Final Blog Submission – Amy Clarke

Framing Statement

Site specific performance “refers to an artist’s intervention in a specific locale, creating a work that is integrated with its surroundings” and requires a relationship to the location (Guggenheim, 2015). In this case, our performance was an audio tour which is usually a “self-guided walk made of a sound composition you listen to while it takes you through places” (Bieri, 2012). However our performance required a tour guide to lead the audience and acquire their attention when an activity involving audience interactions was to take place. Our site location was the whole of the City of Lincoln and the tour started at the bottom of Steep Hill and finished at the Museum of Lincolnshire life on Burton road. The audio track consisted of stories, monologues and information about women in Lincolnshire in 1915, focussing primarily on Amy Beechey, Florence Bonnett and a fictional woman teacher. Because our performance was a tour through the city, we were concerned about the relation between the audio and the site and so we had to think carefully about how we could order the contents of the track.

The assessment started at quarter to four in the afternoon on Thursday 7th May but we had previously opened the audio tour to the public at half past two. However before the assessment, only three people had come to our performance. We limited the audience numbers for the tour to two-three people as the tour involves audience involvement and having a larger number of people would affect the performance process regarding time and space and as we limited our performance to around twenty five minutes, timing was crucial. Our main concern was the sweet shop interaction in which we gave the audience money to buy some liquorice but because the shop was small, a bigger audience would have taken too long to individually buy the sweets. It would have also affected the shop owner and his other customers as there would be too many people forming a queue in a small space.

In the devising process, we looked at theatre companies, performances, practitioners, and readings that inspired us and initiated ideas for our performance. Although we didn’t use all of the ideas, these influences gave us a starting point which we then expanded from. We mainly focussed on companies that used audio for their performances such as Punchdrunk and Dreamthinkspeak; however we did use other influences such as Blast Theory, poems by Alice Corbin and Jessie Pope, and readings that were essential on the module. The creative process in producing an audio tour track was hard work as it required a lot of walking, exploring and researching, however the devising process needed to be well thought out in order to give the audience an “intellectual experience” (Bieri, 2012, p.5).

Analysis of Process

In his book The Art of Wandering, Merlin Coverly talks about a man who imagines that he is going on a journey in his mind. Coverly quotes Alain De Botton who states that “the pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to” (De Botton, 2003, p.246). To begin the devising process of our site specific performance, we were asked to go on a “drift” with our group and see where it takes us. Starting at the University of Lincoln, we began walking up hill until we arrived at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life. Not knowing about the museum beforehand, we decided it could be beneficial to see what was inside. Our drift was successful as the museum contained the history of the First World War and the Second World War which inspired us to create a performance about the history of Lincoln during the war. Additionally, as an all-female group we agreed that focusing on women during the war would be an interesting topic. The history that captivated us the most was the heart breaking story of Amy Beechey and the loss of her sons, the William Foster munitionettes and the restricting rules for women teachers.  Overall, aimlessly wandering through the city resulted in finding a strong starting point for our performance.

Two productions that are influenced by historical events are One Day, Maybe (2013) by Dreamthinkspeak and Fixing Point (2013) by Blast Theory. One Day, Maybe is a “site-responsive performance […] inspired by the Gwangju Uprising in South Korea” and Dreamthinkspeak believe that “these past events are still a key part of our present” (Dreamthinkspeak, 2015). Fixing Point “focuses on a programme of classical music in an idyllic rural setting” and is about a man named Seamus Ruddy who was killed in 1985 (Blast Theory, 2011). Both of these productions were influential because they take the audience on an audio journey focusing their performance on topics that relate to certain events in history just like we planned to do using the history we had learnt about Amy Beechey, Florence Bonnett and the rules for women teachers. However the difference between our performance and theirs is that they just focus on one story where as we focused on three. Also, Fixing Point involves connecting the headphones to a smartphone and we couldn’t do that as we wanted our performance to be available to everyone not just smartphone users. My group and I found these women inspiring and agreed that a war related performance would be a creative and excellent idea, especially if some audience members aren’t exactly interested in theatre but are interested in historical events. The story of Amy Beechey is well-known within the history of Lincoln as she was the mother who lost five sons during the First World War. Furthermore, Florence Bonnett helped build the tracks for the first tanks and this year “the Lincoln Tank Memorial has been unveiled to commemorate the city’s vital role in the production of the first tank” (Lincolnshire Echo, 2015).

