Performance Text with Commentary

This is an attempt to make sense of the nonsensical – to an eXTENT


For a better context and understanding of how to use this entry is that anything in bold is commentary whilst that in regular font is that of the scriptanything boxed up is content from my reflections during the module at different points.

For some wide and overreaching analysis of where this project came from, it is an amalgamation of a very wide range of practitioners, writers, artists, contemporaries and snippets of our our process. We connected strongly with the factor that ‘Everything is a Remix’ and therefore attempting to attain an original would be superfluous in terms of a project as well as distancing ourselves unnecessarily from the module. This, along with our interest in blending the line between actor and character, or performer and performance gave us the primary sources of Eugene Ionesco, Rory Mullarkey, Will Eno, Peter Handke, Chris Goode, Tim Crouch and Simon Stephens.

Our attempt to include and introduce a number of ‘Current Issues’ within the performance was designed to be subtle and metaphorical instead of a blunt force implementation of a single factor. I was very keen to retain a semblance of narrative as the Eno approach of consistent construction and breakdown of the story or character is an emotionally evocative and draining experience. This is also effective at distancing the spectator from the actors, listening to the words and actions sans emotional attachment, to a degree.

With a nod to constant documentation, I wrote, at this stage, the initial ideas I had for our work:

The Chairs, Ionesco Interview, Will Eno – Thom PainCannibals – Rory Mullarkey
This is about loss. The loss of a memory. And as memory makes up you, as memory is all that you can remember, when you forget, does a part of you go with it? And as the memory fades, as does those all important visceral attachments to it. They become more sedated, more numb. Less important.
Clear basis in ‘everything’s a remix’ Constant postmodern references to show the work in progress metaphor of the painting and the script itself.
Serious consideration taken into scenographic elements and a high concentration on semiotics to display the correct message to the audience.
Allegri – Miserere Mei, Deus
Berkley, perception of food taste, cigarettes, colour are all mental perceptions as no one colour, taste can be nailed down. Perceptions change and therefore cannot be a constant from the object, rather a mental phenomenon presented by the individual. (Do a section on the paint colour, taste of a cigarette etc.) John Locke. A ‘sensible object’

These may seem a little incoherent or inconsistent but I think is a real insight into our starting point, our springboard if you like into this performance process.

Placing the chair softly. No one is there. M and J prep the stage, moving around and shifting props.

Only two lines in! Well this concentration on the ’empty chair’ is a echo back to Ionesco’s Chairs where hundreds on invisible individuals join the old couple on stage, filling the empty stage with their non-existence. Also, as Roach and Rayner interestingly discuss, the empty chair is full of potential. Of what has been and what can be.

J: Would you please join us?

M: Are you sure?

J: Me? Yes of course.

M: It’s just…

J: What?

M: Nothing, it’s just… It’s just…

J: What.

M: How do you know they are right for it?

Here we aimed to set up the broken and conversational style of the piece. We also make no apology in attempting to include the audience. This has real connections to Eno’s Thom Pain: Based on Nothing in terms of its style.

J: I think that’s the whole thing. A special relation to language. People who, maybe, mistrust it in some big ways, but also know that it’s all they really have. There’s a sound to that kind of relation. You hear it almost instantly. It’s just a good balance of fear and need. Like, a kind of quavering, with authority. Probably, also, I think you have to be honest. Honest and humble. I think you have to say to yourself, here are the rules, here are the boundaries, and, within these limits, I will do everything I can to create an effect of infinity. [to the volunteer] And you are that. All of that, the whole thing.

This section is an edited and adjusted interview with Eno, discussing the necessity and intrigue in being a performer. We are inviting the member of the audience to fill this ultimately infinite role. Which is ridiculous..! However, again we are setting the context and style of the performance.


M: …and I don’t have that?

[J lifts her eyebrows]

M: Let me paint you

J: Okay

They look at each other

As long as it won’t take too long.

M: I promise it won’t. I only need you for the early work, so we can probably go straight through, but let me know anytime if you need to stop. I’ve plenty of food and you can rest in the bed anytime if you’re tired.

This is transposed straight from Mullarkey’s seminal Canibals. We enjoyed, upon first reading, the premise of the painter and the model. It has real metaphorical flexibility and buoyancy to carry a different message. We latched onto this as a portion of our breakable narrative.

OK…Now you sit.

J: Please sit.

M: Sit.

J: hank you. For… Thank you.

M: No need to thank me. We’re both doing things for each other.

J: I’m thanking you anyway.

M: Well I’ll thank you too, then, in that case.

J: This will be over quickly.

Do you want a drink?

Ignore them [audience]. They are nothing. Invisible. Just empty.

This last line is a little too obvious. It does, however connect a nice clear theory to performance! We choose to ignore the audience here but then are totally inclusive later on. That balance between fear and need…


M: I don’t want to confuse you

J: No

M: That wouldn’t help, not at all.

J: Like: he only lies

M: And: she only tells the truth.

J: Simple, but does the trick.


This following section is again taken directly from Cannibals. The creating of a character, live on stage from the beginning albiet staged and scripted. 

J: So who am I to be, then?

M: I think St Catherine. She was martyred in the early fourth century.

