Let There Be Bunting Everywhere (paper and human)

Within the created Tea Room space we placed bunting; some with facts about the prison and some with comments from people who had participated in the mini task outside Lincoln Castle.

Some of the words written on the bunting were as follows:

Facts on the prison used:

  • – Until 1817, hangings took place outside the castle near the appropriately named ‘Strugglers Inn’ public house
  • – Separate System – When prisoners were allowed to exercise they had to wear masks, which prevented them from seeing each other, they held a rope to avoid bumping into each other

Comments by participants of task at Lincoln Gaol

  • – Nobody to trust, lonely, alone, individual, scary, no identity
  • – A dark sense of claustrophobia, entrapment, fear & not being able to breathe
  • – Lost, but connected to everyone with me. Restrained space …
  • – I hated the feeling of not being able to see when I was blind folded. I was trapped

We wanted these to encourage the audience to write on some of the bunting; outlining the thoughts and feelings they experienced throughout the performance.

These are some of the comments left by audience:

  • – The contrast of pieces throughout was very effective
  • – It gives the journey purpose. You are made to pay attention + absorb what is going on. Still felt very out of control, was just following
  • Very impressive, interactive performance using a juxtaposition narrative

The final comment made me feel that we had accomplished all that we had set out to do, as one of our main aims was to create juxtaposition between a prison and a tearoom.  Our ideas were to contrast the cheerful atmosphere of a tea room with the claustrophobic atmosphere of the gaol. When we served people we were trying to give the impression of being slightly deranged as people in gaol often lost their minds. The bunting was used to remind the audience of the thoughts of the people who had experienced our other piece based more closely on the prisoners’ life; also these were not the joyful expressions one would expect to see in a tea room.

We had the names of the establishments and people who had donated the sugar and flour when asked by the participants of the mini tasks. From this we wanted the audience to see the sense of community that we had created by asking people to collect these simple ingredients. These included sugar from Starbucks, flour from Revival (a charity organisation in Lincoln) and flour from Sophie Grayson.

On the day we did not manage to carry out one of our objectives that of creating prison chapel boxes. At the last minute we discovered they could be a hazard to a disabled person as there was no way to make them wheelchair accessible. To make them concur to disabled dimensions they would block the doorways and hence would have to have been moved to allow the audiences to enter and exit the room, thus creating a health and safety hazard. This would also have hindered the flow of the piece and created problems if more than one group were in the studio because when would they be moved? This also meant that the soundscape we had planned to go with the boxes had to be abandoned as there was no way of making it effective without the boxes. We decided that instead of the boxes and soundscape we would just allow the audience to walk between the two studios holding a rope with knots on it like the prisoners would have done when exercising so they were allowed to experience that part of the prisoner’s lives. We felt that this was the best compromise given the situation we found ourselves in. Looking back I felt that this was actually a positive move and the link between the audience and the bunting was stronger as they had experienced being in a similar position to the flags when they were holding the rope. They themselves are the bunting so when they put the comments on the flags they were leaving behind a more personal experience than if they had not taken part in this exercise.

Isolation and a Touch of Sanity

Site Specific has been a long, tough road for me and I am personally glad it is now over!

However, I am still appreciative of the work and effort I have put towards my final performance and the routes I had to take to get it to where it was.

Although our original plan to have our audience transfer between Studios 1 and 2 via our soundscape chapel boxes had to be scrapped, due to disability allowances and health and safety, the overall performance went with very few glitches. Continue reading “Isolation and a Touch of Sanity”