In March 1998 I went to Exmoor with my parents for my first ever play in the snow. So today was the day for a first play. The first day I had a kind of booked performance, a first time for me to try to vaguely string some of my creations together and to play. I was sue to be performing in the Tubestation café in Polzeath at 3pm, so I set off at first light from Port Isaac, with some loose ideas of what I might try when I got there. The challenge I was faced with was how to perform in a café environment, where nobody had actually come to see me, people would be leaving and arriving all the time, and there would be lots of young excited children around! As I am working in quite a fragmented way, with my mini performances not really relating to each other, they therefore lend themselves to a fragmented performance anyway, I just needed to come up with some sort of framing to sew them all together. I had a bit of a panic moment when I was walking as I realised how silly it would be to suddenly turn my performance into a static happenings locked to one space, when my whole project is about walking, and most of my idea formed when I was walking between locations; I decided it was essential to somehow include this in the structure of the performance. I decided that in order to suit the nature of a café environment, I would leave the café in between each mini performance and go for a walk. The walk would be a relative amount of time to the distance between the locations that my creations had been made in. These walks between performances had several practical advantages as well as artistic meaning: 1) It would give me a chance to decide what I would perform next and how I would perform it. 2) It would give me a chance to assess how the previous performance had gone and effectively edit my style and adapt as I went along. 3) It would give me a chance to run away and leave the space if a performance didn’t go down well. After frantically calling several friends to hear their thoughts on the idea I decided to go for it. I knew it would be a complete experiment, and I knew it might weird people out, but it seemed like a perfect format for the environment.
I arrived a the Tubestation to find that it is this amazing café/church/surf club with a half pipe skate ramp inside the café!! With a very chilled out vibe and not very many people about I knew it would be perfect to really go for some crazy experimentation and try some stuff out. The performance overall went pretty much as I expected and lasted for about an hour, people were quite confused and wierded out, but on the whole found the whole thing quite fascinating I think. I got the sense that they hadn't seen anything like this before which was quite nice for me to be able to share something new with them. Some of the mini fragments went down really well with laughs and big applause, others kind of died on their arses which was GREAT. I’ve now got an idea of what people liked and didn’t and am really keen to develop my ideas based on what I’ve learned. So overall I can’t explain how useful this kind of early scratch performance has been to me.
The café manager Joff very kindly let me come back and sleep on his sofa. In the evening I ended up at a sort of leaving do for one of the people from the Tubestation which was a surreal experience. I met so many lovely people including Hayden and Rachel a couple from New Zealand who are living in Polzeath for the winter and working at the Tubestation, they told me so many great stories of their travels all over the world with plenty of hilarious stories mixed in, some of which I might tweek and share later in my journey. I also met Tom who is a National Trust ranger charged with looking after much of the coastline I have spent the last few days walking – which by the way was my favourite coastline so far. He told me some pretty scary stories about rock falls, parts of the path disappearing into the sea and dead dogs!
Anyway I am off to catch the ferry to Padstow now! I have a few videos from today and a video of my performance which I will upload soon (the internet connection here is awful!) See you soon world.