After individually researching the history of the women, we started to consider the organisation and structure of our performance and decided on creating a linear performance, given that our performance will include moving from place to place within a set time limit. In order for the audience to stay interested in our performance, we needed to make sure that the information we provided was captivating by using detailed monologues in our track that talk about the life of the three women we have chosen. Although the monologues were fictional, they were based on real historical events and by doing this, it’s as though we were telling a story. Additionally, after undertaking further research into the William Foster factory workers, I came across Florence Bonnett, a woman who left school at the age of thirteen and signed up for war work at William Fosters. Originally, Florence left school and joined the family business that her mother and father owned, trading as fishmongers. However, she soon started working in heavy engineering which included making tracks for the first tanks. During her time at William Fosters, Florence had a lover in the Lincolnshire Regiment called Dick but unfortunately he was killed in action. This information was beneficial in a section of our performance, more importantly because Florence lived and worked in Lincoln. I think the audience would have found the history of her life and work very interesting.

Given that our piece was an audio tour, I decided to search for companies that produce this style of art and I came across Punchdrunk’s audio performance, The Borough (2013) which was inspired by George Crabbe’s poem. Walking through the streets of Aldeburgh, The Borough consists of an audio track where “past and present, fact and fiction collide” (The Guardian, 2013). We wanted most of our track to be factual given that the women in our piece were real people from Lincolnshire; however we wanted to tell the audience a story during the tour about these women of 1915 and therefore created fictional monologues based on facts. Additionally, to prevent silence between the monologues, we looked at sound effects and recorded other sounds (i.e. wild noises) as well as recording our own voices and blended them all into one track.  With this intention, The Borough track contains “layers within layers” (The Guardian, 2013) of sound and therefore we wanted the sound in our track to also be layered so that we don’t lose the interest of the audience by producing a simple audio track. Our audio tour was similar to The Borough as they began with an inspirational poem just like we began with factual stories about inspirational women.

A company that I found inspiring for their art work are Lone Twin who “[turned] wooden objects donated by people from across the south east into a seaworthy archive of stories and memories” (Lone Twin, 2011) and called it The Boat Project (2011). With this intention, during the First World War, Florence Bonnett built the tracks for the first tanks and therefore we thought about building something with the audience in our performance. With this idea, we came up with building foam aeroplanes as we also mention the Ruston Proctor company who built aeroplanes during the war. Lone Twin “desire to connect with, and celebrate the individual lives, events and stories that define, a community” (British Council, 2015).  However, our performance wasn’t dedicated to the building of the aeroplanes but it was interesting to include the interaction in our tour as it symbolises that we too can help build necessities for the war. More importantly, the first tanks were built in Lincoln and the Ruston Proctor company was based in Lincoln and so using this symbolism celebrates the history of Lincoln during the war and connects our performance to the site.

After a meeting with Conan Laurence about our performance, he advised us to think carefully about how audio and performance integrate.  He suggested that we should focus on symbolic small moments that involve audience participation rather than just creating a grand performance alongside the audio track. Symbolic actions or words in a performance can be powerful as “symbolism implies a greater meaning” (Cash, 2006). With that in mind, we wanted to use a movement to symbolise something important in the performance and our form of symbolism was the aeroplanes. Before the interaction with the paper aeroplanes, I moved my arm in a circular motion to symbolise aeroplane wings as we were about to mention the Ruston Proctor aeroplanes after the paper aeroplanes scene. However, originally we were going to use both hands to represent the aeroplane wings but it looked like we weren’t taking it seriously and therefore we changed the movement by slowly moving one arm around and twisting it in a more stylised fashion much like physical theatre. This occurred three times before the paper aeroplane scene and four times after the scene, in sync with the jet sound. We chose the aeroplane movement because we dedicated an activity in the performance to war aeroplanes, more specifically, the Ruston Proctor aeroplanes. We agreed that this was a task for the tour guide, which was me, as I was the one that was constantly with the audience and so the audience would be able to witness the symbolic movement every time.

My group and I came up with an idea to use poems that have powerful meanings and connected them to the Amy Beechey and Florence Bonnett sections of the performance. The first poem called War Girls (1916) was written by Jessie Pope and is about the job roles that women in the First World War had to undertake when the men left for war. We were inspired by this poem because it expresses the importance of women and their efforts for the war and as we focus on Florence Bonnett and her job as a munitionette, we agreed that the poem was relevant. Furthermore, we used a poem called Fallen (1916) by Alice Corbin which is about a soldier dying at war. We introduced this poem to the audio track just after Amy Beechey’s monologue where she speaks about the loss of her son, Barnard. We found this poem inspiring because although it is about the death of a soldier, it is beautifully written and the description is powerful and because the story of the Beechey family is devastating, we thought the poem provided a powerful end to the performance.