M goes to the computer and brings up googled examples of St Catherine. These can be wrong or incoherent choices. These are all live decisions.

It’ll be a hagigino… Hangong… [He turns and googles the word, allows google to speak it out loud then repeats] hagiographic icon, so there’ll be scenes from Catherine’s life around the outside: when she was tortured on the breaking wheel, for instance, or when she baptised the wife of the emperor Maxentius. There’ll be a main portrait in the centre through, a portrait of her, of you, so that’s what I need you to sit for. The scenes will show us some of the things she did, but the portrait will tell us who she really was.

More metaphor! We liked this content and context because it never comes to fruition or use. This is the most useless bit of information in the text. With hindsight, or a second viewing, this should be frustrating for the audience.


Contemporary Playwriting – Pornography

In relation to the rudimentary set-up of drama. Where do we place everyone?

B Ifor Evans. Historian etc. The Short History of English Drama

‘of the English theatre in the twentieth century, this at least can be said, that it is better than the English theatre of the nineteenth century’

19th C Theatrical desert. Worst period of drama. Panto, Vaudeville, melodrama – superficial theatre.

Not very auspicious, only just better than the worst.

The curfew of WW2 moved shows forward to 6, people went after work so no time to get changed which changed the composition of who went to the theatre.

Theatre consumer post war. interested in art but not interested in art in a deep or complex way.

UK is insulated from the avant garde. It isn’t seen as worthwhile. As it has no commercial place due to the bricks and mortar take of theatre.

Kenneth Tynan – First person to say fuck on a British stage. Provocative, highly intellectual. Love/hate figure.

George Devine, Artistic Director of the English Stage Company, first to bring the continental theatre over to the UK.

Royal Court becomes predominant theatre in the UK. The premier theatre of the 60’s ‘The Right to Fail’ – commonly attributed to Tony Richardson. ‘The writers theatre’

Joan Littlewood and Theatre Workshop – Research

Edward Bond brings down Theatre Censor 1965-68 since 1737

Theatre in the 60’s was an oppositional force – something that questioned both government policies and society’s underlying values.

Arguments for a Theatre – Barker

Stage Right – Jon Bull

Procrustean Bed – Fit evidence to your conclusion instead of using hte evidence to make your concculsion

Seems to think the exeriences of young people are the avenues worth following.

akira karsawa

‘inarticulate rage’



M: I can stop whenever.


At one time or another I used to have euphoric dreams; dreams in colour; this one which I had many years ago: I am walking through a brown forest, through long green grass, yellow light shining through the branches of the trees and at the end of the forest a luminous clearing where the colour met. Nothing else, save an ineffable joy. If at that time I had been preoccupied with my dreams, if I had tried to probe this dream, or rather to relive it, I might perhaps not have experienced it so fully; but that is what it was, earth and heaven interpenetrating one another, feeding one another and feeding me myself with vital sap. But alas, what that earth may be, what that light may be, that’s something I still don’t know, or rather something I…we no longer feel –

I have so much difficulty expressing myself…

It’s gone now. The light, the earth. I feel. I just don’t colour it as well as I used to. I’ve lost that. And I don’t know if I can get it back. Or perhaps they were never there. I…we’ll never know.

The section above is an amalgamation of Ionesco and myself. He wrote the basis of the dream and then I adjusted and moved sections to make it fit our premise a little better. We also introduce this constant correction from singular to plural: I to we. This acts as a breaker in the rhythm of the piece but also implements a concept constantly in the audience’s mind that this is a inclusive experience, that the actors are never alone in their work.


J: Do you want me to wear something?

M: There’s some clothes I use for models on the side. And take that stick, too. St Catherine is supposed to have a sword, but I don’t have a sword, so I’ll have to imagine one. The stick will be useful, though, to see how your hands clasp an object. I’ll wait outside for you to change. He goes. She looks around. She picks up a small icon and puts it into her pocket. She changes into the St Catherine clothes: a long, blue tunic and a belt. She waits.

J: And for the first time I…we hear human noises from the invisible crowd: bursts of laughter, muttering ‘shush’ing, ironic coughing. Faint at first, these sounds will grow before dying away. But ignore them. It’s passed.

M: Ready? She picks up the stick.

J: How should I hold this?

M: Like you would a sword. She holds the stick awkwardly. Don’t think about the way you’re doing it, just do it.

J: What?

M: Just try and clear your mind.

J: Yes. Just. Okay.

M: Do you feel it?

J: That was impressive. The dream, the way you told it. I listened and you told me…us.

M: You were impressive too. It is not mine, well it was. Not anymore.

J: Are you comfortable? That’s great. That’s really good. I’m doing really well. I was –

M: Inspired.

J: Considering we didn’t have time to finish before…[the audience]


Thank you for listening.

You can go now. Thank you again

M: Am I that?

J: Are we what?

M: What you said earlier. Are we that?

J: The whole thing? A special relation to language? No, that was Eno, not us.

M: But it feels true.

J: Of course, but it still isn’t me

M: Us


J: It still isn’t us.

M: She looks sad for a moment but then relaxes slightly. Good. Tell me something.

J: What?

M: Tell me something about you.

