So Monday’s rehearsal & prodution meeting was based around making our clay from salt dough. It was an experience I must say.
It was a first time experience creating salt dough for me. I didn’t think it was going to take nearly 4 hours to create 190 hand size dough balls. That time doesn’t include the 45 minute trip to morrisons to buy more products, by more products it was Salt (12 bags), plain flour (6 bags) and two bottles of vegatable oils as well as three rolls of cling film. All coming to a grand total of £12.
As agreed from the last production meeting we as a group we’d planned on doing a full day dress run on Tuesday 21st to see what works and what needs improving or editing for the actual performance day.
Things didn’t go excatly to plan, we arrived at the garden just after 9am to start the cycle of exchanging clay with a handshake down at the Pottergate to walk a planned route to the garden.
We did 4 hours straight without proper breaks as we had orignally planned in previous meetings that we would take breaks when we were in the garden. Luckily we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather which we thought was perfect however the sun wasn’t really the best thing as we discovered. One of the members within the group started developing the onset of sun stroke from the heat. So we had to call the dress run short.
I felt we did have a positive response and interest by the general public who were using the garden for tea & cake but when I was sat in the Pottergate people walking past or on public transport were giving strange looks as the salt dough wrapped up in cling film looked similar to wrapped up drugs.
As a group we have discussed that we will do another dress run this week coming, change the colour of the dough so it doesn’t look as strange when its wrapped up. Have a one hour break to split up the day. We have taken on board with Rachel’s comment that the model clay figures need to be bigger than a hand full, but by doing this we need to add lolly sticks to the mixture so the figures can stand up and be slightly stronger.
Till the next blog
Week starting 16th March
This week we focused on putting together our presentation/ pitch for Conan, going over feedback questions that Rachel gave us to consider.
We also went back to our previous weeks plans and we have decided to scrap the idea of the live feed to a laptop element of the performance that we would have had situated in the Magna Catra. We want an accidental audience not a forced one, so we thought that the idea of pushing our audience to take part in a viewing would not be appropriate, if we had kept this idea we would also be heavily relying on an audience which we don’t want to do.
Ready for Conan we tried our technology (iPads) in the site as they are a big part of our piece, they were working well until we actually had to show Conan. This has shown us that we cannot rely on technology because they can be very temperamental and unreliable so we would need a backup plan for the real day. Conan seemed to like the ideas that we presented him with, he especially liked the CCTV ideas and the concept of the time lapse videos although he did say that they could easily become tenuis and an audience would be bored if they had to watch it for a long period of time. Although he explained that we were never going to be able to ‘be’ the CCTV cameras but to still use the concept of CCTV and how it constantly watches the square, he also wanted us to take our ideas to the next level.
Ideas/revaluations we have made after our meeting with Conan:
- Look into retrieving the CCTV camera footage of the meeting
- Look into the Freedom of Information Act
- Definitely use Go Pros – incorporate a live feed this way instead
- Think about time lapses – we may just use them as documentation rather than in our performance piece
- Look into the Surveillance Camera Players (SCP) theatre group
We refined our idea of using Pottergate because of its connection as the place where the potters of Lincoln would have plied their trade around the archway set into the city walls. https://flic.kr/p/rxsM4R. Although we decided not to include the ritual of the Queen Anne’s well, we wanted to keep the theme of rituals as the basis for our new journey for our performance. Our permanent sites are now Pottersgate and the cathedral gardens. The gardens are now situated in an area where most of the trading and markets would have been held. Conveniently for our purposes, there is a fire furnace in the garden (https://flic.kr/p/r7Dn9P ) built into the wall and this is where our work will finally take place. We thought about having the audience or participants take the clay from Pottergate to the garden where they will mould it and then place their clay model into the furnace. We discussed our thoughts and ideas with our tutor and explained the route we would be taking for our performance; we also mentioned our idea about letting the people work on their piece of clay in the garden. After some consideration, she suggested some different ways of going about it which would make it flow better. Her main recommendation was that we should use Pottergate more than the garden as our main objective was to highlight the work of the potters of Lincoln. As a result of this discussion, we are now going to base the making of the clay models around Pottergate Arch itself as this will emphasise the feeling of being right in the heart of a historic location. The participants will take on the role of a potter and create a clay figure in exactly the same surroundings as the potters in medieval times; from here they will imagine the market place and then walk to the Cathedral gardens to feign firing their model in the furnace. We are all agreed that after experiencing the actual making of clay figures in a historic location, everyone concerned will have a sense of fulfilment as they take them to the furnace ready to be fired and then sold to the public.