One of our main difficulties and concerns was that our site didn’t relate to our piece given that our performance was an audio tour. However, Mike Pearson states that you can “[imagine] the land not as a physical matter but as a metaphor or signifier, as concept or historical narrative” (Pearson, 2010, p.33). With this intention, we wanted to choose our route carefully and therefore we tried to find alternative routes in which would be relevant to our audio track. We decided to use Steep Hill as a starting point as it is a familiar location in the City of Lincoln and it is there that we found the sweet shop. The sweet shop wasn’t relevant to our topic but we made it relevant by using it as a place for an audience interaction in which the audience could buy some liquorice which is then mentioned in Florence Bonnett’s monologue. The reason we chose liquorice was because it was a popular sweet during the First World War. We could have introduced the sweet somewhere else in the performance, for example maybe each performer could have been eating some liquorice but we liked that the sweet shop was old fashioned and it fit in with the sweet shop sound scape in our track. Similarly, the primary school wasn’t relevant but we wanted to be walking by a school during the teacher monologue and so we used the primary school as a metaphor. Additionally, we could have searched for locations that related to the topic but by finishing at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, we wanted to give the audience the chance to go inside and see the history that inspired our performance. Generally, site-specific performance may mean to produce performance art at a certain location, but in our case “the city [became] the location of performance” (Pearson, 2010, p.41).

In the final week before the performance, my group and I arranged rehearsals almost every day to perfect our performance. This included finishing the audio track and walking the route repeatedly. However, depending on the pace we walked depended on when the track would finish and eventually we had to re-edit the track to shorten it. Once the track had finally been completed, we frequently walked the tour through until we felt confident to perform it to an audience. This included perfecting the timing and the performative sequence. On the performance day, we had a meeting with our class and lecturer to discuss the events of the day and then we had until our assessment to keep practising. We didn’t want to over rehearse but we did invite our friends to be a guinea pig audience so that if any mistakes were made, they were made in that performance for us to correct for the assessment. The only fault in this performance was that one of the recorders stopped working for an audience member which caused a delay within the tour; however I assumed that he had accidentally pressed stop and so I wasn’t worrying about it. Overall, my group and I felt prepared and ready to be assessed.

Performance Evaluation

To conclude, many aspects of the performance worked well but there could have been some improvements. Firstly, having two or three audience members worked well regarding audience interactions such as buying sweets and throwing paper aeroplanes and the fluency of the performance. The sweet shop interaction worked well because the audience members were able to buy some liquorice that they could eat throughout the tour or take home with them. The liquorice related to the performance because it was a popular sweet during the war and this is something that the audience enjoyed. As for throwing paper aeroplanes, this succeeded in the first performance because the weather was dry and the aeroplanes could move further. However during the assessment, it started to rain and so the paper aeroplanes didn’t move very far which ruined the effect we were hoping for which was too measure the distance of where the paper aeroplanes had landed and video the interaction. If we had considered the weather conditions beforehand, plastic aeroplane models would have been a wiser option.

As our site was the City of Lincoln, we thought that an interesting theme could be about the history of Lincolnshire women during the Second World War. However in our feedback, it was pointed out that our audio didn’t relate to the site. At beginning of the module, our first task was to go on a “drift” to decide on the journey of the tour and we came across the Museum of Lincolnshire life which inspired our war theme idea. Even though we considered that the site didn’t relate to the theme, we ordered the monologues so that they would play at certain locations of the tour that would make sense. For example, the teacher monologue and the school children sound scape started playing when we arrived at the school just after the classroom scene where we had written the surnames of the women in our piece on chalk boards which were then presented to the audience using a performative sequence. As for improvements, the track still hadn’t finished when we arrived at the museum meaning that I had been walking too fast. If we had finished the audio track weeks before the assessment, we could have spent the final weeks perfecting timing. Another thing was that we had mistakenly used a jet sound effect in the audio when the topic was about the First World War aeroplanes. However, as we couldn’t record the sound of a real aeroplane, we had to find the sound effect on a free sounds website and the jet sound was all that was available. Last of all, unfortunately the problem that we had with the recorder before the assessment occurred again but this was due to technical issues. If I was to alter the final performance I would have slowed the walking down especially because some of the audience members walked quite slowly and I didn’t want to rush them and I would have tested the recorders many times before the assessment so that the technical problem could have been prevented. All of these problems should have been considered beforehand.

