve’s documentary about Pilgrimage was informative and has cemented the idea that the purpose of our audio walk definitely needs to be with a focus on a ‘journey’. Pilgrimages are plagued with symbolism – which we didn’t even know about. A scallop is a symbol of a pilgrimage allover the world. As part of an initiation process for our walk we wanted people to take something as an acceptance into our journey, the scallop is a good idea both practically and symbolically as certain people will recognise the symbolism and others will learn this at the end of their ‘pilgrimage’. The sense of a journey will hopefully be felt by subtle changes along our tour – such as the shift in age of the voices in the audio and a knowledge about certain spots in the cathedral that they didn’t have before. Through reading an extract from Theatre/Archaeology there is a statement that says “Do not begin with the question ‘what is it?’ instead ask ‘what does it do?'” (Pearson and Shanks 2001, 53). This is the mentality we hope to instil in our Pilgrims throughout their journey. For example when looking at the scallop – what does it do? It is a recognised symbol of pilgrimage and it represents the sacrifice undertaken to travel to a site of religious importance. This is a far better outlook than simply stating what the scallop is.
I also decided to re-listen to some of the Guardian podcasts we listened to earlier in the semester. This has been useful as they have been created for a specific place just like our walk has. This has been useful as it has helped me think critically about background noises in the audio. Some of the background noises can be quite distracting for example the sipping in Adrian Howells and the ‘drip’ and ‘patter’ in Lemn Sissay’s. This has made me think we should have realistic sounds appropriate to the Cathedral grounds.
Pearson, M. and Shanks, M. (2001) Theatre/Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Recently we have been having a bit of trouble developing our idea further, however, yesterday we had a bit of an idea. Since gaining access to Westgate school was becoming less likely, we decided all the viewpoints may not be from children, this then actually inspired us to pursue our idea further and incorporate view points from people of all ages. We could then perhaps subtly incorporate this into our walk in the form of a pilgrimage, viewpoints starting off as more imaginative in the start while becoming more realistic as the journey/pilgrimage goes on. Two years ago I went on a Pilgrimage in Rome and safe to say I felt very differently about the place when I left than when I arrived, although our walk wont be as long as my pilgrimage I want to incorporate this sense of a journey and change into our walk.
Unknowingly to us we had s similar vision to Southbank centre a ‘world famous arts centre’ in London. They have the vision of “Part walking tour, part site-specific performance, this urban pilgrimage combines poetry, soundscapes and storytelling to scrape away at the surface of the city, revealing the hidden histories and geological realities beneath our feet.” (Chivers, 2013) And quite frankly I can’t believe the similarity in our idea to this statement considering we have only just seen this. This inspires me to pursue our idea as we created it organically from walking around Lincoln Cathedral, just as a world famous arts centre have had the same idea from a whole different stimulus.
Tom Chivers (2013) Southbank Centre. [Online] Available from http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/tom-chivers-73727 [Accessed on 17th March 2015]
Throughout research for our piece we have come across poems by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Not only are these appropriate because the statue around the cathedral is one of our stop off points on the map, but the poem we have found also corresponds with our theme of looking at the world through the perspective of a child. Tennyson has written a poem called ‘Cradle Song’:
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 wings are stronger.
So she 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 longer,
Baby too shall fly away.
(Tennyson, 1933, 5)
This has led us to discuss the oppression we are sometimes felt as children. Childhood is supposed to be a time of freedom but often and especially in modern times children don’t have the childhood freedom they perhaps should. The poem talks of a ‘birdie’ who wants to fly away but his mother insists he stays until he is stronger, this has led us to propose a new stance on our walk: we want to instil the freedom on our audience that a child should have, we want them to leave their bags (coats if they wish) and give them ultimate freedom to be alone with their thoughts and explore the grounds like they never have before. The idea that they download the track onto their phone is so maybe in the future they may stumble across it and it should take them back to that freedom felt by them as they participate in our tour.
Watson Bain, A. (1933) A poetry book for boys and girls. Cambridge: University Press.