Some artists and ideas that triggered our performance which I will explain further in the other blogs to come:
Do Ho Suh
On Wednesday, 2 of us from our group started to put the basic ideas together for our piece however, we found it difficult to formulate our ideas for our sites especially Pottersgate, even though we were passionate to have it in our piece. I discounted the idea of people marking their names in Pottersgate and came up with the proposal whereby the audience use chalk to mark the pavement with a feeling or a memory and then scrub it away as though wiping it from their memory; that way, they start the walk with a fresh mind and a new beginning. This idea was enhanced by an inspired thought from my lecturer who suggested we do something similar to Sand Mandala sculptures.
My notes on Sand Mandala sculptures:
- Kalachakra Mandala made out of coloured sand
- Created in 3 weeks
- This is a lesson about the impermanence of life
- Practitioners use mandala to visualise in meditation the steps along the path of enlightenment.
- Kalachakra means ‘wheels of time’.
* The key things I picked out are in bold.
We have designed our performance so that we progress around 3 areas in the vicinity of the Cathedral which are Pottersgate, St Anne’s Well and the Cathedral garden. The idea of a pilgrimage came to mind however, we did not want our piece to be regarded as religious although this would be understandable with Lincoln Cathedral looming around us! so, I decided to ascertain the definition of the word ‘pilgrim’.
Oxford Dictionary definitions:
- A person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.
- A person travelling to a place of particular personal interest.
- Chiefly literary a person regarded as journeying through life.
* In bold are the key things I picked out.
Having looked at the definitions of the word pilgrim, I liked the idea of our piece being an adventure of personal interest whereby the performance is unfolding a story and that the meaning of the walk will be told at the end of it; it will be very similar to a learning walk.
After some discussion, my group and I decided to organise a walk from Pottergate to the garden in Lincoln Cathedral which involved completing some tasks on route. One such task would involve a stop at Queen Anne’s Well (https://flic.kr/p/qQ4o7N), to perform the ritual which, according to legend, entails having to walk round it 7 times and then stick a finger in one of 6 holes in the door; a good person will feel the devil’s breath on their finger whereas a bad person will have their finger bitten off. When I tried this out today, I didn’t have a finger bitten off, so I rank myself as a good person. (Paranormal Database, 2014).
We were all of the opinion that it would spice up our walk if we were to pay homage to the numerous legends and folklore associated with the area between Pottergate and the Cathedral garden and that performing this physical ritual would add more interest to it. This was only one of many ideas we had but it led us to look more closely into the history of Pottergate only to find there is very little published about it. I delved into Nickolas Pevsner and John Harris’ book The Buildings of England; Lincolnshire, to discover that Potter’s gate stretched from the south east to the north east corners of uphill Lincoln near the cathedral and that the “stairway in the SW corner, now represented by the polygonal torrent,… allowed communications between the upper chamber and the gate hall” (Nicholas Antram, 1995, 484). This photo (https://flic.kr/p/r9UG9e) shows the tunnel which was used by those inside the city walls to shout down to those waiting at the gate.
Our discussions then led us to the idea that of course it was all about communication as it was one of the entrances into the city and people would have been obliged to state their business before being allowed in. On closer inspection, there has clearly been some vandalism over the years inside the arch of Potter’s gate such as this (https://flic.kr/p/r9LZrL) which was marked 1895. There are markings dating from 1895 to 2010 which just goes to show how our desire to make our ‘mark’ in history continues to fascinate us and that ‘old habits die hard’. Beth and I collected the markings so we can read and show how diverse they are (https://flic.kr/p/rrn5up). Doing this prompted us to come up with the idea of starting our walk at Potters gate and inviting people to add their ‘mark’ to it by sticking a post it onto the archway; we linked this to the manhole covers we saw inscribed with “post office” and “telegraph” which are also another form of communication. Rather than sticking notes on to the arch’s walls, our tutor came up with the idea of having a big piece of wood which people could sign before they started their walk; we decided this was a much preferred idea that allowed people to make their ‘mark’ without causing any damage to the building.
Paranormal Database (2014) Lincoln. [online] UK: Paranormal Database. Available from: http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/hotspots/lincoln.php?pageNum_paradata=0&totalRows_paradata=30 [Accessed 2 March 2015].
Antram, N. (eds) (1995)The Buildings of England. Lincolnshire. London: Penguin.