Ultimately, my experience with site specific performance has made me realise that performance is live art that can take place at any location in any shape or form and as Mike Pearson states, “site may be transformed by the disruptive presence of performance seeking a relationship other than that of a ready-made scenic backdrop against which to place its figures.” (Pearson, p.2, 2010).

Word Count: 3160

Works Cited:

Bieri, A.H. (2012) Audio Walks: Documentary Art for Planning Education and Research. Doctoral Candidate. Virginia Tech, College of Architecture and Urban Studies.

Blast Theory (2011) Fixing Point. [online] Brighton: Blast Theory. Available from [Accessed 11 May 2015]

British Council (2015) Theatre and Dance. [online] United Kingdom: British Council. Available from [Accessed 10 May 2015]

Cash, J. (2008) The Drama Teacher. [online] Available from [Accessed 10 May 2015]

Corbin, A. (1916) The Fallen. [online] Available from [Accessed 11 May 2015]

Coverly, M. (2012) The Art of Wandering. Harpenden: Old Castle Books Ltd.

De Botton, A. (2003) The Art of Travel. London: Penguin Books.

Dreamthinkspeak. (2013) One Day, Maybe. [Online] Available from [Accessed 11 May 2015]

Guggenheim (2015) Guggenheim. [online] The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Available from [Accessed 8 May 2015]

Lincolnshire Echo (2013) British tank military memorial unveiled in Lincoln – with pictures. Lincolnshire Echo. 10 March. Available from [Accessed 10 May 2015]

Lonetwin (2011) The Boat Project. [online] Available from [Accessed 11 May 2015]

Pearson, M. (2010) Site-specific performance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Pope, J. (1916) War Girls. [online] Available from [Accessed 11 May 2015]

The Guardian (2013) The Borough – Review. [online] The Guardian. Available from [Accessed 11 May 2015]

Site and Actions

During Tuesday’s session, I wasn’t present but my group visited the location of our site and tried to get a clear idea of where certain sounds need to be played, the placing of the monologues and the actions etc. They also went to the Lincoln Archive in which they found letters from the Beechey family. They couldn’t take photos of the letters as you had to pay but they had taken notes and written down some of the sentences from the letters that we could use in our audio track. Furthermore, because Florence Bonnett built tracks for the tanks during the war, we thought it would be a good idea if we built planes with the audience to symbolise that we too are helping build necessities for the war. By using foam planes, the audience can gradually “build the planes” on their journey up Steep Hill and this will be good for our performance because we are using interactions and audience involvement.

We thought during the classroom scene, the person guiding the audience could ring a bell to signify the children coming into school or the end of play time. We also thought that the tour guide could start moving around like a plane and whilst doing so, dropping stones to signify bombs dropping from the planes. Finally, we thought that using an old war song such as “We’ll Meet Again” would be nice to add to the audio after Florence talks about her Fiancé Richard. The only problem is, we won’t be able to use an actual track and so we will have to sing it ourselves. These are just a few little ideas we thought would be interesting to consider.

During today’s session, we made a list of the definite structure of our performance and so all we need to work on now is the audio track and the actions. It would be wise if we started working at our site location a lot more from now on, just to make sure everything fits together and we feel comfortable with our ideas. Karen joined us on our walk to our site location and she suggested ideas and advised us on where would could improve or what not to include and this was really useful. Ultimately, we need to work and think carefully about the timing in our audio track, making sure that the audio moves smoothly with the walk up to the museum and with the actions. With this in mind, our main objective is to finish the audio track as soon as possible, but without rushing it, so that we can begin practicing and making sure our performance is precise.

Amy Clarke


At the beginning of this week, my group and I sat down and devised some monologues that could be included in our audio track. We managed to write three draft monologues for Amy Beechey, Florence Bonnett and the teacher. We tried to use words and phrases that would have been used during 1915 instead of using modern language and also we chose to write the monologues in present tense to make it feel like the women are talking to you in the audio track. Although what we have written so far are just rough ideas, it is relieving that we are finally starting to go somewhere with our performance progression, our audio track and also our understanding of the whole idea of site-specific performance.

