An English Rose

WTC#3 Rose English @Camden Arts Centre

A Premonition of the Act

the angels – new ones each momentin innumerable bands – are created so that after they have sung their hymn before God, they cease and dissolve into nought…

  • Walter Benjamin

we’re lost in music

caught in a trap

there’s no turning back

we’re lost in music

  • Sister Sledge

A Premonition of the Act reveals elements of a performance in a deconstructed way.

Through the facets of the exhibition – her collection of found images, her notes on a storyboard, her libretto for a sound work… we see Rose English thinking and feeling her way towards an as yet unrealised final piece that she has already been developing for a decade.

Today you are invited to begin to explore designing the facets towards your own extravaganza. It will be disjointed, unfinished, a work in progress, but let’s try it.

On the storyboards, you will see pairs of words: ‘ornamental happiness’; delicate persuasion’; ‘prismatic thinking’ for example.

– Collect your own pairings of adjective/abstract nouns that somehow reflect your current preoccupations (you might find this easier after spending time listening to the sound installation).

– Under each pairing, free associate.

– Think of objects that feature in your world – domestic, practical, fragile, sentimental.

Now, select three of the words below –

movement – interaction – composition – object- perform -poise – sequence – audience – sound – activate- body- parameters – prop- tension- risk- activate- situation- balance – installation – distance – collaboration -movement

  • Consider how to combine the objects and the words in your own performance:
  • How would performers interact with the objects?
  • How would construction of the objects reflect the pairs of words you gathered?
  • Create your own libretto
  • Think of the three screens – how can your writing play with three-parts?
  • Think about objects again – this time, what would you like to offer as gifts your audience – or to sell in a gift shop to fund the performance?

WTC Rose English @ Camden Arts Centre Premonition of the Act 1.3.16

Domestic – I like to see out of clean windows they bring the outside in. Fragile – Be careful washing the wine glasses Iʼm always breaking them. Sentimental – I love when the family visit especially now my fifth grand daughter is a month old we had a glass or three when she arrived.

The 3 words I chose were – Poise/Balance/Movement.

(Weʼre in a gym in North London Muswell Hill Area)
A young gymnast Sylvia in sleek,shiny,silver leotard stands, a slender silhouette against the sunlight streaming through the huge studio window. Then she distributes long,plastic,multicolored lengths of ribbons amongst the assembled audience.

“Now here goes – take a breath – inhale – aaaaaaaaaa b-r-e-a-t-h-e ……. ………now for some acrobatics forget your arthritics …….. find your inner equalibriuuuuuum” —- she almost sings!

Sister Sledge – We Are Family – “weʼre lost in music” blasts out deafeningly on loudspeakers across the large glass-fronted studio space where our motley crew of pensioners share shortness of breath; general tiredness; chest wheeziness; skin blotches; aches & pains & mild flatulence but are still “Up for It!” – though,now,not too sure what theyʼve let themselves in for………

Three screens on the back wall show videos of young Chinese gymnasts with their lithe,supple bodies throwing,catching each other & holding spin- ning plates & balancing ornate glasses arranged on trays like chandeliers on their heads & hands while moving extremely slowly.

They are using their physical & mental strength to control & display their skill & prowess in time & space using their own young,fit bodies which is breathtaking to watch & for the captured Third/Agers/Silver/Surfers a dis- tant dream!

Installation — movement — image — audience — interaction–collaboration —sound — performance — film — video — theatre — action — silence — tension —risk — dance — sing — play — write — stillness — balance — stress — symmetry — memory—–dark— light– energy — tiredness—- thought — action — excess — absence —- work –rest.

Phyllis Lane

First Act

A group of acrobats unexpectedly arrive. There is high humming. A Puccini chorus. Madame Butterfly appears from the floor followed by distant tinkling. Crizzles and cries. A glass breaks and, in a split second, a young boy’s voice slides from soprano to baritone. An arc of sound, fragile balance undone.

In another room unfinished symphony plays, signaling favourable news. The music stops abruptly. A gong sounds. The room is flooded by light.

A man walks in singing.

here comes the sun

here comes the sun

I’m alright…”

He walks away. A couple meld in a liquid embrace. In the corner, sparks from the furnace heat their passion. Her back arches, and her glass dress falls and twists to filigree. Soon she is dispersed into transparency and melts away. Ornamental happiness.

Doors open to a third room. Operatic reflections. Again we hear the sound of gongs. A woman is waiting, she is distressed. She’s the victim of a lightening strike.

The man in the room was in a downward trajectory. But now, he experiences “coup de foudre.” He has fallen in love. The man is poised to break the fragile barriers between his life and hers. Delicate precision will be needed.

Through a bright window we see a dystopian view unfolding. Urban destruction. Buildings crumble. Some chords of Shostakovich cause the fragile glasses to shatter into a million splinters on the tray.

A screen opens. Amber droplets of heat form glowing pear shapes. Beyond it, we see a central table filled with objects. A Chinese Victorian bead necklace. A row of glass vases. A heap of lemon squeezers. Brass bowls are struck creating a low eerie sound. Blue and white plates are tapped on by one hundred hundred fingers.

A troupe of waiters perform acrobatics. The troupe stand feet to shoulders in a giant pyramid. Trees appear laden with ripe lemons. Quickly juiced, their contents are poured into tiny glasses and balanced on the acrobats’ heads.

Glass bells sound. An image of perfect poise, – a premonition of the act.

Astrid Sutton Sharkey