The Lawn – Lincoln Archive – Alex Marshall

Visiting Lincolnshire Archives has really shown a side to the Lawn i wasn’t expecting as since we found out it was once a lunatic asylum it initially created some rather harsh images of what the building use to be like. After going to the archives though and reading through a physicians journal from 1824 it actually paint the Lawn in a much more generous and sympathetic light:

‘Christopher Bonner aged 25 was admitted on 4th (May 1824) He has [suffered] from his childhood, and just showed symptoms of insanity about a year since: this is his second attack. He has also congenital [diseases]. He is occasionally violent…’   (6th May 1824 J.M.)

‘Bonner has had several [attacks] of violence since his admission, he is very noisy today and is confined in a cell in a strait waistcoat.’   (9th May 1824 J.M.)

‘Bonner and Giston are dining in the adjoining room. The latter became violent yesterday and is confined with a chain around his waist and hand cuffs attached to it. Bonner remains convalescent.’   (24th May 1824 J.M.)

Reading further through the journal of this particular physician the worst that ever really came up in terms of a punishment towards patients was just mild restraints. I feel this research really showed a lot of insight into the Lawn to help the group make some good decisions about making our performance as true as possible.

After reading The Place of The Artist chapter I found it particularly interesting, the question posed by Tim Etchells ‘[h]ow long do you have to have lived somewhere until you are allowed to lie about it’ (Etchells, 1996 pg 51) Are we ever allowed to lie about a place when we’ve trusted by an audience to pass on the information? Why wouldn’t we be allowed to lie? and if we did enough research into the Lawn as an institute then how much would we be able to fabricate the script of the performance whilst still keeping it true to the events that happened when it was still running?

2 thoughts on “The Lawn – Lincoln Archive – Alex Marshall

  1. Alex, as Ellie comments, these are good questions to consider for your performance. Truth in performance raises the issue of authenticity, and this is interesting if you think about how performance might be a combination of finding ‘truths’, creating, manipulating and copying. Is it possible to be authentic in your reconstruction of that time? It is good that you have used Etchells’ text, take this further and use other sources from your reading to enhance your discussions. There are a few careless spelling mistakes in this post – be careful to check your work, it might help to write in a word document first and then paste it in to the blog.

  2. These questions will be great to consider Alex. Before finding out valuable information about the Lawn we felt the need to fabricate stories or even make them up in order to excite and frighten the audience. Now however, we have obtained valuable sincere information about The Lawn, and have suggested we will maybe to on a informative approach, and to re-assure the audience that the Lawn in fact was a safe place which provided entertainment and safe living for its guests.

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