J: Erm…

M: Tell me about your life. If I understand your life, it will help me understand you, and I can try and put it in the painting.


Anything. Just start with the smallest things.

This was designed to break down and rebuild to break down again the feeling or notion of narrative, character or any other particular Aristotelian concepts of story. This was also placed here to crack the rhythm that had been previously built naturally from Jasmine and myself being Western performers.

J: The ridgeline stretched across my vision. forcing my horizon up up up then down to the cross. In the ground. The calluses are gone but the pain remains. They’re only shadows now. Reaching as the sun spreads. The colours playing tricks with my mind. There are less trees than there used to be, patchy across the hills. They seem less imposing, less overwhelming less, well… The leaves are still there. That hasn’t changed. They’ve seen the world, yawning to the sun every day. The path has shrunk as well. Flattened by stamps and carts, footfall, feeling the rock, the…

This is where we first introduced the only semblance of narrative. The word “rock” and what it stands for becomes more apparent but this is it’s first outing.

Sorry. That’s not really the smallest thing.

M: It’s fine.

J: No, I should have started smaller. It’s too easy just to jump in on your first impulse.

M: Impulse is good though. You were saying about a rock?

The section below returns to Cannibals. We relive and probe into the memory, building up a character backstory. Feeding life into the performer and into the audiences ability to suspend disbelief as we are offering this as an option to them.

Ok I was born on a farmstead about 4 days walk from here.

I don’t know how long ago, for some reason no one told me it was important to keep count.

I don’t remember them too much about my parents except my mother was fall that my father was short

From my childhood,

M: you remember lying outside in the shade in the forest looking up at some branches above my head.

You remember throwing a ball

You remember running down a track

You remember falling and cutting my leg on the palms of my hands, crying.

You remember night when I was scared of the dark and I couldn’t sleep.

I remember thinking it was darker in the room than when I close my eyes.

I  remember a bull, a big one, snorting at me as I passed it field.

You remember my mother crying in the night.

You remember my baby brother dying and helping my father to dig a hole at the far end of our field.

Together: You remember thinking it might be selfish of me to be reassured by her crying but it stopped me being scared of the dark.

J: You remember a man coming to the house and talking to my parents.

You remember he smelled of potatoes and then he left.

You remember he came back again and took me with him to a farm on the other side of the Valley.

You remember the farm on the other side of the Valley was exactly the same as mine except smaller and on the other side of the Valley.

You remember he picked me up in his arms through me up up up and down onto the bed.

Recording of a girl speaks the following lines. M moves over to the computer to cue the sound, in full view of the audience.

You remember he promised not to touch me until I was older.

You remember he kept his promise and I was glad.

You remember he showed me how to chop vegetables and to feed the chickens.

You remember he was the milk the cows.

You remember he told me my parents are dead now and I only had him but that felt ok.

You remember he did touch me in the night and it hurt at first but then it didn’t and then I did again.

I didn’t bleed and then I did and then I didn’t.

I rub my feet. To hurt all the time and I was worried I was getting fat.

You remember I went to an old woman at the valleys over and she told me what was happening.

She told me that I should rest a lot and that I shouldn’t drink vodka and that I should be wary of losing my footing in places with sharp jagged rocks.

M hands out a script to two random audience members, one reads as A one reads as B.

Despite the construction of the narrative and character, we pass the onus onto the audience to continue the story and character. This adjusts the premise, offering them control to where and how we receive the information, it directly feeding into the physical element of this part of the performance.

A: You remember I lay on my back every night terrified I would roll onto my front in my sleep

B: You remember one afternoon I went outside to fetch the milk pail after my husband had gone to the market

A: You remember I felt something split and push inside me and I bent forward suddenly and dropped my pale and the milk ran down the path and mingled with the mud at the edge of the grass.

B: You remember I called out several times for my husband but then, you remember, you remembered he was out at the market.

A: You remember I went inside slowly and took a sheet off the bed and spread it on the floor

B: You remember I straighten it out with my feet before I squatted down and that when I squatted down my calves hurt because I haven’t done it for a while

A: You remember my knees what up around my ears and I scrutinised the door frame very hard

B: I felt something push inside and I pushed back against it

A: You remember I pushed and it started to hurt

B: You remember I pushed and it hurt more than ever before but I knew it was worth it

A: You remember I pushed and I look through the window at the sun on the trees on the ridgeline

B: You remember I pushed and I felt opened up from my crown to my toes

A: You remember I pushed and my toes made a fist on the floor

M and J are knelt facing each other on the bed. Each time M says ‘You remember’ he hits her in the face. When J responds, she hits him in the face too.

This section is again taking directly from Cannibals. It also draws huge amounts of inspiration from Marina Abramovic and her piece Light/Dark. Which also makes use of the visceral act of striking another human.

Postmodernity, Mediatised and Global Cultures

Malpas is a really good primer for postmodernism (99-2000) Good read for this subject.

Bourriad has more a conceptual basis in life rather than theatrical

Postmodernism (in art) postmodernity, two very different things.

Postmodernism in art is a bit more straightforward. Modernism was a more structured and ‘placed’. A comparative backtrack to modernism is a good way to relate and understand postmodernism.

