Week 2: First steps into our own invisible cities

Our second session involved the telling of memories and stories, particularly of cities in our case, and why that particular memory has such meaning with us. We did this by passing a ball of wool around from person to person as they shared their particular memory of a place. We created a web of memories and it showed that it is very easy to make emotional attachments to places; however, these sites have multiple meanings to different people.


Meaning is the key point here as it encouraged us to think what a place means and why. We explored Carl Lavery’s ‘25 Instructions for performance in cities’ and chose a few exercises he suggested to give to students as a preparation before attempting said ’25 instructions’ to perform around Lincoln. Tasks like “ask a friend to guide you through the city via instructions given on a mobile phone, alternatively; sketch out smell maps, taste maps, audio maps, affective maps and geological maps of the city, or return to the same spot every day for a week and witness what happens there.” (Lavery, 2005, p. 233)


Following this study we began to walk around Lincoln, attempting these tasks and modifying a couple for our own experiment. We began by nominating one of our group to give a blindfolded person a set of instructions to guide them through the city so that they could get a feel for the city on a different level; through sound, smell, touch, taste rather than seeing a place which they would already be very familiar with. This allowed us to then document the city on a whole new level and start to acknowledge new layers and fragments to a place that we thought we knew. Lavery expressed that these instructions allowed students “reflect on and share their insights and experiences through performative lectures [or even create] monologues about the place” (Lavery, 2005, p. 233). The information gathered is then used as a source and allows students to see performance as “something that resists categorization, something that is not theatre, not art, not dance, not film. Something, in other words, that allows you to do what you want.” (Lavery, 2005, pp. 233-4).


We then investigated the concept of “place” in more detail; documenting what Lincoln Guildhall and Stonebow  meant to the public with results such as; shelter for the homeless, a meeting point, a beautiful piece of architecture, a piece of history and locals commenting that they hadn’t ever really noticed them in detail before as it was just another part of Lincoln. When asking questions about the arches it became clear that sometimes you have to look beyond what is at surface value, every site will have some hidden truths and by exposing these secrets it allows us to see the city or site in a way that we would never have considered before. This links to Italo Calvino’s concept of Invisible cities and might be worth deeper consideration when beginning our search for a site.


Lavery, C. (2005), ‘Teaching Performance Studies: 25 instructions for performance in cities’, Studies in Theatre and Performance 25: 3

Lincoln Unknown

Lincoln as out stimulus for our piece posed many questions in my mind and made me realise how little I actually knew about the city in which I have lived for some time now. With this in mind, reading Carl Lavery’s ’25 Instructions for Performing in Cities’ (2010) inspired within me a fervent desire to explore and get to know Lincoln’s little know past and present.

Our groups attentions were caught by a few of the instructions, but specifically:

  • 19 – Take a video camera into the city and follow a dog or cat for as long as you can.

As well as the instructions, some of the tasks for students also intrigued us, specifically:

  • Deliberately get lost in the city

After discussing in detail are approach to these instructions, Charlotte and I decided to meet up and explore Lincoln with this new found fascination. We began at the High Street, which as usual, was a buzzing hive of diverse activity, with so many different types of people all taking the same route up or down, following paths into the same shops, cafés or side streets. It was on the High Street in which we encountered a very unusual site. Continue reading “Lincoln Unknown”

Instruction 9

9. ‘Make the private public. Perform what you normally do indoors outdoors. This should include: cooking, eating, reading, washing, brushing your teeth, watching television and sleeping. Do this over a period of twenty-four hours. Stage it in a city centre, theatre or shop window’ ((Lavery, Carl (2005) ‘Teaching Performance Studies: 25 instructions for performance in cities’, Studies of Theatre and Performance, 25 3, p. 288))

The above instruction gave us the inspiration for our research task. We wanted to find out how people would react to taking private actions into the public eye; an application of make-up was our choice of private action made public. Consequently, we chose three different places; the library, the LPAC café and the Waterside shopping centre. Although the destinations were different, there was much of the same reaction.


Continue reading “Instruction 9”

Pretty Invitations!

Today in class, I began with a map of central Johannesburg, making a ‘journey’ with a starting point and a destination. I then improvised gestures for what I went past on the map.

“A shift in form can be noted from performance that inhabits a place to performance that moves through space’s.” ((PEARSON, M. 2010. Site-specific performance. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.p,87))

The use of this “journeying” further inspired our idea. The site has a presence, but so can the journey from each site, this intrigues me. The journey becomes the site. Continue reading “Pretty Invitations!”