Category Archives: theory stuff

Practice as Research related items, quotes, other people’s thinking, the bigger picture

Methods for Presentation writing

So far I have attempted the following methods for assisting the creation of this presentation:

Reading things other people have said – this means I have a set of statements I agree or disagree with and may or may not have evidence or arguments for holding these positions. Most of the things I agree with, will be congruent to the statements I already hold to be true.

Mind Map – What is it I want to say? A rough linear or parallel drawing showing the connections between ideas or tracing their epistemology.

A non critical, say everything without censorship essay (6 pages unfinished)

A beginning of the essay which would form the presentation (4 pages, unfinished – descended into questions and ideas to look at in more detail see above)

A Powerpoint presentation, it was hoped this more visual and ‘one thing at a time’ way of representing would help focus the narrative I need to create (14 pages, unfinished, mostly more unanswered questions)

A series of digital post it notes – hoped this would help ‘order’ ideas whilst allowing me somewhere to put them as they floated right to left sides of the brain…. worried that again they mostly have questions not answers and the range of topics and ideas is vast yet so interrelated I’m not sure which ones to cut at the expense of the others.

Plan going forward:

Being aware that there are two main ways of thinking occurring which need evidencing:

PaR thinking – eg how what I did is research. This is a sort of evidence based evidencing, eg I didn’t sit on a train making notes, I was engaged in a process of ehtnography

Creative Thinking – eg: I discovered that in writing this happened so I did this to see if it would help to improve the performance.

Also Performative moments aren’t written, so I’ve got to keep a section of my brain alert to ways of articulating that aren’t written and are better shown.

It feels like talking about what I did to make the work and talking about what I did using research languages, whilst also arguing for these ways of expression to support the work as research and the associated knowledges around knowledge in this context.

knowing this

I am going to write what I did that I think was of interest – including writing in ‘my’ style.


I’m going to find evidence of this in documentation


I’m going to translate some of it into PaR speak and talk about why I might do that


I’m going to try and find clever visual images that support the words


I’m going to edit & refine & rehearse.

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A Presentation on Performance as Research – should I also be blogging this process?

As I begin the endless wandering through one firing thought to the next in attempting to hone in on the key points I’d like to make about the assignment set, learning about PAR, creating a blog and attempting to frame and construct the work which became ‘Left Luggage’ in this context I am struck by the similarity of feeling about the ideas I want to communicate in academic presentation and performance.

They’re over there somewhere, I can hold a few of them for a second, I can feel their weight and begin to pick out their connections but I can’t articulate them yet. There’s a fear I’ll miss the point, I’ll forget something important, I’m scribbling triggers and questions down on scraps of paper like I scribble down images and sentences.

Should I be documenting this process too?

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Silence (or not doing anything as a research strategy)

after the last feedback session (where I chose to read and present the writing and images I already have without enacting the train as I was feeling trapped in this form and structure I’d developed)I felt pretty lost with the direction of the work and although blogging had proved a really valuable tool up to that point I had the feeling it was becoming the work itself and in reflection I think may’ve been affecting my process.

I was also feeling pretty wound up about about lots of other things and decided that sometimes when you’re lost in the middle of something you look so hard for something you’ve no chance of finding it because even if its there in front of you, it becomes impossible to see.

So I decided to do nothing… this was a decision to actively do nothing as a strategy that I know has worked before… waiting for a dream is also a good strategy as long as it happens in good time.

I decided to wait for it to come to me.

Of course I was doing things, I was never not thinking about it, everyday life events allow you to alter your perception, reframe and review what you’re thinking about.

Three things stuck in my mind from that feedback session:

1. That presenting the material in that way made it feel like a hearing for a train crash, as if I was presenting evidence at an enquiry.

2. Was this a good-bye to my last relationship?

3. That this structure might not do the job anyway, the job of trying make an audience feel, that my assumption that this type of configuration would be more likely to produce a certain response in an audience was just that, an assumption.

Things also playing on my mind that keep pestering me throughout this:

I remember crying on a train, I won’t write about it, but I keep thinking of it, what am I resisting?
and this; [personal]

[personal] is a direct result of working from the blog and not from my notebook, there are things missing from my process as I haven’t published them online as they directly relate to people in my life who I wouldn’t want to upset by publishing those shared moments explicitly online especially in relation to making work…. this is one major drawback of blog vs notebook – public process vs private process…. or perhaps a learning and a reminder that the ‘notebook’ is still superior as the original source of the material, where nothing is lost or edited.

Half way through my pretending to myself that I’m not doing anything, this idea came to me after a few red wines round a friends house on a Friday night, half – drunkenly scrawled in my general ideas and names of things to follow up and look into pocket-book that is always carried around (I guess the twitter equivalent of a blog in digital terms)

its the journey
its being 18 again

I miss you Ella
I miss you Sean
I miss you Tim
I miss you
I miss you
I miss you

Its all the goodbyes… and tomorrow I’m going on a new train to a new life….

it’s a post-mortem of  life’s train wrecks.

Staying with the ‘not doing anything approach I allowed the ideas to keep washing over me, not even taking time to note them all down, only the new connections… I was so anxious (and still am) that I’m in a sort of panic/’its all shit/I’m shit headspace that if I started to work without a plan, I’d over analyse, overwork, anything I tried to make.

I stayed with this right up until the next performative feedback moment all through the session, distracting myself by reading around the themes.
Before improvising a performance – which I was going to do from memory, from instinct, with no scripted writings or previously over-thought, structured and restructured, messed around with,  bits of material – my plan was to find out what this show is about?

Before performing I wrote these brief notes in my notebook to work from:

What I did – observing going places
What I’m doing now – telling you
What I’m really thinking about – why I went on these trips
(by which I meant Explain yourself, reveal the process in performance)

I miss you

I remember saying goodbye, walking in the square, come as you are.

Going home for the last time

Things I know about trains.

I performed a piece which went like this – sit on chair, talk about crochet ladies, say ‘but that’s not what this is really about’, get up and stand to the left of the chair, perform waving action, talk about old friends and what it felt like to walk through Nottingham Square in January, say ‘I could be 18 again’.

So it is becoming a tragedy, it is a remembrance, a memorial, a sadness and a testament to this feeling that I keep getting that I don’t want to be happy, I don’t want any new happy memories or close relationships with people because I can only just bear the weight and sadness of the memories I have now and how time passing changes who we are which often makes them all the sadder. I remember deciding early in my teens that I was going to base life decisions on the ‘stories to tell the grandchildren’ factor eg: should I skip school today? well yes, it’ll make a good story to tell the grandchildren. I have friends who lived and still live like that, I don’t know if they’ll ever grow old enough (metaphorically or literally) and I don’t believe they enjoy themselves anymore…. but when we were young we didn’t know, we loved and lived freely and I’m glad we did but the passing of time and innocence and naivety makes it feel like a loss.

Early on in this process I rewrote an entry in my notebook in a way that made it publishable online, it keeps going through my head like crying on the train does:

I asked if love still existed
Yes was the answer

But how? How can it be
surely you heart is bitter?

Yes, was still the answer

And yet I feel like the only person in the world.

Could it possibly be that I’m going to have to make another show about my fucking life, could it possibly be that at the moment of feeling all my material is coming to nothing I realise I haven’t put myself in it anywhere and then have a bit of an insight into what I really mean to be saying? Could it be that writing is killing my process and actually I need to go back to spoken word and sound-ed-out-lang-uage before scripting?
if so maybe I should start writing a fill in the blanks guide to how to make any future work….

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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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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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