Modernism, post WW1. A Grand Narrative. In art, control, rigor, technique, order.

Modernism formalises after WW1. Seeded in Victorian era. Process of rebuilding from 20’s onwards.

Postmodernism, the post is misleading as it doesn’t necessarily come after the modern. WW1 is the first ‘ripping’ and entrance into modernism.

Dada movement, second wave surrealist.

In art, ‘the idea in art’, postmodern – ‘the process’

Modernism, clarity, nothings wasted. Postmodern, perfection of pointlessness, ornament. Postmodern. Faux Tudor.

Process is, at the very least on a level to the product. Wooster group.

The feeling I’m getting is that Postmodernism in art seems to be reactive to modernism as opposed to an attempt to create something new.

Postmodern (philosophical)

constitutes a doubt about the relationships between parts and whole.

Epistemic certainty. – How do I know that I know what I know. An inherent contradiction. The theory that denies theory

parts and wholes..

Concepts are what mediate between you and the world – Kant refers to it a synthesis.

Understanding concepts is what helps synthesise. The pretend to unify things into wholes. Kant – Synthesis of the Manifold.

Concepts aren’t given, aren’t innate. Concepts are not raw data, they are constructs. Descartes proposed that the ‘self’ is free from those kinds of barriers. That I am ‘given to myself’ directly.

If I doubt everything, I might get an answer to something!

Postmodernism says that this is not the case but that we are in face ‘decentered’ from ourselves. But how?

‘The limits of my concepts are the limits of my world’ (kind of Liechtenstein)

Doubt about the centrality of the self, about the centre of the self in the world. Doubt about the world as it is, about the reality, the truth of that. Relative perception. Fundementally tied to a doubt around concept. Instability of a concept. COncept belongs to a network of other concepts. Shared understanding shift and move in relation to language, social structue etc. Like a sea of marbles.

Postmodern thought isn’t always self reflective. We are actually trying to achieve something in postmodern philosophy. It isn’t just relativism. There is something to achieve.

Notion of the original is thrown into doubt.

As a concept it is unstable.

gabbans and method


On a personal level, this was an incredibly moving and terrifying section of the performance. It had so much in terms of passion and emotion that this truly (and I don’t speak this way to make an academic point) did blend the line between performance and performer. I could not tell if Jasmine was genuinely hurt or that she was covering her own emotions which characterisation. This left me in a very difficult and confused situation where my own position on stage and identity as a performer was questioned as I was not sure if, at any time, I was sharing the same liminal position of performativity as my stage partner, a misalignment would also not academically work to our advantage. 

You remember I pushed and pushed with a quick in my neck You remember I pushed as I screwed up the sheets with my feet You remember I pushed and it hurt You remember I pushed and it was worth it You remember I pushed and it hurt You remember I pushed it was worth it You remember it was worth it You remember I pushed You remember I pushed You remember I pushed You remember I pushed You remember I pushed You remember I pushed You remember I pushed You remember I pushed I remember I pushed You remember I pushed my remember I

You remember I was told it supposed to cry

You remember  I was told it supposed to move

It’s supposed to breathe at least

You remember that

It isn’t a child if it isn’t alive

It isn’t a son or daughter

So what is it then a Blob, a rock a rock a rock a rock a rock a rock a rock

M: I looked out of the window

 J:Can you put that in? Can you put that in the painting?

This monologue was written last and is woefully, crassly biographical. This was our narrative swansong, offering a final nod to consistency and linear character. This section is heavily influenced by the writings of Will Eno in his opus Thom Pain: Based on Nothing where he sublimely contorts the line between performer and performance to the extent that you are mentally exhausted by keeping up with the truth and the lies, the honesty and the created.

M: [Sitting in the now vacant chair] I struggle constantly. Not constantly but it comes in waves. You know, like a cold sweat in the middle of a balmy night. Like a heart drop when you remember.. And it’s not so much a struggle as a worry. A wavering worry. A fear that something is… That everyone can… That I am not as good as I think I am. Some might see that as humbling or a necessary dampening of ego but it’s disheartening and I get these urges to scream. A scream so deep, so loud and so freeing that my throat burns, burns for days. Hurts to swallow. I want to scream. I want to scream, tear my shirt off, smash through the window and run until my legs burn, the sweat stinging my eyes, run till my legs are numb and the steam emanates off my face, because if I lose this, well, I loose it all, then I’ll run further and my legs collapse and the sweat evaporates. Then I’ll.. [Maybe finding a place on the ground, trying to find the panting or painting, or neither] Well I never got this far so I don’t know what would come next. Maybe I’d vomit, maybe I’d quietly cry to myself or to a passing stranger. Or I’d shun comfort and put on a brave face, or just lie in the middle of the road, sweating, panting, letting the worry steam off me. [Sitting up, maybe] Or I’d imply a slight discomfort overtly in the presence of others with a quiet sigh and keep my struggle, and keep my running, and keep my screaming and keep my tears to myself. St. Catherine wouldn’t smoke… I’ll edit it out later. This isn’t finished either. I’ll cut and move bits around to make it gel better later..

J: Go to sleep.

[Moves over to the bed]

M: It’s getting there though. I really think we’re on to something, J.

