On the development of our performance

Our original concept was an immersion-based experience in the room off the Cosker suite, utilising the unique layout of the room to create a more believable environment. Our piece was centred on immersing the audience in this war-time environment and introducing them to three VC winning soldiers who had ties to Lincoln and the Drill Hall.  The design for the room was set to be a trench, of sorts, with a table and lamp to the back of the room to draw the audience in to the trench.  Posters and newspaper articles from the war era were going to be hung around the room to deliver information and context to the audience members.

Owing to shortcomings in our idea to re-create a trench we have pursued a different type of performance in the hope of better utilising the space available to us. We have chosen to develop a performance based on lost and found items, memories and emotions.  We have decided these performances shall be one to one, so our group of three will have the same room, with the same overall contents, but will base their performance around the items that suit their performance. Owing to the Drill Hall’s past as a concert venue a potential avenue I am looking to explore would be to include music in my one to one performances, playing songs that were once played live on an old guitar to bring the history of the Drill Hall to life.

The new performance model unfortunately didn’t allow us to extrapolate much relevant research information from our previous idea owing to the fact that it was mainly Military based research on a few individuals, however the names and stories of these people are still relevant to the history of the Drill Hall, and as such could potentially have left an object that could tie in to our performance.

Although our piece has changed drastically I do not personally feel that we have taken any steps backwards, we already have ideas for room design, stories to incorporate, and how we intend to present our performance overall.



Our original idea for our piece, which we had titled Heroism was a based performance designed to dismiss the members of the audience from the balcony room and escort them to a World War I trench. The idea was inspired by the two memorial stones laid on the forecourt of The Drill Hall and we wanted to recreate an authentic scenario based on these heroes. In order to gain further research, we went to The Archives which led to us realizing there was a toffee endorsement by one of the soldiers (James Upton). “Macintosh’s Toffee De Luxe to the Troops and the great sailors. It gives them great pleasure, it helps them to forget danger, it passes away many a tedious hour, it sustains their stamina” (The Lincolnshire Chronicle, 1915) this inspired us to include this into our performance as it was an interesting and distinctive link to the site itself.


Toffee Poster
Toffee Poster


History Of Our Piece

During World War I (1914-1918), there were two soldiers named Leonard Keyworth and James Upton. After the assault on the German position by the 24th Battalion, efforts were made by that Unit to follow up their success by a bomb attack, during the progress of which 58 men out of a total 75 became casualties. During this very fierce encounter, Keyworth stood fully exposed for 2 hours on the top of the enemy’s parapet and threw about 150 bombs amongst the Germans, who were only a few yards away. (London Gazette, 2 July 1915).

On the 9th May 1915 at Rouges Bancs, France, Corporal Upton rescued the wounded while exposed to rifle and artillery fire, going close to the enemy’s parapet. One wounded man was killed by a shell while the corporal was carrying him. When not actually carrying the wounded he was engaged in dressing and bandaging the serious cases in front of our parapet. (Wikipedia, 2016).



Changing Our Idea

This idea spawned debate within the group and we decided to pursue an idea where the three of us lead 1 to 1 performances with audience members based on telling the stories of lost items from what was found in the balcony room.

An idea that stemmed from this was the potential use of the toffee as one of the items related to The Drill Hall, and that our research into the soldiers would not be lost as a result of this drastic change in style of performance. Expanding on that idea was a suggestion from Michael that music could be a part of the performance, a ‘lost’ instrument could be used to play one of the songs that were played at the drill Hall during the venues time as a music-based venue.

Expanding on that idea was a suggestion from Michael that music could be a part of the performance, a ‘lost’ instrument could be used to play one of the songs that were played at The Drill Hall during the venues time as a music-based venue. We all suggested putting our talents into the Performance such as Jaimie playing a guitar and myself singing.

Our piece is now moving more towards being a more intimate and personal performance, designed to use the natural ambience of the room to give our piece a surreal atmosphere.


History of our piece

The history of our piece

In the 1850’s there was a famous factory called the Ruston’s factory which you will now know as semen’s, this organisation was ran by an industrial manufacture called Joseph Ruston. The company was known for manufacturing narrow and standard gauge, locomotives and steam shovels. They became Ruston practor and company in 1857 when Joseph Ruston joined them. From 1866 they build a number of six coupled tank locomotives one of which was sent to the Paris exhibition in 1867.

