What is ‘performance’?

Thursday 18th June 2015

When I’m talking about performance with students (or anyone who’ll listen to be honest!!) I think a lot of people have a very specific idea about what they imagine this ‘performance’ to be. Visions of sitting in old, dark theatres, raked seating with flip-up seats, actors on a stage, reciting some playwrights lines, (which you sometimes may not even fully understand) and then being invited to applaud their bows in a very British fashion, sedately, politely, restrainedly, at the end. This is, of course, one form of performance and may still have a place in the industry but I really feel we are doing ourselves a disservice if we limit our perceptions to just this. Performance can and should be so much more. Peter Brook, the celebrated theatre director, once wrote “I can take any space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged.” I love this idea. That anything, absolutely anything, consciously or unconsciously observed can be an act of theatre or performance. Since studying at uni I’ve become more and more interested in the concept of contemporary performance after being introduced to the works of performers such as Marina Abramovic, Stelarc and Vanessa Beecroft and groups such as Blast Theory and Forced Entertainment (Seriously, check them out!). Why do feel that we have to be sat in silence as passive observers? Shouldn’t we be challenged? Moved? Appalled? Included? Now I know that last one probably won’t go down well with the majority of theatre goers, certainly not British ones! We don’t like being involved, in fact for most audience members it takes all the courage they can muster simply to reply to a request for a response from a performer on stage. But for a piece to be fully immersive, responsive and significant, I think we need to leave our fear at the door, get in there and get involved. Be scared, be vulnerable, but be present and brave and most of all be affected because without that, the future of performance is sadly doomed to stay precisely where it is and I think that is a very ineffectual and impotent place to be.

Shiny new website!

Wednesday 17th June 2015

My first blog post on my shiny new website, exciting! It’s taken a little while to get it all together and go live, (not least because I change my mind so often, which doesn’t make it easy for my wonderful web developer boyfriend, sorry G!!!) but I’m so pleased with it and can’t thank him enough. (He’s an amazing developer, go check him out here). So, recently I’ve been helping out with a colleagues production, teaching, (had a student take Grade 7 Trinity Speech and Drama and pass with distinction and a mark of 97%!! Now onto Grade 8!) taking some students to the Lincoln Music and Drama Festival and the Wolfit Festival of Drama and Verse, which were both so much fun, and preparing for my Masters in Contemporary Performance Practice. Can’t wait to get started on that in September, it will be an amazing experience and hopefully something which will really help me progress artistically. Contemporary performers have always fascinated me and I’m really looking forward to exploring and developing my own creative process.

As this is the first post on my new site, I’d also like to say thank you to a few of the people who have helped make Lincoln School of Speech and Drama happen. Firstly, to my wonderfully patient and supportive boyfriend Graham, who has given up so much of his free time to build my site for me, my insanely quirky and totally bizarre friend Julie, who planted the seed and inspired this whole thing in the first place, my fantastically knowledgeable friend and colleague Sheila, who has shared so much of her wisdom and experience with me, and finally, of course, my amazing parents, Ann and David, who have supported me in so many ways and without whom I wouldn’t be doing any of this...in fact, I wouldn’t be doing anything at all! Anyway, I really hope you enjoy the new site and if you need my services, you know how to get hold of me. Thanks, Helen.

Theatre. Socks. Books. Badgers. Purple. Poetry. The Pre-Raphaelites. Cats. Pre-Raphaelite cats. Sneezing. Thomas Hardy is my historical lover.

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