These items have all been tagged with the tag "Barbara Campbell".

Gaps and Fog

A beautiful combination of vagueness and super-concrete detail in Tony White's great new story at 1001 Nights Cast, Barbara Campbell's project which I wrote about already here with some thoughts about my own most recent contribution. In Tony's story Ahead in the Line men whose names you don't know are telling tales that the narrator can only half-remember as they wait in some kind of line for something that you don't really get to the bottom of but which you intuit is probably horrible.

 Ahead in the LineMost of the time you're filling in narrative blanks, running scenarios in your head about possible contexts/ relationships/contents. All the while you're addressed as if you were a visitor from far away, for whom common sayings or phrases need  gloss and explanation. Even the narrators voice might best be called enticingly unsteady; oscilating as it does between thick and thin, contemporary and slightly antique. But there's really more than enough in the constellation of details coming out of the fog, and the constant gaps  in information, for your brain to get to work with. 

"There was a funny story too – I can’t remember. Something about a woman and her daughter. I think the daughter was this guy’s niece. Who was telling the story. And this was when those wretches were going from door to door. And they had no respect at all."

This one reminded me, although it's very different, of M John Harrison's stories for the 1001 project, especially his first, from the prompt Cocking A Snook, in which the narrator seems to overflow with details about a situation, but on the other hand utterly neglects to give any kind of overview. He generalises a lot too, in description, which is beautifully disconcerting - "a man" arrives in his room in a "long house", "figures in authority" do certain things in the corridor just outside and a radio plays "the local music", where we can't possibly know what kind of music that means or what kind of authority these "figures" have over what. Very wonderful and funny and deadpan. Taken together its a picture that's totally in focus some places but murky and blurred in others. You're aware of vivid detail, but lack much solid framework to put it in. The world comes out of fog, or emerges through a constellation of points and shadows, or is discovered like a gift only half unwrapped, or an object wrapped hastily and inexpertly in rags - in some places you see precisely what's there, other places you can only make out forms, shapes and structures that must be guessed at.

"It was impossible to calculate how many rooms there were in the long house. This information was known only to the figures of authority who often squatted in a line along one side of the corridor eating a vegetarian meal."

Very funny. Also frightening.



Food, Irony, Dogs and Dust

A place to eat where the words ‘fresh food prepared on the premises’ seemed more like a warning than any kind of advertisment or inducement to consume. Indeed as a statement it only seemed to flag the need for more detailed enquiries, suggesting questions like – where exactly on the premises was the food allegedly prepared, by whom and when?


A very strong new story from M John Harrison here at 1001 Nites Cast from the great prompt "not a hint of irony".  Maybe it's my jetlag but this one seems more melancholic than the others Mike's done there. Perhaps it's all in the narrator's distance from events, and in his articulation of a world in which certain possibilities cannot or should not, or can no longer be explored.

 For no good reason (I think) the story brought to mind these lines which I'd cut and pasted from an online guide to Beijing, a few of years ago.

 After the destruction of all the capital's dogs in 1950, it was the turn of sparrows in 1956. A measure designed to preserve grain, its only effect was to lead to an increase in the insect population. To combat this, all the grass was pulled up, which in turn led to dust storms in the windy winter months.

I'm writing again for the 1001 project on Friday - I have the feeling its going to be a strange one since because of timezones I'm getting the prompt first thing in the morning and I have to have it written by noon.  


Murky Notes

1001 Nights - It Is Murky And OpaqueI just submitted my story for tonights 1001 Nights Cast. It will be broadcast live at 20.53 UK time at the site above - just less than four hours from the moment of my posting this. Later it will be added to the archive on the site where you can read it. I will add a link as soon as there is one (here it is!). The prompt for the story was "it is murky and opaque". Click on the tags below to find several other things that I've written here introducing the 1001 project and discussing other contributions.

Meanwhile Lyn Gardner at The Guardian has something on her blog here discussing the publication Programme Notes which she, I and a whole load of other contemporary performance people have contributed to. The book is available from the Live Art Development Agency here and consists of writings, case studies and so on exploring the relationship between mainstream theatre venues here in the UK and more experimental practise. Its a fraught topic, and one which can induce feelings of despair (!) but the hope is that things in the UK are slowly shifting towards a more challenging, open and inclusive definition of what theatre might be, especially in the larger spaces.

Let's hope, keep fingers crossed (and lobby), that further cuts to the Grants For the Arts scheme, or a negative result for the Arts Council in the Government's upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review don't make the environment for innovation even more precarious or hostile.


Small Pieces

New Tony White story at 1001 Night's Cast here, complete with the narrator cheerfully drawing attention to the total absurdity of his or her own selections of material. Once again (as I wrote about a little here) there's a very beautiful sense of letting disconnected things (stories and voices) sit together in a suspension, and then just leaving it all for the reader to figure out.

I just caught up with the fact that The Fall's Mark E. Smith made a collaboration with Mouse on Mars by name of Von Sudenfed. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention. One track here.

Also a review of Forced Entertainment's Dirty Work from back at Toynbee here.


Around & About

100 People

My video show One Hundred and Three People at Sketch in London opened this last weekend and runs until 6 November. See here for all the details. Image above is from the new work 100 People.

Meanwhile Hugo has work in this show at Hansard Gallery in Southampton. Live Art on Camera shows the work of photographers who've documented seminal performance art events from the 1950s to the present in Europe, the United States and Japan, including (amongst others) Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Dona Ann McAdams,  Stuart Brisley and Leslie Haslam, Hollis Frampton, Ana Mendieta, Peter Moore, Ohtsuji Kiyoji, Adrian Piper, Tony Ray-Jones and Carolee Schneeman. As part of Hugo's contribution you'll find two images from Forced Entertainment's And On The Thousandth Night... (they are previewed here on Hugo's site). The ongoing photography project he and I are doing together - Empty Stages - is also on view there at Hansard via DVD.

Tony White has a great new story at Barbarba Campbell's epic 1001 Nights Cast called Do you hear that? I'm doing another contribution to it myself this Friday 21st. Added to the usual writing-to-a-prompt-and-against-a-time-limit restrictions on this occasion comes the fact that I'm going to be at airports/on planes and trains en route between Brussels and Graz for most of the allotted writing-time. We'll see how that works.

Forced Entertainment's First Night is at Kaai Theatre in Brussels for one night only this Wednesday, 19th  at 20.30 as part of Kaai's 30th Birthday celebrations.  That Night Follows Day, my project with Victoria is back on the road again - in Graz from 21-23rd September, kicking off the Steirischer Herbst festival. Full tour list at the Victoria site linked above.


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