Whilst the Ruston’s factory was making profit in 1859 Joseph Ruston had the idea of building the drill hall. The drill hall took 31 years to build and was not completed until 1890. £10.000 was spent in these years making sure that it was accessible to the general public.

The factory workers at the Ruston’s factory wanted a pay rise whilst the Drill Hall was being built but Ruston refused this by stating “Don’t deprive me of my bread and cheese.” From then on the Drill hall to the workers was none as the bread and cheese hall and it was a mockery to them.

During the First World War, Ruston assisted in war effort, producing some of the very first tanks and a number of aircraft. The drill Hall was also a war unit where solders were trained for battle around 4000 men attended this unit and out of that 4000 423 died.

Using the history that we have found out about the drill hall me and my group came up with an idea. Knowing that the drill hall was a mockery to the Ruston factory workers back in the 1800’s, stating it the ‘bread and cheese hall’, we though that creating a version of the drill hall out of bread and cheese would be an interesting concept. We will also take into account the soldiers that attended the drill hall in World war 1 and how many died who attended this unit, making sure that the resources we do use have a meaning behind them. Throughout 0ur process we will be finding ways to link our use of bread with the soldiers.


Our influences 

Site Specific performance focuses primarily on place and the history behind that place but there are many fragments to Site Specific performance. Mike Pearson in his article displays that “Performance and archaeology favour body, object, place, activity and context” (Pearson, 2001). With our piece we want to create theatre that uses senses, objects and the body, using these will help us with our narrative.

My group and I from the beginning were interested in using senses. Janet Cardiff’s piece ‘The forty part motet’ creates a sound scape using speakers. Forty Separately recorded voices are played back through forty speakers strategically placed throughout the space. The sounds that the audience can here are from a 40-part choral performance of English composer Thomas Tallis’s 16th century composition sung by the salisbury cathedral choir. As you can see in the picture bellow this would create an emotional evocative sound sculpture that would feel intimate even with in a public space. These emotions are felt through the senses of hearing, we thought we could use some of Janet’s ideas of senses in our piece.

We were also influenced by bobby baker with her use of natural resources in her piece ‘Mad gyms and kitchens’. This piece is bobby demonstrating how she achieves the ultimate ‘well being factor’. Throughout the piece Bobby will use vegetables and different types of foods and throw them at walls letting all of her anger out. From reading up on this it was interesting to see how you can use food in different ways. The smells that you get with using food can enhance a piece by picking up on the audiences senses, by doing this the audience can feel certain emotions for the piece by relating the memories they have with the food to the piece of theatre. Lyne Gardner from the Guardian states ‘Like all of of Bakers work you leave feeling better than when you came in. Its not a show but a priceless gift wrapped in theatrical box of tricks’  (Guardian, 2004)

Our process to are final performance 

At the beginning of our process my group and I found a birds eye planned view of the drill hall. Are main aim was to build a three dimensional version of the drill hall but through practice with other resources such as paper and blocks we found this unsuccessful. Looking at the floor plan of the drill hall we came to a decision that not only would it be easier building it in this way but we could also use the bread in an interesting way. Using whole pieces would be difficult so my group and I experimented by using paper.

In the example bellow we cut up the paper into small rectangles, we created a miniature version of the drill hall. By getting up and creating it we found it easier to recognise what worked and what did not work. We knew that cutting the bread up had a positive effect on our piece and we realised that they represented bread soldiers that you would have with a dippy egg. Knowing that the Drill hall used to be a war unit for soldiers in world war 1 it seemed appropriate to incorporate this into our work.

4,000 men served at the Lincoln drill hall and out of the 4,000 who served 423 men died in battle from the Lincoln unit. Each bread solider that we use in our piece will represent one solider that served at the Drill Hall in the first world war. We worked out that in each loaf of bread you can create 70 bread soldiers. My group and I will have to source 57 loafs of bread which will hopefully create a planned view of the drill hall as large as the green room where we will be performing our piece, at the end when it is created we will place a layer of cheese onto each bread solider.






The Blue Room AKA H. Newsum & Sons Ltd. Steam SawMill.

