\ collaborations

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a crowded room

a crowded room

I have just left Cardiff, after finalising the structure and animation of an immersive performance environment for the new production by my old friends Earthfall – which they will be touring across this, their twenty-fifth anniversary year.

I have wanted to see Earthfall perform close up in and amongst a crowd of promenade spectators for a very long time. And my work with them this time has shaped a functional and freestanding projection-washed room, where the performers and a crowd of fifty audience members can hopefully all meet…

 

...from a crowded room 01

 

...from a crowded room 02

 

...from a crowded room 19

 

Photos: Mike Brookes

 

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speaking of art

speaking of art

balloons

 

Gathering with our colleagues from NIDO here in Madrid, we have now initiated the Hablando de arte (Speaking of Art) audio and radio project, after a year of periodic planning.

Drawing on William Furlong’s transcripts of interviews from the Audio Arts archive – we are inviting a selection of guest professionals, friends, and relations, to help us to re-voice translations of those transcripts in to Spanish, as an ongoing independent series of located audio recordings.

To open the series, we selected Furlong’s short conversation with Michael Craig-Martin in London in 1974 – discussing his piece The Oak Tree from the year before.

The words of Furlong, as will always be the case in these recordings, were kindly spoken by secondary school teacher Íñigo Estévez. And those of Craig-Martin, by social worker Paco Fuentes.

For the purposes of this series, those interviews originally taped within London will be voiced and re-recored at locations within the region of Sierra de Guadarrama. In this particular case, we occupied a relatively quiet shady corner of a community swimming pool in the small town of Collado Villalba…

 

balloons

 

Images: Mike Brookes

 

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the dyas sisters / the reading room

the dyas sisters / the reading room

Emptying my camera this morning, after returning from an intense and possibly overdue Quarantine gathering in Manchester, I first pulled out this short series of monochrome images.

Together for ten days, in a stripped bare main-stage auditorium, with a twelve metre projection screen, a collection of old chairs, a photocopier, and as many floodlights as I could get my hands on, we have been opening up elements of The Dyas Sisters project – a project initiated by tasking Grace and Veronica Dyas, sisters from Dublin, with the attempt to describe everything that they could remember happening within their lifetime.

In conclusion, we shaped a place and event to mark the end of that task and the publication of the resulting book – framing a meeting with its first public reading, within some of the other possibilities and elements that were also generated across the process…

 

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #1

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #2

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #3

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #4

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #5

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #6

The Dyas Sisters / The Reading Room : #7

 

Additional colour images are available in the archive [ here ]

 

Images: Mike Brookes

 

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confessions of a justified sinner

confessions of a justified sinner

After eighteen months of preparation Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner by Untitled Projects, co-produced by National Theatre of Scotland – my third collaboration with Stewart Laing – has now opened at Tramway in Glasgow, to a range of encouragingly personal and engaged reactions, and a series of 4 star reviews.

The work – taking the form of an archive, exhibition and performed lecture – explores James Hogg’s cult nineteenth century Scottish novel ‘The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner’, by archiving and reconstructing a possible adaptation of the text, staged as a series of experimental site-specific events across Scotland by unknown director Paul Bright over a four year period leading up to Glasgow’s City of Culture year in 1990.

Here are just a handful of snaps from the gallery opening:

 

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #1

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #2

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #3

Paul Bright's Confessions of a Justified Sinner : gallery view #4

 

Images: Paul Bright’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner : exhibition views – Mike Brookes.

 

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the salon revisited

the salon revisited

A few days in Glasgow, with Stewart Laing and Untitled Projects, where we had all gathered to reopen the doors of The Salon Project. Originally realised in Edinburgh almost eighteen months ago, the immersive impression of a 19th-century Parisian salon – hosting an audience entirely costumed in full period dress, within an evening of discussion and recital – has occupied the stage and auditorium of the Citizens theatre until this weekend.

In April, we will reconvene, and reconstruct, for a run of evenings in the Barbican for this year’s SPILL festival…

 

Salon guests #1

Salon guests #2

Salon guests #3

Salon guests #4

 

Images: salon guests, from photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan.

