Exploring Festival Performance as a 'State of Encounter'
Dr Alice O'Grady
Higher Education Institute
School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds
Rebekka Kill, Leeds Metropolitan University
OK, so you’re at a music festival and it’s a good twenty minute walk to the next stage to see the next band. As you walk, you pass a group of men dressed as smurfs, a stag do, probably, then you see another group, part businessman, part horse, doing a series of choreographed moves, dancing with the crowd, is it performance? You take a picture on your phone for your Myspace, and text it to your big sister and your Dad - "chk ths out!" They’ve seen this kind of thing before.
"Relational performance" often happens adjacent to the main programming of bands and DJs and yet are integral to both the success of the festival and the way in which memories of the event are personalised and transmitted to others. These performances are often unannounced, informal and responsive to both the time and place in which they occur. They usually require public engagement to activate them and, as such, they provide an insight into audience/performer relations as well as notions of site-specificity and playful behaviour. We are interested in how new forms of interactive, participatory and experimental performance are emerging within this context.
This network will discuss the types of relational performance that occur at festivals. We want to explore improvisation and space; the playful arena; the transmission of memory and archiving; storytelling and the role of electronic media such as mobile phones, and the internet in creating the "field of festival culture" (excuse the pun) and festival memories.
We will hold four seminars over two years with a small invited group of academics, practitioners and industry specialists. The seminars will take place in Leeds with a view to establishing a national research hub based in the Yorkshire region.
See also Rebekkah Kill's article in the Times Higher Education Supplement