Dramaturgy in Dialogue: Alice Gale-Feeny and Katherine Fishman

Transcript of a conversation that took place with Alice Gale-Feeny and Katherine Fishman about their exhibition ‘Beyond the Suspension of Disbelief’. This transcript was used as a ‘script’ at the exhibition launch at Surface Gallery, Nottingham in March 2012.

* No intro (A, K and M walk to mics and sit on floor before audience realise performance is starting.)

M: I think when I walked in, I saw the various…. sets – you put in place.

A: Plains.

M: yeah the plains. It’s a bit like in the theatre, where you drop things from the wings, everything’s on a – sorry from the fly tower; it comes down from a fly tower, and everything’s on a slightly different plain. Scenery comes in a narrative order.

K: Hmm

M: We see it from this corner.

K: yeah. Kind of like, through the other pieces?

M: In a way you’re at a vantage point to be able to see it all – kind of demystifying it all for us.

K: mm

M: It feels more honest than the rest of the other work.

K: But then I like the fact that maybe it has some kind of fake honesty to cover up for the fact that maybe it’s not a real kind of honesty?

M: A fake honesty?

K: Or maybe it’s showing something that looks like a kind of honesty even though it’s quite abstract so it doesn’t feel like a real honesty. So that people don’t question its honesty?

M: It’s an abstract honesty. I think that’s a nice way of saying it. I don’t consider it a fake honesty. I mean it could be.

A: No I don’t.

M: There’s something about your manner that seems more genuine than any of this. Like here, we see a rehearsal of a performance and then we see the performance. And even the lady in the corner, who’s supposed to be more of a- I guess- non-performative presence, becomes performative. So you do your hand gesture, or the volume changes –

– And you become a performer then. It feels more like a competition between the action and the description.

K: Yeah

M: I just wonder how we frame this. And actually it’s more interesting potentially if we sit like this on the floor and talk –

A: That’s what I –

M: Than if we sit on chairs and have microphones. Because if we do that, we perform it.

A: Whereas this is actually just chatting about what we’re…

M: But then this, with people standing around us might feel a bit weird. But it’s actually a slightly more… honest re-enactment. I guess it’s – what are you looking for? Honesty, or whether you’re more interested in mediations of the original text

A: Re-reading

M: Re-reading.

M: And in a way this is the section we should probably be reading.

K&A:            Yeah

A: Because part of me is wary of using mics. I really want us to be heard. But if it’s- if it’s a clear “this is a performance starting”, everyone will stop talking, won’t they?

K: I don’t know if they would, if we were all sat around like this.

M: I actually think if we sat around like this and talked, and we weren’t worried about people listening to us or not, we have perhaps more of a chance of being sincere to the original.  Whereas – cos’ actually, if I start to speak like I want to be heard I’m automatically not using the right kind of voice for this sort of conversation.

A: Yeah.

M: And I would annunciate clearly, and use all of my theatrical training to make sure everyone could hear me

A: Yeah

M: But that isn’t how we’re talking

A: No.

M: So it needs to be more organic and reflective

K: But then I’m also interested in our different styles of performing.

A: I think it might be a mistake to – to force… the way I perform on the text, or the way Michael performs. Because in a way, you don’t perform – we don’t perform in any particular way, but it depends on the context, doesn’t it?

M: But we do read it –

K: Or it will happen anyway –

A: It will

K: Without us trying

A: If I re-read something now I will talk it differently to this. It won’t be performed.

M: But I – what I would tend to do if I have something written in front of me, is read it without any real… colour. As in emotional adding-on of an effect. It would just be: I will read these words and let them speak for themselves.

K: Mm.

M: And actually I’ll probably make it flatter than I have in saying it now.

K: Yeah                                    A: Mm

M: So actually I’d be conscious of reducing it into something else, rather than expanding it –

K: Mm

M: If that makes sense.

K: Ok

M: And in that sense, that’s closer to a deadpan reading than what you might have, if that’s what you think you might do.

K: Mm

M: So I think that we might find that we all shared a similar kind of voice in this context, rather than finding differences between our voices.

K: Ok

M: I would be a bit more restrained

A: I think we all would as well. Cos I think the way I talk in this- I don’t think I would naturally talk like that. If I was saying those words.

M: Until you do the gesture; the louder bit. Your real… slightly more… restrained voice is in the foreground. And the background is a much more… actor-

A: Yeah

M: Persona… voice, isn’t it?

A: Yeah

M: But I don’t necessarily know if the focus of this performance would be the registers of our voices… But then in might be. But it would be more of a footnote than the focus.

A: Or it would- just be a thing that just happens

M: Or just a thing that happens

K: Yeah. I’m sure it will occur naturally

A: I think it will. I think we’ll notice it.

M: I suppose you have to ask why we speak it, rather than playing the recording of it. But I like- it’s the same device you used in the video you showed me last time, isn’t it? It makes sense, in a way. Having… a proximity to an original, which can never be the same as the original.

K: Yeah

A: Or how does it change from the original?

K: Mm

A: Because we’ve actually talked a lot about – our strategies… behind it. So we might have to be careful about not unpicking everything

K: Yeah. I mean, I’m sure we’ve got plenty of material to work with

M: The other question is just how ambient noise might affect it.  Whether the people you have will be quiet.

K: That’s why I kind of like the idea of being amplified because –

M: Yeah

K: Because we wouldn’t have to change the way we spoke too much to make us louder. Like if we were speaking to be heard then we’d have to be projecting a lot more

A: “Well, I think this

M: Well you could- if you had- if you had the setup in the video with the microphone on the stand surrounded by chairs, and we each step up to the mic and do our bit then that’s one vision of that. If there were three of us on chairs then that’s more of a panel.

But I think that anything with mics- mics and chairs seems to make it more formal. Whereas as we’re having it now- and if we replicate how we’re having it now, there’s something more of a found movement vocabulary- a found informality to that… seems… kind of… There are different registers within the work.

There’s something informal about you leaning against the wall, and something formal about the form of Alice’s presentation. And the thing with this piece is how it sits within that sort of range of registers.

A: I think that’s important because in a way, if we’re sitting on the floor, it feels quite a different scenario to any of these videos

K: Yeah.                        M: Mm

A: I wouldn’t watch any of these videos sitting on the floor.

M: I’m speaking from the experience of reading out at things like at talks, and never really being announced, not that I want to be announced, but… If you perform on stage, and the audience sit down and the lights go out, and the spotlight goes up, and everyone knows it’s begun

K&A: Mm

M: And everyone knows you’re performing something. When you do something in a gallery and you start reading something, no one knows a) who you are, or b) what you’re doing and c) what they’re supposed to do and there’s lots of questions. And I think whatever you do for this just perhaps needs to address some of those.


* How do we end it? Walk off?


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