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.

“Orchestrated Serendipity”

“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

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 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].