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These are some pictures of my performance space. I wanted to peform my piece here as it is on the Broadgate side of the Drill Hall and that is where the H. Newsum & Sons Ltd. Steam SawMill used to exist. As you can see the space at the moment is being use as a storage cupboard, however, my plan is to transform it into a woodwork room that plays on 4 of 5 senses: Sight, Sound, Smell and Touch. There will be many elements to my piece, all of them linking into the idea of the once existing SawMill. For the sight, a projection of a steam sawmill and its process, the actual installation itself of sawdust on the floor, wooden panels and furniture filling the room and me completing my task of completly demolishing a wooden table by sawing it up. Sound will be a soundscape of 3 different accounts, one of behalf of the tree being made into wooden floor panels – giving a voice to the voiceless, one from Henry Newsum who was the owner of the SawMill and one of the employees at the SawMill. The Smell will be given from all the sawdust and wooden panels, giving the room that freshly sawn wood feeling. Lastly touch will be apparent as I cut of bits of the table I will hand them over to the audience who will be able feel it.

With all of this taken into account, I am hoping to give the audience a feel of the history of the site but more importantly the actual foundations of the site, before the Drill Hall was even thought of. I want them to leave my piece feeling in the know about something that they probably didn’t know about before. I also want them to feel involved in the actual performance, when I hand them the fragments of wood, I want them to take it away with them – they don’t have to of course – and feel that they had a sense of being a part of it.

Talking Birds: The Idea of History, The Use of Tech and Ghosts of the Past.

These were my presentation notes for Talking Birds. I tried focusing more into how they use the techniques I would like to use for my own creation.

Talking Birds


Composer and Co-Artistic Director Derek Nisbet, Designer and Co-Artistic Director Janet Vaughan, General Manager Philippa Cross.

Since 1992 Talking Birds has been producing thoughtful, playful, resonant, mischievous and transformative meditations on people and place. They call their work ‘Theatre of Place’ and is characterised by a distinctive blend of humour, music and visual flair in venues both conventional and unconventional across the UK and internationally.

Their work is made collaboratively, connecting people and place. They’re particularly interested in making work in places which the public don’t often get into, the sorts of places that they might stumble across by accident. Places which have interesting features, histories and former uses, perhaps layered with recollections and associations which are on the brink of slipping from living memory. Or places that are at the end of one use and not quite ready for the next.

“Our projects invite people to explore a particular place of interest in a mediated way; weaving together its stories – real and imagined – to make accessible this neglected or forgotten space and encourage people to examine it in a new light.” (Talking Birds)

Three doctors

Three Doctors was a performance as part of One Last Look to mark the closing of Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital (which was being relocated to the new University Hospital in Walsgrave). Talking Birds marked this significant moment for the city by guiding an audience of 12 at a time through the corridors and operating theatres that have held the stories of thousands of local people, accompanied by voices, music and the ghosts of doctors Arrowsmith, Bourne and Mellor, the hospital’s founders

Solid Blue

SOLID BLUE was courtroom drama done Talking Birds style, and made especially for Whitefriars, the atmospheric medieval monastery set amidst the flyovers of the Coventry ring road. It was inspired both by the ghosts of the building and by conversations with local crime historian John Russell, who revealed to us the grisly discovery in Coventry of criminals’ remains buried vertically, headfirst…


Made in, for and about the South Bay Underground Car Park in Scarborough in the depths of winter, Wanderlust told the story of a man who had been parked there indefinitely.

It explored the way that a site’s many incarnations and histories continue to build and sit on top of each other, in a sometimes less than peaceable co-existence. When they first visited the car park, someone mentioned Galaland, an arcade that the car park replaced in the 1960s. Digging in the local history archives revealed astonishing pictures of Moroccan-style arches, which seemed incongruously elaborate architecture for an amusement arcade until further investigation revealed the original life of the building – as Scarborough Aquarium, designed by maverick architect Eugenius Birch, best known for his seaside piers. Wanderlust allowed all three of these incarnations to take turns to surface.

“If you’ve use the underground car park in the last few years and wondered why there are small pulleys in the ceiling at one point, now you know – but don’t tell anyone we told you…” (Talking Birds)

This short 20 minute performance/live art installation intrigued and beguiled the audiences.

How they have influenced me

Use of history

I’m focusing on the history of the drill hall but before it was the drill hall and exposing that while exploring it further.

Use of tech

They use a lot of projections and sound and I’m going to be incorporating that into my piece, my piece I going to be based around the 4 of the 5 senses.


They also use people from the history of the place and make accounts for them and pre-record them or actually speak them live. This is a big part of my performance that will be incorporated also.