Whilst developing our performance we researched different practitioners to help inspire us, give us different ideas and help us develop.
We read “Mapping the Terrain: a Survey of Site-Specific Performance in Britain” by Fiona Wilkie. During this reading we discussed what our performance would be classed as because the discussion as to what site-specific work is, is still being debated. Wilkie asks the question “’Does “site-specific” imply “site-exclusive”?’” (Wilkie, 149). This had us discussing this question because if something is specific for a site, in theory it should not be able to tour. However, if the site is a library, for example, then the performance would be able to be performed in any library. This still makes it site-specific as the performance has to be in a library. Therefore we came to the conclusion it would depend on what type of site you would be performing and “[its] relationships to place” (Wilkie, 149). As we are taking our audience on a walk through Lincoln to the destination of The Museum of Lincolnshire Life our performance is site-specific, as we would not be able to perform this anywhere else. Also the context of our performance is about women of Lincoln and therefore the material would not be as powerful if the performance was set somewhere else.
Our performance is going to be an audio piece so we looked into different practitioners that have used audio in their performances. Punchdrunk used audio in their performance of The Borough (2013) which took “audience members on individual theatre journeys” (Punchdrunk, 2013). The performance was through the streets of Aldeburgh, inspired by George Crabbe’s poem. This is similar to our performance as it is going to be through the streets of Lincoln and we want to take our audience on an individual journey listening to a story inspired by the women of Lincoln in 1915. We looked at reviews about the performance to see how audience members felt. The performance included “worlds within worlds and layers within layer” (The Guardian, 2013). Layers is something we have discussed in lesson as there would be many different layered sounds on the audio, so knowing that Punchdrunk have achieved this in their performance gives us hope that we will be able to achieve something similar in our own performance. We want our audio to exist “simultaneously in the mind and out on the streets” (The Guardian, 2013) which is what Punchdrunk’s performance achieved.
Another practitioner that took the audience on a journey was Dreamthinkspeak’s performance of Don’t Look Back (2003-2008). This performance was “recreated for twelve sites” (dreamthinkspeak, 2008) which is opposite to what we are looking to do for our performance. However, we thought the journey the audience go on with Don’t Look Back could inspire our performance. As we do not want our audio to be 100% monologue, we want it to be layered with different sounds and music we looked to dreamthinkspeak as their performance was “told through beautiful scenarios and an equally beautiful soundtrack” (Australian Stage, 2008). This gave us hope that our performance would be able to take the audience on a journey without the whole audio being dialogue.
Blast Theory has a few productions that have inspired and help guide our performance. The first is Fixing Point (2013) which is an audio tour where you “pick up a smartphone, put on your headphones and start to explore” (Blast Theory, 2013). This includes history from the 20th century which is similar to our performance as we are also using history to help create a story. As this performance includes the audience’s phone it made us think about what we are going to do with the audience and their phones, if we need to address it before the performance or allow them to use/check their phone throughout. This is something we still need to discuss as we don’t know if it will ruin our performance or if there is a way we could use it to enhance the piece. Another performance that Blast Theory has created which is relevant to our work and what we have spoken about in lesson is Can You See Me Now? (2001-2010). This is an online game where the audience are playing whilst competing with the actors of Blast Theory whilst they run through the streets. This performance toys with the idea of space and ‘liveness’ as the performers and audience are in separate areas, “issues of presence and absence run through the game” (Blast Theory, 2001). For the player to be out of the game the runner has to take a photo of the empty space where the player is on the game, “each player is forever linked to this anonymous square of the cityscape” (Blast Theory, 2001). This relates to the discussion we had in class about ‘liveness’ because the game is being played live and the runner is there in the moment, however to catch the player the runner has to take a picture of a space, not a person. Therefore the person is not in the same ‘now’ as the runner as they are in different locations. However, you could argue they are in the same ‘now’ because they are both involved in the same game at the same time. With this discussion, we had to consider the idea of ‘now’ in our performance. This is because we want to set it in 1915, but obviously we cannot recreate the 20th century whilst walking through the streets of Lincoln. The idea of using modern technology to connect two ‘now’s’ together is something we could work with.
With these practitioners in mind I think we need to do a bit more research into each of them whilst we continue to develop our audio piece. However I think so far they have helped mould and develop our ideas.
Australian Stage. (2008) Don’t Look Back : dreamthinkspeak. [online] Available from http://www.australianstage.com.au/reviews/piaf/dont-look-back–dreamthinkspeak-1113.html [Accessed 16 March 2015].
Blast Theory. (2010) Can You See Me Now? [online] Brighton: Blast Theory. Available from http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/projects/can-you-see-me-now/ [Accessed 16 March].
Blast Theory. (2011) Fixing Point. [online] Brighton: Blast Theory. Available from http://www.blasttheory.co.uk/projects/fixing-point/ [Accessed 16 March].
Dreamthinkspeak. (2008) Don’t Look Back. [online] Dreamthinkspeak. Available from http://dreamthinkspeak.com/productions [Accessed 16 March 2015].
Punchdrunk. (2013) Past Shows: The Borough. [online] London: Punchdrunk. Available from http://punchdrunk.com/#past-shows/article/the-borough [Accessed 16 March 2015].
The Guardian. (2013) The Borough – Review. [online] The Guardian. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2013/jun/11/borough-review [Accessed 16 March 2015].
Wilkie, F. (2002) Mapping the Terrain: a Survey of Site-Specific Performance in Britain. New Theatre Quarterly, 18 (2) 140-160.