Week 3: Routes and Roots

Govan’s study into routes and roots acknowledges the rethinking of how people respond to landscape and place, how “community participants and the audience will engage with particular locations, sites and settings. It is concerned with the ways in which physical places and sites are framed and re-imagined and how forms of performance that reference the popular have the potential to disrupt the discipline of conventional theatre spaces.” (Govan, 2007, p. 139). I found this particular study very engaging, relating directly to site specific and being very appropriate to our prospective site, The Lawn. The Lawn, currently home to the county council, a popular venue for weddings and with extensive grounds for the public it is not the immediate culprit for having a history of being an asylum for the mentally ill. Carlson explores the idea that conventional theatre buildings and other public performance spaces are tainted and occupied with histories and other purposes; “the ghosts of those who have used them in the past.” (Govan, 2007, p. 140). Mike Pearson and Michael Shanks further this performative concept, describing it as “a balance between the host and the ghost”, the mediation between the contemporary and the past, in which “no single story is being told.” (Pearson and Shanks, 2001, p. 96). By combining these two notions of the ghosts of the past and the balance between those histories and it’s now negotiation with contemporary performance, one begins to understand further the weight of site specific and how our performance art will not just be a show put on in the LPAC to represent the happenings at the Lawn; but the history will drive the piece and frame it into a narrative or even just serving as a rough shape upon which to experiment within. Routes on roots, therefore, offers a stable academic and research base from which we will work off. Upon uncovering the past stories of the Lawn, we will create our own contemporary revisionings, relating everything back to the site. Our next step, therefore, is to go to the city archives, and reveal what exactly happened all those years ago, how and why it happened, and potentially to whom.


Govan , (2007). ‘Between Routes and Roots’. In: Routledge (ed), Making a performance. 1st ed. England: Non.

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