[Collapses into the position of Jesus in Michelangelo’s Pietà]

This was another nice, aesthetically fun image to quickly create. It also contains a huge amount of ghosting for my own past of performances. This Pietà and my position as Jesus holds an emotional connection to a very important previous show I took part in which jolted and shifted my perception of performance and acting.

Postdramatic Theatre

Playwriting, Scripting and Devising

21st November – debbie tucker-green symposium?

Postdramatic Theatre – Hans-Thies Lehmann (2006) Writing from a european context. It is an analytical survey of 150 of european theatre.

Discussing industrial revolution forward in terms of theatre.

Lehmanns case studies were works from the 1970’s

He is driving a wedge between the concepts of theatre and drama.

The deconstruction and dissemination between Aristotelian theories of drama and the new.

There are some forms or paradigms that no longe can be understood bythe conventions of the past. They entertain a relationship to drama’s they were ‘birthed’ from the past.

Aesthetic logic – Received critical mass and now, instead of this postmodernism being seen as alongside art, it can now have its own concept and term as of 40 years ago.

Ability to digest information has changed.The internet, magazines etc.

PM is the larger contextual term, culturally. Post-dramatic is the finer tool to analyse theatre and drama.

Drama, traditionally interchangable with Aristotle


J: He talks too much. It’s ok. We can change it though. Change him. Change it.

[She stands and walks over to the ‘painting’]

J: I don’t think he’s really a painter at all. There’s no easel here for a start, no canvas. Just a paintbrush and the warm air of the stage. But I can see it. I can see what he was painting. I can see it in my mind. I remember that, it’s mine and he made that for me. For us.

[She moves over to the bed and lays on top of the covers, happy.]

[Lights fade out.]



Performance Text with Commentary

Essay Devlopment


This entry is an almost ‘dear diary’ process through a section of my essay question development and some of the ideas that were fed into my essay. This was constantly fluctuating and adjusting with new revelations and research. I have also entered my total works cited at the bottom for a conclusive list of sources I touched upon within my work.


I would also use The Human Ear by Alexandra Wood and Lungs by Duncan Macmillan as there was a shared space, time and performers, a theoretical ‘clean room’. I will also touch on Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing due to the creative colouring from the performer in the creative process.

The Human EarTRMEvent_Lungs

If this is a path I choose to go down, I would have to first define a few terms:

  • ‘Haunted Body’ – Whose body? Is this primarily the actors or could/should it include the haunted body of the spectator as well? Would that fit into the theory or is that an unnecessary stretch…
  • ‘Multiplicity of previous experiences’ – What defines the experience? Time constraint? is there a minimum number of experiences before ‘ghosting’ can commit? How vivid must the experience be? Must it be positive or could it be negative?
  • ‘Affect’ in a positive or negative? Does it matter as long as the experience takes place? This may depend on the route I chose to take with my argument.
  • Through looking at the spectator I would like to touch on the haunted nature of genre and the space of the theatre. We are ghosted by opinions as well as our own experiences. How did the roundabout/riverhead theatre space give way to this?
  • definition of the spectator, is this the passive act of watching or the active move of allowing for a shared and individual experience?

I would like to pose an argument within the structure of the essay to allow for a more formal and linear process:

  • The ghosting experience is a negative and derives a poor final experience for the spectator, marred by previous performances.
  • The ghosting is a positive experience, it allows for a more layered and detailed relationship between actor and spectator which can only serve to better connect audience to actor. This also generates a more personal experience for each individual as they bring their personal previous experiences to the performance.
ecology-factories-industry-pollution-skyline-smokeIDEAS FROM COLETTE CONROY’S THEATRE & THE BODY

Look into Bernhardt and her book The Art of Theatre. Theorise how the experience of the spectator can differ post-amputation. Similar to viewing a performance on the basis of being a celebrity?

The ‘ghosting’ or ‘exorcism’ of spectator wants on the performer shown through the character pains, suffering or sexual arousal. A performer we do not like, their character is punished on stage and we take enjoyment through the intertextual reading that the actor is indiscriminate in the perception of this suffering or pain. (Conroy, 2010, 4)

“The celebrity of the actor and the fact that she had had her leg amputated were reasons Bernhardt could earn her living in playing out her own death” (Conroy, 2010, 3-4)

Brings up the connection between the performer’s body and the audience’s body. This can be seen as a reflective process in a sense of haves and have nots. Talent or absurdity. The audience relies on their own physical capability as a lookout to what others, what performers are physically capable of.

Mentions the possibility of an “ideal spectator”. Does this exist? Conroy states this is purely an abstract idea and concept.

Separate the difference of the physical use of the body as a tool of communication, the now, the present, the performance in motion and the reflective experience which stands in difference or plurality to the communicative. The second is reflective in a sense of a comparative structure to deem the contrast.

  1. The use of the physical body in the moment of performance to deem genre, ‘correctness’ “there is an ideal body for an actor – a neutral medium of communication that can be trained and that can simply stand for a character without distracting the audience’s attention” (Conroy, 2010, 6)
  2. And despite 1. When the ideal body and training is not enough and the ‘ideal body’ is revered with celebrity status and the previous experiences of the body transcend into the current performance.

