Friday, 26 April 2013

The 11AM Premiere Tour

Today the Tour of All Tours was officially launched with the first performance taking place at 11AM and a second at 4PM. I'm more accustomed to an evening schedule for first performance, but this being a city tour, I was working on a tourist's timetable. That's not to say I have never done morning performances before, I have, but it is remains a rarity.

Making this sort of performance, there is no delineated backstage and frontstage. From the moment I arrived at the tourist information I was in the zone. However, the 'zone' was not the same as that in a more formal performance. The situation here is an entirely different one. During the time spent waiting for everyone to arrive, I borrowed a trick from a tour guide I saw in Oxford: chat to people in a collective sort of way (as opposed to a private conversation) and ask them where they are from. This might sound like a dumb thing but it had some genuine use. I got a better sense of who the people taking the tour were and what their level of English was (it happened to be quite good) and it created a sense of us being a group and not just a collection of individuals who have happened to have chosen the same tour. Once we were all there we set off and the tour got moving.

I am not in the habit of declaring performances of mine a success, that sort of thing is other people's business. I'm much more interested in what happens, what thoughts it provokes and how to act upon them. From that point of view, then, I see that the tour works in different ways for people who are visitors and for people who know the city. For the visitor it actually does fulfil a touristic role of informing them about the guided tours on offer, albeit in a novel way, and for the local it introduces them to a side of the city they usually bypass. This is a good basis upon which to build. However, what it does not yet do is propose a highly fractured experience, it tends to remain within the conventional guided tour format. I'm happy enough with this as a starting point, but I will be curious to see how it can start to stretch this form and still fulfil its two basic functions, as outlined above.

Once we were done with the tour we went to a nearby cafe and had a good discussion about the tour and I should thank Thomas, Eric, Andrea and Kaspar for their generous feedback. Also a big thank you is in order for Art Tours more generally as they have been the first people to support this project and have made very useful practical and artistic contributions along the way.  

With the premiere out of the way, I found this nice fountain in the city centre filled with washing up liquid and foaming over. This is a very popular game in the shopping centre in Portsmouth where I grew up, and while some people hate it, I have to say I have always understood the attraction and have wanted to do it myself, but never quite gotten round to it.

The afternoon saw Andreas giving the tour and doing the pointing instead of me.

From the point of view of a performer, it is really helpful to be able to see someone else giving the performance when you yourself have also made it. It takes it out of your own head and into something much more concrete. I can look at how Andreas gives the tour and see many things that I can learn from. I also notice that he gives the tour in a somewhat different way than I do and I have to distinguish between what is the tour, and what is the tour guide. He does some things in his own way, and they work for him but would be foolish to copy. So there is this process taking place right now of the two tours, the English and the German, starting to find their own directions according to the different languages, cultures and  personalities of the guides.

Finally, here is the forecast for tomorrow. Terrible. Cold and wet. I will be curious who, if anyone, will come in such miserable conditions.

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