Saturday, 21 February 2009

32. "The Wilderness" / Ue O Muite Aruko (002)

This morning Dad and I drove over to the woods to try and document "The Wilderness". On the way we played a CD of "Ue O Muite Aruko" ("I Look Up When I Walk"), by Kyu Sakamoto, and after Dad and I had come out of The Wilderness I took 24 exposures of 200ASA film of Dad walking, looking up, willing the planes above fly straight and true.

We only have a low-quality scanner here but I thought I'd do a rough one so you can get to see what he looked like. More on this soon.

Friday, 20 February 2009

31. Ue O Muite Aruko (001)

Not sure how to work this in, but yesterday birthed a new obsession, the very beautiful "Ue O Muite Aruko" ("I Look Up When I Walk"), Lyrics by Rokusuke Ei, Music by Hachidai Nakamura, Recorded & Performed by Kyu Sakamoto. You can see a video of it on YouTube or hear it on imeem. Read about it on Wikipedia.

This might make it into the show with Dad, but will more likely be part of a lecture on Mum's side of the family (see Post 28).

Monday, 16 February 2009

30. Kings of England BAC BURST Commission

Kings of England have been offered a small commission and a chance to perform at BURST, the Battersea Arts Centre's Annual Flagship platform for theatre / performance, live art and all that. We gladly accept. Our gigs will be on the 20th / 21st May, so diary it if you are London based or somewhere close by. Unfortunately Mum can't make it as she will be on a walking holiday, but Dad and I are excited. The bonus is that this time, it should be worth a week's wages, a bit of expenses and a 50/50 box-office-split. More details "soon".

Big Love,

K of E. x

29. Kings of England Accepted to Performing Lives Conference, Kingston University

Kings of England have been accepted to present at the Performing Lives Conference, Kingston University, 6 - 8 July 2008.

Go here for more info.

The proposal read:

(In response to the question: “WHOSE LIFE?”):

Since April 2008 I have been performing alongside my 74-year-old father under the name “Kings of England”. Our show, “Where We Live & What We Live For” has been scratched at five times and has confirmed for support by the BAC, the Nuffield Theatre and Leeds Met Studio Theatre in 2009.

I found a picture of my father (before he was my father) jumping from the rocks toward the sea. The picture, taken off the South coast of France in 1958, catches him partway down.

In 2001 he suffered a transient-ischemic attack, falling of a bicycle in the hillsnear home. My mother reports that for an hour, he did not remember his name, now where he was; nor where he lived.

I asked him about his fall, and about his landing, and he seemed to be unable to remember much at all except for “how clear the water was” and “all these little fishes”, he said: “talk about a clear blue sea”.

In response he has given me license to reclaim that lost hour, writing invention and supposition into the spaces created in the event of forgetting.

We may accord these inventions and suppositions certain ethical significance, drawing a Blanchotian treatment of the verb “to research” through Levinasian treatment of the unknowable-ness of the other: inventing fictions to replace lost facts, we aim to preserve the dignity of the unknown as unknown, as a point of convergence between us.

For ‘Performing Lives’ we propose to show 15 minutes of performance followed by 15 minutes Q & A.

28. Kings of England at MAP LIVE, Source Cafe, Carlisle

The following extracts were delivered as a short lecture at the Source Cafe as part of a night organized by the excellent Di Clay from Matrix Art Projects, combining Regional and National work with the ACE-funded LANWest tour. Also on the bill were: Leentje van de Cruys, Andy Wilson, Krissi Musiol, Katy and Peter Merrington, and Chris Fitzsimmons.


Good Evening and welcome to the first of tonight’s lectures, which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time.

We are looking for a way out, an escape, an evasion, it could be a door but more likely a window, mark the exits for your safety {point} and it seems that the event of performance is the place in which we are least likely to find it. We are gathered here on the condition that we will disperse. We will go home, sooner or later, more or less directly, for a night cap or a cup of tea, supper, take the dog for its late-night walk, get some sleep before work. To leave and arrive returned, to put distance between here and there, will somehow relate to us that ‘familiar story, the old, old story of…’ time told by the ticking of seconds, minutes and hours.

Article 1/-

You are sick, the doctors say no fluids, and I tell you that when you get out of there were going to going to get you drunk as a Lord. You like the sound of that and for a last time, you laugh. Three or four days later, you die. A toast, then, to the passing of time, and furthermore, to dead dogs, dead children, dead lovers, dead heroes and how good it is to be alive.

Article 2/-

24th January 1915 - 12th January 2008. Thirty-three thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight (33,568) days have gone by.

Articles 4 and 5/-

{first picture}

He is in the third of his ninety-three years. He is already a quiet boy, belying the modest and humble man he will become. He has a lifetime of hard work ahead of him, several disappointments. But for now there is time, as the shutter clicks and the powder flares and the shadow is cast, to be witnessed blameless and free, as the shadow lengthens on the curtain backdrop.

{last picture}

He is in the last of his ninety-three years. It is the last picture in which you can clearly see his face, or rather, his features, as they had been, consistent, to the form that had shaped them, belonging to his twenties and thirties as much as to his eighties and nineties.

He can’t hold much food down and has been troubled by a urine infection to which he will finally succumb. He is visited regularly by his two daughters, their husbands, but he has not seen his youngest grandson for months, and he has not seen his eldest for years. But he is, at least, outwardly, without complaint, and although his wife has died and his memories are receding, and his lodgings are more than can be afforded, he never breathes a word of these losses, not one. You see there are some men who are born complainers, these men have been bested and find no glory in hardship, and little reward. And there are some men, once capable men, who count themselves fortunate. These men have been bested and take pleasure in giving respect.

Article 6/-

Between the first and the last presented with a kind of incontrovertible evidence, if we accept that the first and the second are indeed two points of a continuum, two images of the same person, old man, little boy.

