Monthly Archives: February 2011

Out of the studio and onto the page


1. Make Train sounds

2. Girl in the green coat: read through,  fragment, apply compositional exercises

3.Brief Encounters: read through, appropriate better bits. look at live action with film.

4. Physical: missing a train (to go with film), waving good-bye, station master (have a play)..actions with train sounds? (late edition)


1. Could be on a platform bench with 2 or 3 other people as a live choir of a train approaching and passing

Could build slowly, quietly from  a seat in the carriage

Could be done with actions – is quite a physical thing to watch anyway.

2. re written to include more of the text not previously written from the viewpoint of observing myself  – I could do this with lots of the texts.

Could re-write it so that:
“I get on at York” –  ( same as actions of doing it)
“I watch a girl get on at York”
“You/We watch a girl get on at York”

Feels like there is the full version and also reworked sections taking the main thread but reframed from viewpoints – is this the thing on which it all hangs? The refrain so to speak?

….this leads me to thinking about structure…if the show happened tomorrow it might look like this…

Brief Encounter
Make train
going home for the last time (I am)
Wave (train sounds reprieve)
Girl in the green coat/Blonde Guy/Wham look-alike (I watch)
Wave (brief encounters – film & live)
You watch Girl in green coat (actions with reworked texts)
Wave (Train Master – whistle & something interesting historically)
Hospitality trolley (train knowledges served with a kitkat and crap coffee)
Wave (Green Coat wordplay? missing the train?)
Your stories – facilitate into final stop which is being on the train together.

3.Brief Encounter – lots of actions, narrated by Laura, so simple scenes take on more meaning, they also observe others in the station. This is what I’m aiming for/talking about – how can I use the film to help me mimic, echo, reference, use it, etc?

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Off the page and into the Studio

I have almost 6000 words worth of observations, I think I have too much stuff…. at least for the time being.

Showtime is 5 weeks away and I think I need to do a big edit and focus on one or two principle ideas and work them using different structures to get more from them … I mean pick two or three things to develop properly as opposed to putting everything in but developing nothing.

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about process and blogging

doing this research, doing this blogging its like knowing there’s something out there in the fog and the more I search the clearer little patches become, eventually i will be able to pull them together. The patches are the observations and their meaning and how they might look in performance, they are seeing the connections and finding the bits that I want to show and tell people, that I want people to see and recognise and learn something new.

It is knowledge making, its as though I can see something but not recognise it and this process is trying to bring the parts together to understand and recognise something that wasn’t known before.

Blogging is much better than just a notebook, I can transfer things onto here, which in itself is an editing process but it also allows me to categorise and become clearer about what I’m seeing, what goes next to what, what is research, what is form, what is the thing, what it isn’t, what it could be.


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A life’s journey made briefly visible to those who are watching

a life’s journey

a train’s journey

we travel for a purpose, we don’t hang out on trains, we’re going somewhere or coming back which means that its part of life. Trains interrupt our life, they are a window into little loops, thoughts of a moment in time for each individual sharing the carriage.

so I watch people and in turn am watched. the reason for my journeys must also be in the work. I must not only tell stories of things I’ve seen but the stories you might have seen had you watched me. And on top of  that the timeless nature of the train.

So when you leave you’re aware that we all do this watching but also that we’re watched and that every person you sit with including yourself is on a life journey of some sort, to a job they love or to one they hate, returning to war or going to see their new born daughter, to visit friends or to take a trip with friends, to fall in love or to be leaving broken hearted.


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Beeching cuts hit York Model Railway

Today I went to see the York Model railway, I was quite excited, even Dara O’Briain’s been there, only to find out I was two weeks too late, its being moved to Lincolnshire, I think my favourite line from this article is:

“I live in Lincolnshire and I know this attraction will bring in many more cars down the A15. It can only be good for tourism.”

Drive! Drive! Its a model railway! I am tempted to get the train there.

Still on a positive note I have York Model Railway branded goods, who knows they might be worth something, and I bought a whistle (green with ‘york model railway’ written on the side) which I hope to get into the performance…. “all aboard”….etc and a fridge magnet – well it was that or a thimble.

Still a new Starbucks is just what the station needed

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How Many Excuses…?

Dew on the line!

Leaves on the line, the wrong type of snow, bendy tracks in the hot sun – how many excuses are there for delayed trains?

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Every Method

Ethnography (are all artists ethnographers of sorts?)

Testimony/Story Collection

Contextual research (see every context)

Writing and re-writing and re-writing until it’s right
Doing and re-doing and re-doing until its right
(‘right’ means imagining how it looks or sounds, what impression that is likely to give and if it meets the aim then its ‘right’. Sometimes it just ‘feels’ right, possibly through experience or tacit knowing)



Asking advice from experts

Taking a train/doing train related things

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Every Context

History of trains
Sounds of trains

Reasons for travelling
Travel writing
Leisure or Commute?
Outwards or Returning?

Social Situation of Trains
Silent body Acknowledgement conversations (shifting in your seat, responding to someone cross their legs in your peripheral vision, as they respond to you similarly)
Physical proximity to other travellers
Layout of carriages and systematic seat selling
Class and social standing of travellers
Frequency of ‘crisis’ situations: drunk football supporters, ‘hooligan’ teenagers, delays without communication, broken heating/cooling systems.

Sociology and Psychology – relating to how we ‘behave’ in given situations.
Philosophy – relating to concepts of ‘shared understanding’

Theatre – techniques, skills, styles
Presentation of research in performance
Direct use/manipulation of audience in theatre – audience theory, reception theory, breaking the 4th wall, etc
Who else is doing similar work in a similar style?
Storytelling, language and spoken word forms



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Every Question

why are some people more interesting than other people? what differences are noticeable to me? why is this? is it the same for everyone? if these are shared what is the implication of this in understanding self/identity?

What is a train carriage? what social conditions are particular to it? what happens here that can’t happen in other social situations? what doesn’t happen here that happens in other social spaces? why do we feel able to bare all on a train? strike up a conversation with a stranger? Play the bagpipes or give impromptu crochet lessons?

why do I travel on trains? how do I feel about trains? What things do we just know about using trains? what notable experiences have I had on trains? What journeys have a I been on where I’ve been the one displaying the noticeable difference? where have trains taken me to?

What is the difference between the out and return journeys? – there is one, what are the characteristics & are these shared?

Do social spaces online share similar qualities?

How do we tell stories? my stories, your stories, our stories, others stories? Why tell stories? Which stories are more useful in creating a feeling of shared understanding? what does shared understanding actually mean? why do we (if ‘we’ do, so at least I) want to create that feeling? what does that mean for identity/self?

How ingrained into British/western/generally speaking culture are trains? Why and in what ways are trains symbolic? Is the flying scotsman any more iconic than the intercity? why do heritage lines exist? why is train travel also not just a journey somewhere but the journey itself? how much is the story of trains in Britain intwined with the story of the last 200 years of British culture (from the collieries to the increasing number of European train staff) ?  Why do people obsess about trains – up to and including train-spotters?

What is ‘performance theatre’? How can a ‘performance process’ create a piece of ‘theatre’? where is the line between this HE practice and the tradition of theatre making? does it exist? or matter?
How can I use my knowledge of theatre and design to create experience? In what ways do I turn my audience into performers themselves (into the image)? How can I use my knowledge of the workshop performance and the intricacies of taking a group on a educative journey to take them on an experiential one?

How can I leave my audience feeling as though they have really been on a train journey – one they will remember next time (and maybe every time) they  get on a train again?


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