The shared semiotics between Human Ear and Lungs, the differences, how this feeds into the human experience of theatre and how these motives and scenographic choices feed into the haunted body of the performer.

Discuss the problem with the terminology spectator, to spectate is a passive decision whilst being an audience member you take on a role of your own. You have a place and role to play. How becoming a part of the event temporarily adjusts your involvement, how the multitude of bodies on stage and in the audience are never the same, never reacting the same way, reacting to weather, time, day of the week, and how this singular experience can never be relived in exactly the fame format as the first and only time. There can be adjustments to previous experiences but never a total reciprocation


Theatre audiences – Reception theory – Audience as one or as a group – Scenographic experience


“I’ll take a book of the shelf, any book and you’ll have turned down the pages and underlined things.Put stars in the margins. And I stare at the sentence you’ve highlighted. I’ll reread the paragraph. I’ll think what has she seen that I can’t see? What is it that I don’t understand?” (Macmillian, 2013, 65)


Argue that the shared ghosting of an actor as a spectator can be mirrored in the actor to their perception of a ghosted ‘spectator’. Show how through shared theatrical experience leading up to performance and through the show into the fall off an catharsis, the spectator, a part of the performance, plays a part in ghosting for the actor as the actor does for the spectator.

SO! Looking at:



The linear passage of experience and similarities between spectator and actor in this respect

The ghosting experience for the spectator

The mirrored ghosting experience for the actor.

Primary text is Carlson’s The Haunted Stage. Using elements of When we see Horses and Postdramatic Theatre to follow through.

A impersonates B whilst C looks on. (Eric Bentley) STARTING POINT! Passing on into Bernharnt and Theatre & Body to bring in the element of ghosting from actor to audience. Relate to Dan Reballato article with David Tennant. Passing over to the audience, we look into the similarities of perceptions between audience and actor, slipping seamlessly over into the perception of the actor and how, as spectators to their own altered performance, they have the same ghosting perceptions of the spectator for a warped and heightened perspective.

How is the actor ghosted? By the space, time, actors on stage, props, lighting, all scenographic elements. How this will degenerate over time as the multiplicity of experiences start to alter their previous perception of the experience, repitition. The changing force in this is that of the audience, the spectator: C. C as a ghosting element to the actor opens up avenues such as:

  • Actors perception of audience ‘type’. These can differ from ‘fractured’ ‘giving’ ‘loving’ ‘distrustful’ ‘hostile’ as well as many more.
  • How this is read by the actors
  • How this impacts on the performance
  • How, after experience, these types are built into the actor who on certain actions within the performance, gauge the type and will, consciously or subconsciously play  to the type, affecting performance through ghosting.



Lungs haunt our past transgressions and act as a social, economical and environmental ‘black box’ to life. Using a comparison between Lungs and The Human Ear, how does the haunted body affect the spectator when posed with a multiplicity of previous experiences from a performer. How, in turn, does the performer relay their own ghosting mid-performance?

I’m going to roll with this and see what happens…



Abromovic, M. (2010) Theatre & The Body. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Bennett, S. (1997) Theatre Audiences. Routledge .

Bentley, E 1965, The Life Of The Drama, London: Methuen

Blau, H. (1990) The Audience. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.

Brecht, B. (1965) The Messingkauf Dialogues. Methuen Co & Ltd

Carlson, M. (2001) The Haunted Stage. United States of America: The University of Michigan Press.

Handke, P, Roloff, M, & Kuhn, T (1997) Plays: 1 : Offending The Audience, Self-Accusation, Kaspar, My Foot My Tutor, The Ride Across Lake Constance, They Are Dying Out. London: Methuen Drama.

Leach, R. (2008) Theatre Studies: The Basics. London: Routledge.

Macmillan, D 2011, Lungs, London: Oberon Books Ltd

Rayner, A. (2006) Ghosts. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Rebellato, D. (2009) ‘When We Talk of Horses: Or, what do we see when we see a play?’. Performance Research, 14 (1) 14-26.

Roach, J. (1996) Cities of the Dead. New York: Colombia University Press

Shakespeare, W, & Jenkins, H, (1996) Hamlet, Nelson

Essay Devlopment

Contemporary Historical Contexts


Pitch a short (3-5 minute presentation) in which you must propose a performance idea which foregrounds the act of ‘ghosting’.

Using the information outlined in Carlson’s piece. I have deducted the factor of the haunted body of the actor to be not only of high significance to the premise of ‘ghosting’ but is of interest to almost anyone who becomes a spectator to theatre or indeed any performance.

I therefore would be inclined to propose a postmodern performance with the use of well-known, current British actors from a range of performance disciplines to create a piece of theatre which negates the stereotype their ‘ghosting’ from the audience would deduce. I would hide the faces and change the voices, remove names from the programme and marketing material to better test this theory and allow an audience to decide upon the text and actors, removing the option to base this current interaction on previous experiences with the actors. This performance would also include a range of other material, recycled from other structures and previous characteristics and textual sources from the actors previous roles.