 

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a pool of water

a pool of water

My last day in Glasgow, of this visit, where I have been lighting the teaching pool room of a recently derelict WW1 period public bath house in the city’s south side – structuring the light within its tiled walls, using only the skylight openings and internal fixtures provided by its existing architecture. The pool hosts Lifeguard, an intimate devised work by Adrian Howells for the National Theatre of Scotland, made and located within the contested site of the Govanhill Baths, now in the hands of a voluntary trust of locals, who continue to work for its renovation and redevelopment. Our reinstatement of the teaching pool has – amongst other things – resulted in the pool being full of water, and publicly used, for the first time in eleven years…

 

Govanhill teaching pool

 

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b

b

Last year I was approached by the Swiss company Trickster-p, and asked to design a proposal for the second work within their ongoing trilogy of theatre installation pieces, structured as audio led journeys through theatrical environments – not a form that I have an affinity for, as they well knew – but that in itself made the conversation interesting.

My own intentions – coming very much from a desire to help enable the company’s poetic, while also looking for a literal physical intervention for the project – inevitably echoed those that endlessly circle my attempts to locate my own work, regardless of its form or context. I have always found it helpful to approach theatrical space as simply another location. Especially when being asked to build within someone else’s.

However immersive a journey through the interior of the work was hoped to be, it seemed very clear to me that a credible interior has to be contained – by both an architecture and an exterior. To say that only an actual container can really have an inside, is clearly as much a truism as a conceptual position – but in my experience, the task usually comes down to the act of choosing and reasserting something self-evident.

If my questions, at their simplest, were about how to context a theatrical journey within a pragmatic structure of undisguised elements – then my answer, in this case, was a directly placed collection of visibly freestanding temporary rooms…

 

b exterior #1

b exterior #2

 

The resulting work – called b – opened in Bellinzona, Switzerland, last month. Stills from a selection of the interiors can be found in the archive [ here ].

 

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lifeguard

lifeguard

A few short days in Glasgow, catching up with old friends and new – discussing Lifeguard, a new work with Adrian Howells and the National Theatre of Scotland, planned for this coming autumn. A work that hopes to locate itself within a recently derelict public baths in the city, requiring at least a partial restoration of one area of the site.

I have been asked to look at light. And am very happy to do just that. In a site that can only clarify my ideas as I work with it. And stood amongst the familiar functionality of its well used social space, the questions and puzzles raised by the architecture of this intimate place – echoing those running through much of my current work – are also usefully functional and familiar.

How to reveal and animate this place, temporarily rebalancing it for a new purpose, without denying either it or our intervention, and without turning it into somewhere else?

I am looking forward to finding a balance for those questions here, and other places, over the coming months.

 

pool tiles #1

 

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entitled

entitled

Tonight sees the final performance of this year’s tour of Entitled  – my eleventh collaboration with old friends and long-term colleagues Quarantine.

“…devised with three technicians (Greg Akehurst, Chris Whitwood and Lisa Mattocks), three dancers (John Killroy, Joanne Fong and Fiona Wright), and a writer (Sonia Hughes), Entitled takes the form of a theatrical ‘get-in’ and a ‘get-out’: the usually hidden choreography of transforming a theatre from an empty space into a stage for a show, and back again…”

This afternoon, while they will all have been making ready for this last night, I have been allowing myself to wander around the various fragments of the work’s process that still cover my desktop – and revisiting some of it’s questions. Which I look forward to exploring further.

Here are just a handful of Simon Banham’s shots from the tour’s opening – in Manchester, back in July:

 

entitled still #1

entitled still #2

entitled still #3

entitled still #4

 

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the salon project wardrobe

the salon project wardrobe

…a couple more shots from The Salon Project, Edinburgh, but this time from the other side of the salon walls – amongst audience members at the beginning of their evening, being dressed before entering – again, courtesy of photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan:

 

Salon wardrobe #1

Salon wardrobe #2

 

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the salon project

the salon project

I have just left Edinburgh, after opening The Salon Project – my second collaboration with Stewart Laing, and his company Untitled Projects.

We have built and structured somewhere, a specifically temporary place, that might context and sustain the immersive social gathering of seventy five fully costumed spectators and participants – each individually fitted from a vast wardrobe of period dress – across a three hour salon event of proposition, recital, discourse and conversation.

And, in this case, I built light.

 

Salon still #1

Salon still #2

Salon still #3

 

Images: Rose English with audience members and pianist Ed Cohen, captured by the project’s photographer Tommy Ga-Ken Wan, on the evening the salon first opened its doors.