My Sampled 2013

I was at Cambridge Junction last weekend for


Here are my thoughts:

A packed programme and it was impossible to see everything. What I saw:

A pitch for a project by Bill Aitchison where he researches the other tours available in a city and compiles a ‘Tour of All Tours’. An intriguing experiment. If Aitchison develops this I’ll be there.

‘I Wish I Was Lonely’, a meditation on the pros and cons of electronic communications by Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe. Would the world be better without mobile phones? Maybe… Despite the instruction to leave our phones on during the performance Walker and Thorpe succeeded in creating a rare thing in today’s world – a space of shared presence unbroken by electronic connection. It was poetic. It was intelligent. I liked it a lot.

It’s certainly true that the development of communications technology has altered the way we communicate. I think this is an issue that performance is well placed to address. How did we communicate before mobile phones? Perhaps historical playscripts hold some of the answers.. I always think of the Downton Abbey episode where the family and servants struggle to get the hang of the new-fangled telephone:

Louise Orwin works through some angst about online interaction in “Am I Pretty/Ugly?”

I think a walk-in-walk-out format works much better for Get in the Back of the Van’s brand of durational performance.

I had a bit of a break in the afternoon and missed some things I’d liked to have seen.

The evening was a series of finished works unleashed for the first time.

I found Greg McClaren’s Symphony for Audience and Performer a rather confusing experience.

Tim Spooner’s ‘Subliming Furiously’ was indeed a ‘story cast in the interior cavities of the mouth and respiratory system and released into the larger interior of the venue’. An earthy, subterranean journey atmospherically staged in J1, the Junction’s gig space. Strangely enough some of it made me want to dance.

After avoiding an unpleasantly fishy interlude we saw Jamila Johnson-Small and Alexandrina Hemsley’s ‘O’ in J2. Stretch black velvet trous, black wellies, rhythmic gyrations, heavy bass and a sense of healthy exhibitionism. Made me want to take my clothes off and dance.

I’m sorry I missed:

Made in China’s ‘Gym Party’ – maybe I can catch up with this at Pulse Festival.

‘A Young Person’s Guide to Musique Concrete’ – a tabletop performance for an audience of three by John Boursnell.

& Sleepwalk Collective’s ‘Karaoke’

Big thanks to Claire Summerfield for organising an eggcellent breakfast on Sunday

Tatty Del kicked off the second day’s performance with an exploration of their working relationship in terms of a ‘sub-dom’ director-performer dynamic.

Hunt and Darton say they’re looking at boredom. And the script two audience members are given to read does fall short of the level of entertainment we might expect. But for me there was also something touching about two characters having one of those inconsequential conversations about nothing, passing the time, shooting the breeze, relaxing in each other’s company. I didn’t stay for the repetition.

I missed Huck and Tom Bailey & Dan Ashworth’s ‘Tailored’

Forgive me if I choose not to go into great detail about some of the other acts on Sunday – I was tired and hungover and sleepwalked through some of the afternoon.

I can’t not mention Holly McNish’s “A British Tea Break” though – for me one of the highlights of the weekend. There’s a sparkling directness to her poetry that I enjoy immensely. A real treat to see this as a work in progress and I’m excited to see how it develops.

Freddie Opoku-Addaie’s “All Hands On” drew me in but lacked a resolution I felt.

Finishing off the weekend’s performance was Jonathan Priest’s “Knot Circus” combining verbal absurdism and circus rope work in a way I’ve never experienced before.

Overall a great weekend. An amazing diversity of stuff to see and be involved in. Sampled 2013. A crucible for experiment. A space of discovery. What can beat getting a bunch of artists together to enjoy, think about and be inspired by each others work?

Oh – I forgot. On Saturday I met Jamie Moakes who has set up a co operative company providing financial support for artists – He Said.


About hughchapmansblog

Poet and performance maker based in Cambridge and London

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