The basic structure of the performance would interweave the premise of a dream. Many elements would become fragmented and visceral. The narrative or thrust of narrative would be loosely based around the story and concept of Noah and the Arc, in very broad terms. I picked this as a well known narrative in Western culture, especially in the UK. And when I receive arts council funding to internationally tour the world, I would adjust the religious and social construct to better suit and adapt to the political and social climate of the generic spectator of that region.

Committing the spectator to a story with which they have had previous experiences with will set up the audience for their own expectations of role fulfillment and story structure etc. Actors would be given role which further removes themselves from their ‘ghosted’ stereotype to better highlight the gap between the assumption of an original performance, and the experience of realisation and the very current, very real ‘ghosting’ which happens during the performance, when the actors are revealed as the well known actor they are.

I would be very interested to see how this shift from new experience to previous fulfillment affects the performance and experience for the spectator.

The Duchess of Malfi

Andrew Marr’s commentary framing the context of the performance at the beginning of the performance. How does what he say and show frame the premise of the performance. Religion as a dark force within the play. How what Andrew Marr said colors the performance and the story. A perceived need to explain to the audience and almost apologize for the language and barrier between the two time periods.

All performances are historical events. All set in the past. Consigned to a period of time. Something ephemeral. Theatre is always vanishing. It is constrained by time. Theatre differs from a painting, a constant. Performance constantly disappears and changes. Theatrical performances are constrained by time. We are attempting to distill and make theatre live again through recording live material. Matthew Reason, Archive and Theatre…Look it up. Difficulties and rewards of recording live theatre. ‘Live Casting’ Martin Barker, Live Casting. Two books worth looking up on live casting. Is there a perceived sanctity of being in a theatre, in the same space?

Trailers also colour our choices of live performances. Looking into how we frame the theatrical event. Possible essay brief?? Treating the theatrical event as a film event. Use cross medium interdisciplinary context to sell theatrical devises.

Historiography – Why do we do it? Safe way of documenting historical events. The age of the original seems less and less likely to exist, is it necessary?

We talked on the concept of truth. What is truth? Why is truth and understanding of the text so important? Does it make a difference? Why? All performances are historical events no performances are in a vacuum. All are set in context. Theatre and the experience we have of it is shaped by our social, historical, political context. Foccoault: Taught language as infants. We are limited and liberated by it. History is forged by discourse. We have no control over it. Racceur feels the opposite.

The great hole of history. Shakespeare’s globe is a simulation like Disneyland.

Historical context from Andy Marr, trailers equates to the historiographical context to allow the audience to feel the location in time and place that the play is set? Watch the commentary from Marr to get a start.

Reflection & Essay

Post workshop I went to the library and took out two books related to the concept of Ghosting, or the haunting of theatre: Marvin Carlson’s The Haunted Stage and Alice Rayner’s Ghosts. I’m more interested in exploring the concept of the haunted body of the actor. Its effect and predetermined impact it has on a spectator and how, subconsciously sometimes, this can impact on the reading of a performance or narrative. This is rather ‘bare bones’ at the moment, but the scope for research seems relatively niche but still interesting and underdeveloped. I’m possibly discussing this as a starting point for a essay…

Upon opening the book, there is a chapter dedicated to the haunted body within Carlson’s The Haunted Stage p52 as well as an interesting chapter 6 on postmodern recycling which seems like an interesting concept to develop into its inter medial impact on the actor. Alice Rayner’s book is more akin to the physical embodiment and use of ghosts on stage as opposed to using the term as a concept to the haunted nature of performance and theatre and so this book has little use for my current train of thought. (N.B. After deeper reading later in the module, I recant this statement as Rayner proved invaluable on other ghosting elements)

Upon reading the first few pages of Carlson’s chapter on the haunted body, I started to feel the ability to elaborate on what he was stating. Possibly under the context of a playwright or play(s) as case study, I could hone in this large topic to a particular example, its effect and outcome.

Playing with the essay title of:

“Lungs haunt our past transgressions and act as a social, economical and environmental ‘black box’ to life. How does the haunted body affect a spectator when posed with a multiplicity of previous experiences from a performer?”

I would also use The Human Ear by Alexandra Wood and Lungs by Duncan Macmillan as there was a shared space, time and performers, a theoretical ‘clean room’. I will also touch on Macmillan’s Every Brilliant Thing due to the creative colouring from the performer in the creative process.

If this is a path I choose to go down, I would have to first define a few terms:

  • ‘Haunted Body’ – Whose body? Is this primarily the actors or could/should it include the haunted body of the spectator as well? Would that fit into the theory or is that an unnecessary stretch…
  • ‘Multiplicity of previous experiences’ – What defines the experience? Time constraint? is there a minimum number of experiences before ‘ghosting’ can commit? How vivid must the experience be? Must it be positive or could it be negative?
  • ‘Affect’ in a positive or negative? Does it matter as long as the experience takes place? This may depend on the route I chose to take with my argument.
  • Through looking at the spectator I would like to touch on the haunted nature of genre and the space of the theatre. We are ghosted by opinions as well as our own experiences. How did the Roundabout/Riverhead theatre space give way to this?