To think that time can be cut and mended, looped, ribboned, tangled and unpicked, is to beg a kind of freedom from the advancing of hours. But I look at your blood that collects in the bag, dirty black blood, and the greyish whites of your eyes and they tell me: don’t believe it. To love time and aging is to understand and accept consequence. The wish to stop time, or open it forever, reflects a desire for a life without consequences, in which mistakes can be rectified, words unsaid, deeds undone, deaths un-died. But then you turned to me and you asked me “is there another world” and the last thing I tell you is “Yes”.

Article 7/-

There are some things that we don’t talk about, because we no longer believe that we need to. Some things we are square with, or else they cannot be squared. And there are some things that we don’t ask about, but because we are young and have boundless love of questions and have not yet been told not to, we ask:

When I asked him, he looked at me and answered.

I wanted him to point and show me and say: “I killed these men”, but they were buried somewhere, far off, where the rivers and forests and villages had names I couldn’t pronounce.

The simple “Yes” satisfied me, even then, and it satisfies me now. He killed those men, got captured, starved for three years. Amongst hundreds of thin men they called him “the thin man” and because he could fix the trucks, the guards thought he was useful and so he survived it, and having secured for himself a reasonable chance of a future for himself, he returned to his wife, raised two daughters, who each had a son and from then he lived as if it were peacetime, kindly, and very decently. And that’s it, and that’s all.

Except for this:

Article 8/-

{Picture of the cover of A Brief History of Time}

In the end, someone else wrote the book and I like to think that the old man, had he of read it, would have enjoyed the nuances, the subtleties, and found the treatment worthy.

Last week I was in London on a residency and I wanted to put the book into flight, so I made a paper aeroplane out of each page, but when I threw them they flew less impressively, the paper was too heavy, the design was all flawed and they nosedived. So the book could not be read in the way it was intended, a series of short durations; ways of coming to land.

I put the aeroplanes in the shredder, a bed for mice, or a kind of snow. And I would like to invite you to file out of the building and congregate in the street, so I can, finally, throw the book out of the window.

27. Kings of England at BAC New Year New Spaces

Between 26th and 31st Jan we were on a residency at BAC as part of New Year, New Spaces, along with LOTS of other artists including the splendid Levantes Dance Theatre, Dancing Brick, and These Horses.

Between Monday and Wednesday I worked with an old friend and collaborator, Kate Rowles, whose work with her own family in the context of visual performance (primarily photo, video and AV installation) inspired K of E's initial scratch at BAC last September. We tried out some movement and writing exercises and by the end of the Wednesday we had the beginnings of something which, hopefully, will turn into a scratch piece in the future.

You can explore Kate's excellent work here.

Mum & Dad turned up on Thursday afternoon giving us a day and a half to pull the show together, which we did. Essentially it was a 10-minute performance lecture with Dad reciting poetry, singing a song, and dancing with Mum.

To offer an idea of the central concerns in the BAC show, we should note that Dad had been married before he married my Mum. I wanted to talk about how it was possible for him to recover from the disappointment of losing one woman by finding another. He didn't want to talk about it, or at least, not in any detailed terms. So in response we had to think of a way of Dad played out the notion of recovery or reorientation in the most general terms. It resulted in the following text, which I think is about Dad but which Mum thinks is about me:

Article 4. "The Wilderness. 1970"/-

He had been out in the wilderness for some time – too long – and dark was the night, cold was the ground, walking until morning and sleeping by day in the dark holler. On leaving civilization, he had imagined some sort of dominion over the animals of the forest. He had foreseen a land of plenty, or, at least, just enough. But by the end of January he conceded that he had been starving for weeks, or had been starving himself. Whilst once a civilised man, he now lacked every refinement he had prided himself on. He now longed for a good meal, a warm bed, and maybe a woman, if he could think of enough to say to trick one of them. His journal entries, growing infrequent, lapsed, and finally he began to tear out the pages to kindle his fires. When the journal was gone he begun with his hymn book, and at last his eyes rested on a familiar passage that his Father, a devout and abstemious man, had taught him many years before.

DAD sings "The Pilgrim Stranger".

That night he walked, as was his custom, but neglected his usual routes, which turned and turned about, listlessly, and instead he tended towards more or less straight lines that befitted a man with newly found sense of purpose.

By morning he is standing at the edge, and in the distance he sees, farmed lands, ordered hedgerows and dry stonewalls, and, squinting, he could see the smoke from chimneys, little houses dotted on the horizon.

He took out his old binoculars and surveyed the land, which looked splendid accordingly and he said to himself:

DAD: “Well, now, there I might live”…

And there he did live, for an hour, a summer and a winter life; saw how he could let the years run off, wait the winters through and see the spring come in again.

NB. "The Pilgrim Stranger" is also called "There is a Land of Pleasure" and I found it on a website called "American Memory" run by the Smithsonian. You can listen to Warde Ford singing it here.

The last line of the text is Adapted from Thoreau, Walden, Ch2: "Where I lived and What I Lived For". I'll put a proper reference in soon.

Photos of the Show:

"Style is the answer to everything..."
Dad comes out of The Wilderness singing an old hymn "The Pilgrim Stranger"
Dad dances with Mum to "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free" arranged by John Fahey & His Orchestra.
Response to Applause.

Photographs Kate Rowles.

Setting Up:

1&2 Mum & Dad re-lay the tape that made up our set.
2-5: A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, each page made into a paper Aeroplanes and put into flight by my father in the Council Chamber, by the Ayes Door 30th January 2009.

NB. The Aeroplanes flew poorly. They were too heavy and nosedived. We were going to start the show with the aeroplanes but didn't. But I did something else with them at Carlisle (see post 28).