Posts Tagged ‘trial performance’

What do you think?

As we are performing in the library and what we are doing is such a spectacle, we decided it was best to not test any more ideas in the actual space so that on the day it becomes a one off vision. However, we did still want to test standing on the chairs for a long period of time and practise sacrificing books.  So, we went to the library and got some unwanted books we could practise with.


Three Different Ways of Destroying Books. Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13

We had two audience members come and watch the performance. We wanted some people to see the movements we will be performing, and ensure they understood how we had got to where we have with our performance.  After one hour and forty five minutes, we got down from the chairs and stopped sacrificing the books in our individual ways i.e. scrubbing, pricking and dunking in water.  Visually, our audience seemed to be attracted to the performance as the destroying ways are contrasting when it comes to sound and sight.

Remains of the 'Pricking Method' Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13

Remains of the ‘Water Method’ Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13 Remains of the ‘Pricking Method’ Taken by Kirsty Jakins 26.4.13

The novel Fahrenheit 541 was mentioned in post performance discussion, which presents a future American society where all books are outlawed and firemen burn all houses that contain them. It relates back to this idea of book burning throughout history, which we have looked into over our process. Books such as Darwin’s Origin Of Species have been under ridicule due to religion, which is one of the elements we wanted to put across in our performance. Within Bradbury’s novel ‘books are no longer symbols of technological process –of power and knowledge- but rather of wisdom’1. This gap between religion and fact has been occurring for hundreds of years throughout history and by wearing religion and destroying knowledge we arebringing that to attention.

The novel also mentions this ‘pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed’2 to destroy words, to destroy someone else’s ideas gives this weird pleasure, because you know once it’s destroyed it cannot be put back together. The hardest part of the performance will  be destroying and ripping apart Emile Male’s texts, purely because they are a hundred years old and part of our history. They are extremely hard to get hold of now, especially the copies we have. I guess though that will give our performance the shock value, and really get people thinking about why we are wearing the text.

  1. Bradbury, R. (2004) Fahrenheit 451. (eds.) 5th edition Voyager: London. p62 []
  2. Bradbury, R. Bloom, H. (2006) Fahrenheit 451: Bloom’s Guides. Chelsea House: Pennsylvania. p11 []
Posted: April 30th, 2013
Categories: Les dames des livres
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Time For A Trial Run

027‘Both performance and archaeology work with fragment and with trace. Performance and social practise, and their subsequent documentation or representation, through surviving traces and fragments, constitute heterogeneous  assemblages’1  

Dunking A Page In Water, Taken By: Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13

After putting together some initial ideas, we decided it was time to perform a test run and see what works best when it comes to provoking an audience response. We had already purchased some books to destroy in preparation. Two members of the group had also begun working on a new way to make the dresses which included buying skirts from charity shops, and attaching pages to the hem.

After the dresses were complete we started to test some of our ideas from previous research on sacrifice. The first idea was dipping pages into water and allowing it to subtly disintegrate over a long period of time.

(Becky Eating A Page, Taken by: Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13.)

Next, we tried to chew one of the books we had just purchased. This worked well at the start, however, after a while the taste of the old books became quite sickening and the pages were still readable. This led to us thinking up some other concepts. Having been working with safety pins to make the dresses, we decided to slowly pin prick a page and see what happened. The motion of pricking the page looked aesthetically pleasing and also destroyed the pages effectively.

We began to think about the fact the dresses we will be wearing are very feminine, and the idea of stereotypical woman’s work as ‘Some women did indeed work full-time for wages in a place outside their home such as a workshop, shop or factory, or on the land, while others worked full-time for wages in their own home cleaning and cooking’2 The concept of scrubbing came up, which is a motion that would have been used in home cleaning processes in the 1900’s and was something we all agreed would look effective.

While two of us were practising ways to destroy, the other two members began to experiment with the leftover book pages and started to add to our dresses. The expansion began with scattering a few pages to make a small train. After viewing a few pictures and hearing some feedback, we too realised it look extremely beautiful. In the end the expansion took over the aisles and meant people walking past had to take notice. Next the expansion took to the actual book aisles themselves. It looked like we were becoming at one with the aisles, or like we were a book emerging from them; however a broken book.


Emerging From The Aisle, Both Taken by Kirsty Jakins 21.3.13

To achieve this effect in the performance however, one member of the group will need to be forming the connections, rather than standing in a dress. Each performer in the dress will also still be destroying a book based on fact, whilst wearing the religion.The merging with the aisles could be seen to represent the expansion of religion within libraries. Once the entire book has been destroyed in one of our chosen methods, the performer will break free from the dress and walk away leaving the piles of destroyed books and pages behind them. Hopefully, the mess we create and leave will inspire the audience to think about the books we have destroyed and just left.

  1. Shanks, M. Pearson, M. (2001) Theatre Archaeology London: Routledge p55 []
  2. Roberts, E. (1988) Women’s Work 1840-1940 The Macmillan Press. p2 []
Posted: March 28th, 2013
Categories: Les dames des livres
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