I would like to pose an argument within the structure of the essay to allow for a more formal and linear process:

  • The ghosting experience is a negative and derives a poor final experience for the spectator, marred by previous performances.
  • The ghosting is a positive experience, it allows for a more layered and detailed relationship between actor and spectator which can only serve to better connect audience to actor. This also generates a more personal experience for each individual as they bring their personal previous experiences to the performance.

I’ll most likely sit on this for a few days to tweak wording or syntax of the essay question before posting it to Daniel on Monday.


Contemporary Historical Contexts

The Enigma of Dramaturgy/ing

Pre-Module Research and Musings

This was asked to be researched on the lead up to the first session as the class will primarily discuss the role and reason for a Dramaturg, simply put, ‘What is Dramaturgy?’ and ‘Have you ever done any dramaturgy before and how?’

This was paired with a play that has made the biggest impact on you.

Reflections of the role of a Dramaturg or what Dramaturgy means to me.

From a very quick and early standpoint, the role of dramaturg seems very similar to that of a collaborator. The difference seems to lie in eloquence and academic panache.

Bozic speaks of a generator and a ‘red line’ which runs through the work. This seems very akin to the devised procedure of storytelling in theatre, with a stimulus acting as a springboard of ideas and concepts, to the ‘through line’ which holds the story together whilst simultaneously moving the it on.

Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder

The second point Bozic makes on the dramaturg references their use in engaging multiple sources across numerous mediums to create a melting pot of creativity with a means to use this product within the installation or performance in mind. Again, this just seems like academic posturing, generating a educational void between the collaborative relationships already in place between writers, performers, collaborators, directors, producers, stage managers and the audience. This can be seen in the merging of producer and creative collaborator in Nick Sweeting, working with Improbable Theatre.

Bozic feels like she is complicating a relatively simplistic approach to imagining devised performative aspects of theatre or installations in a way which not only complicates this process but undermines the creative rank of other predestined roles within devising a performance.

Her third point on the role of a dramaturg started to bug me on a simply grammatical standpoint. So I looked away from this article and started reading from Cathy Turner and Synne K. Behrndt’s Dramaturgy and Performance which, eloquently in its opening statement states “In many respects, this is an impossible book to write.” (p1, 2008) Bold words, considering the impressive 228 pages that follows. Within this introduction, they introduce us to dramaturg as a verb, how perplexing. So this is a substance within a play or performance, a role and now a doing word.

Sigur 3 – Sigur Ros

Also mentioned is the reasoning for the UK rise of the dramaturg as this has been a widely used concept, role and verb in mainland europe for quite some time. This makes sense, buoying the creative portion of new writing to help dwindling numbers in the 1990’s. But with new writing very much alive a quarter of a century later, is the role not only falling out of context but out of need? The drop of new writing was primarily a by-product of cuts made by the Thatcher led Tory government. Could we see a resurgence in the need for the dramaturg with deep cuts affecting the arts yet again?

Turner and Behrndt go on to discuss the complicated approach to the rise that came about with the role of the dramaturg. With Kushner’s Angels in America and Mamet’s Oleanna leading the way in the US: Churchill and Hare producing fine work in the UK. This was seen as a result more of the writer in terms of their talent, subject matter and self-help provided more than that of the emergence of the dramaturg.


I have moved on to the first chapter and read a rather frustratingly, unnecessary, almost politican-esque approach to the question ‘What is a dramaturg’ in Kerkhoven’s Theaterschrift:

“It appeared … that dramaturgy involves everything, is to be found in everything, and is hard to pin down. Is it only possible to think of dramaturgy in terms of spoken theatre, or is there a dramaturgy for movement, sound, light and so on, as well? Is dramaturgy the thing that connects all the various elements of a play together?” (p8, 1994)

We live in a world where subsidised theatre reigns. Where shoe-string productions tour the country.I understand the need to blend roles in order to cut production costs. I more than understand, I realise its necessity in regards to keeping regional theatre afloat. So why would another role need to exist which kind of does some of the elements of a number of roles but is not involved in the physical creation of the performance, play or installation. It seems to a layman to the ‘role’, as I would consider myself, a surplus position, designed to fulfil the succinct creative nuance of a collaborator who keenly wishes to finger all the pies (if dramaturg is to be neologized, I will  do so with finger) without shouldering the burden necessary for the genesis of creative work.  In answer to your previous question, Kerkhoven, “Is dramaturgy the thing that connects all the various elements of a play together?” the word you seem to be searching for seems to be that of the director or producer.

I believe I have ‘dramaturged’ out of an economic necessity, not an ideological or academic one.


Play(s) With Impact

This included with a play that has affected me the most. I will most likely be using Weepie by Chris Goode from a performance standpoint and Angels in America by Tony Kushner for the play that has affected me from a writer/storytelling standpoint.

Chris Goode’s unpublished Weepie, as a performer opened up avenues that I had not been privvy to up until this point. Depth of character understanding, the storytelling role of the actor and the physical, emotional and mental connections an actor can make with a character and it’s reflective qualities.

Angels in America in terms of the size of performance can take.

Lungs, simplicity but density of text.

Works Cited

Turner,Cathy and Behrndt, Synne K, Dramaturgy and Performance, 2008

Kerkhoven, Marianne van, Theaterschrift, 1994, Brussels: Kaaitheater

The Enigma of Dramaturgy/ing