Today we managed to record two of the monologues but there is still a lot of work to be done. Additionally, Amy Beechey’s monologue needs to be more emotional and because I am the one speaking on the track, I need to work on making sure my voice sounds clear and I pronounce words correctly, instead of feeling too comfortable in my own accent. By adjusting how I pronounce certain words and the way I speak and if I try to sound like I am a mother who has lost her sons in the war, it will make the audio track more interesting and believable. The same goes for Florence Bonnett’s and the teacher’s monologues, the characters will sound more convincing if the monologues sound clear and the words are spoken correctly. This is something that we can work on over Easter in time for when we all return and it is closer to our performance and by then, hopefully we will have most of our audio track completed, if not, then at least a rough copy.

Furthermore, next week we are taking a trip to the Lincolnshire Archive to look at the many war letters from the Beechey family. This will be useful for our audio tracks also because we’d like to include some, or at least one, of the letters. Also, we will most likely be visiting our site because recently we have spent a lot of time on the audio rather than the site.

Amy Clarke


Earlier this week, my group and I had a meeting with Conan about his performance “Leaving Home” which is based on Amy Beechey and the loss of her sons, which is one of the stories we would like to involve in our performance. We spoke about using costumes to help develop characters and Conan mentioned that the female cast members in Leaving Home had to wear corsets and therefore they needed to see how their bodies worked differently in those types of clothes. We also spoke about sounds and music in our performance and he advised us to research the sounds and music of 1915 to have a clear idea of what would be appropriate for our piece. Conan also told us the location of Amy Beechey’s grave and so a visit to her grave might be useful. Additionally, Conan advised us to start with a theme first and possibly use 1915 as a base time. He said it would be a wise idea to research into how war changed women and the patronizing expectations of women and also events involving women, during the war. I found it really useful that Conan said to focus on symbolic small moments that involve audience participation rather than just creating a grand performance alongside the audio track. The main things mentioned in the meeting was to involve the audience a lot more, use symbolism and think carefully about how audio and performance integrate. The meeting was very useful and much appreciated.

Furthermore, after the meeting we began engaging in further research about women in 1915 and thinking about the expectations of women before the war such as housework, cooking, looking after the children etc. and then the masculine jobs that women had to do such as working in factories making tracks for the tanks, like Florence Bonnett. We also managed to type up a rough copy of something that could be mentioned in our audio track to introduce the topic of the performance and give the audience an idea of what the theme of the performance is.

Today we spent time at our site (Steep Hill) and recorded various sounds. We recorded sounds such as people walking and talking up Steep Hill, sounds in the sweet shop such as the cash register, the door bell and the sound of sweets being measured and also we recorded the sound of some machines that were being used for road works because that made us think of the factory work during the war.

Karen suggested that listening to the sounds can make you think of other sounds for example, Karen thought the sweets being poured sounded like pebbles and Laura thought it could be bullets. With this in mind, we decided that we are going to record sounds that we hear over the weekend and see if it reminds us of anything that could be relevant to our piece. We also agreed that we should start thinking about monologues.


Amy Clarke

Seminar discussion and further research.

During Friday’s seminar, we discussed “framing the performance” and “thresholds”. I found the example of the artwork in a gallery very helpful as I understand that the threshold is the picture and that the elegant frame is what makes the artwork look more presentable.  As a group, we came up with the idea that the headphones could be the threshold before the performance, for example, just like an audience member walking through the doors of the theatre, the headphones are a different form of entrance and are a metaphor for the feeling of an audience member walking through the door. There are many possible frames for our performance and that could be the costumes, Lincoln city itself but mainly, the walk during the performance.

In her essay Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag mentions something that I believe is relevant to our performance development. She suggests that  “it is the defence of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory”. She argues that, today, interpretation over-powers content and that “developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content” (Sontag, 1961).

The reason I think this text is relevant is because one of the main focuses in a site-specific performance is obviously the site, the form and the way in which the performance connects to the site. However, the content within our site-specific performance is equally as important. Although we have been focussing on how we will be performing our piece and making it relevant to the site, the content in which we will be including takes over the importance of the walk through Lincoln and how we interpret the characters and performance. We will be providing historical information about events and people in the war, and therefore this content will be of more interest to the audience. Also, during the seminar, we discussed “space and place” and that a place is something we have to construct for it to mean something. The walk during our performance may not be completly relevent but the content that we will be including in our performance throughout the walk is interesting and therefore in our case, the space and place of the performance does mean something.

My point is that, if the audience don’t understand the relevance of the walk (the space and place) during the performance, the content will be what they find interesting and the walk is just a form of performance, therefore I mostly agree with what Susan Sontag suggests but in the case of our performance, form and content are equally important.

Sontag, S. (1961) Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Amy Clarke